Why Are There Bubbles in Wallpaper I installed?

Why can I see bubbles in the wallpaper I have just had installed?

If you have had wallpaper installed there is a chance that you will see bubbles under the wallpaper. These happen for several reasons. I tried to take some pictures but was unable to take any that showed up as well as I would have liked to illustrate better what this blog post is about. I’ll work on it.

wallpaper installation - bubbles in wallpaper

Bubbles happen for one or more reasons:

  1. The air was not removed between the wallpaper and the wall
  2. There was too much adhesive on the wall
  3. The wall surface itself
  4. The type of wallpaper and or the type of adhesive used

When installing wallpaper, if you have seen it done before, as the wallpaper is placed on the wall it has a loose bond similar to using a post-it note. It sticks but not as long as you like. The wallpaper is placed loosely on the wall. It is lined up to the previous piece for a good seam or against a straight. Then from the top down a brush or smoothing tool is used to squeeze the air and excess glue from under the wallpaper and make the adhesive and the wallpaper stick to the wall. If done too fast a spot may be missed and an air bubble shows.

Too much adhesive can also cause bubbles in wallpaper. The adhesive has to either be absorbed into the wall or into the wallpaper. After the adhesive dries, the solid binders of the adhesive (or glue) will become a blob that looks like an air bubble.

Walls themselves can be a reason for air bubbles. Plaster walls are very dense and hard and make the moisture from the wallpaper adhesive to penetrate and air to dispense into a wall. Drywall is very porous and allows for the moisture to be absorbed into the wall. When we are applying wallpaper to a plaster wall, one thing we must do is sand the wall to scuff the surface to create someplace for moisture to go. Another problem with walls is what is on the wall already.

  • Oil-based paint makes air bubbles in wallpaper happen because the wall cannot accept any moisture.
  • If there is a layer of wallpaper that has been covered with paint, air bubbles may happen as well
  • Previous repairs to the wall. If a hole was not properly repaired, there will be problems with wallpaper showing bubbles.

The type of wallpaper can be an issue for air. Some wallcoverings can be very tightly weaved, made from plastics that do not allow the wallpaper to breathe as other materials. When this happens the air that is being released from the wet adhesive has not where to go, so this “gas” creates a bubble. This is often referred to as gassing.

The remedy?

Some air or adhesive bubbles in wallpaper can be removed by using a squeegee and forcing it out at a seam, from the top or from the bottom of the wall. Sometimes air bubbles may need a little adhesive injected into the problem area to get the wallpaper to stick. Often time this is the remedy. The wall, the glue, and the wallpaper must all relax, absorb and allow time to dry. Once dry, the bubble goes away.

If you have no idea on how to install wallpaper, to begin with, give us a call! We’re here to help.


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