Sunday, October 7, 2012

Creative Wallpaper - How to Hang Nautical Charts

I wanted something different for the powder room bathroom.  It's a small space and I wanted to make it really special.  The marble floor and fixtures are great - but it needs something to punch it up.  Keeping with our coastal theme, I decided to install nautical charts for a feature wall.

I scoured yard sales for weeks and finally found a whole set of charts for the wall.  They've got some history to them - I love the fact that they have creases and notations in the corners.  Very authentic.  Very Maine!

So, how do you install paper charts as wallpaper?

Step 1 - figure out the layout for the charts (or maps....or posters....or any paper item!).  Since this isn't regular wallpaper, you need to decide what chart you want where and how the overlap will work.  This means you need to decide which charts go in first and how you'll add successive layers.

Step 2 -  cut approximately to size.  It's a little tricky to hang these charts, so you want to cut away any excess before you start.  It will make the whole process much easier!

Step 3 -  apply wallpaper paste to the back.  I used a general purpose paste, that was ready mixed.  Be sure and apply to all edges.

Step 4 - 'Book' the paper.  This means you fold it on itself, so that the sticky sides are together.  This lets the paste soak in and get the paper to a consistent moisture level.  I let it 'book' for approximately 3 minutes.  If you wait much longer, the charts are more likely to tear as you start to install them.

Step 5 - place the chart on the wall, making sure you have it straight first.  Then gently brush it to the edges, pushing any bubbles out.  Finally, and this is the really tricky part, you need to cut the edges.  Since this isn't vinyl wallpaper, it will want to tear on you.  Take a joint knife and push it against the wall, where you want to make the cut.  Then take a very sharp blade and cut along the edge of the joint knife.  I don't like those plastic blades with the tips that break off - I find an old fashioned utility knife with lots of fresh blades works the best.  It might help to let the paper dry a bit, if you find it is tearing.

Step 6 - Gently wipe any paste off the surface of the paper.  Move onto the next piece and continue until you do your final, top layer, chart.

Step 7 - If you want to protect the surface, coat it with a clear coating.  However, make sure you really like it first, because once that's done, you won't be able to strip it back off.

What do you think?  Does it make the powder room more interesting?

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  1. You continue to amaze me. What creativity!

  2. Love it!! Good job. I've seen this done with topographic maps as well...

  3. This is a really good idea! Instead of buying wallscapes we can use old maps.

  4. Your instructions worked perfectly until I got to the coating step (my bathroom has a shower so I didn't want the paper to develop mold). I used a water based polyurethane coating that my paint store suggested for this particular type of job. My perfect, bubbleless papering immediately developed bubbles. Any idea for how to fix this? My recommendation for next time: if you want to coat the paper - do it before you apply it to the wall.

    1. Oh Betsy, I think they gave you very bad advice!!! You never want to use a water based product on paper, after it's adhered to the wall. It makes the paper expand and you get bubbles. I'm so, so sorry. The only thing I wonder is if the bubbles will recede as it dries.

  5. Thanks so much for posting this. We bought a house in South Portland last January and promptly had a pipe freeze, which eventually lead to a half-gutting of our downstairs bathroom, which had featured wall to wall (and ceiling) charts, mostly from the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

    I finally managed to get enough old charts for the job (although they're all coast of Maine - beggars can't be choosers), and am relieved to find that this project doesn't look too difficult. Thanks again for the help.

    1. So sorry to hear about all the water damage!!! But it's not hard to hang the charts and the results look amazing. Plus, it's nice to have Maine charts when you live in Maine! Have fun with your project!


  6. What do you use to seal the charts in a bathroom?


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