TP Home | About | Newsletter | Blogs |

Making good around new chased-in light switch

There should be an image attached here, apologies if it doesn’t come up.

A customer has asked me if it’s possible to make good around their new light switch and chasing, backfilled with bonding and smeared around their textured painted wallpaper. Old house, various textures of wallpaper, some of which they would rather not have to strip and reline just to accommodate a few new light switches and power sockets. Understandable, and they’re not expecting it to be perfect.

Now, I’ve never done this before, but I don’t see why it can’t be done. My question is, am I overreaching? Don’t really want to have to go back after bodging it and ask for money to strip and reline the whole room though…

My view is, with enough work and attention to detail, pretty much most things can be achieved.

I’m thinking clean the bonding off the wallpaper with a fine tool, scrape down areas of unevenness. Hmm, in fact I’ll have to take a couple of mm off all the bonding, like a dentist preparing for a crown, then skim with easifill to provide a smooth surface, sand that back so the paper sits level, then seal the filler (Beeline?).

But then I’ll need to splice in a patch, but it’s probably best to do this dry, because the old paper underneath will cut more easily that way. I might risk not getting it perfect because the splice will expand when wet, but then it should also contract when dry, and paint plus perhaps some judicious use of caulk should fill any gaps.

I’m making this up as I go along, and I hope it doesn’t horrify anyone, but someone must have done this before!

Grateful for any pointers offered to this relatively inexperienced decorator.

Okay that’s only one of the pictures I attached, but you get the idea.

Hi, you have a fun job there. Not. The correct approach is to get the job done right, which means the plastering should have been done level with the existing plaster, not level with the wall covering and you should be reinstating each papered wall that has been damaged.

As I say, this splice and fudging the plastering, is not the pro approach at all, a bodge for want of a better word but it raises a few principles you might be able to apply

I would advise you do ONE splice, ask for the client’s opinion and then commit to a course of action / price based on their reaction. I can give you a few tips on what not to do!

What you don’t want to do is rely on caulk to get you out of trouble with your splices because a) caulk is a different texture (shiny & smooth) and b) if you overcoat with straight vinyl matt you may see the caulk craze and reveal the outline of the mend in all its glory.

I think to get the levels right, don’t sand the plaster away, ie you would be better off scoring the paper around the edges, and cutting through to the plaster. Score the rest of the plaster that you want to level out and scrape it back carefully with a chisel edge. Then carefully sand smooth.

If you have lifting edges, people tend to squidge paste under the lifting edge, wait a bit then press the lifted paper back down. This is pretty much doomed to fail. The trick is to thoroughly dampen the lifting paper and when it is wetted nicely then apply the paste and all should be well.

So in this case, I would also tend to dampen an inch or so of the existing paper in readiness for the splice.

Cut out a piece to fit around the socket and overlap an inch or so onto the existing (damp) wallpaper. Paste it, let it soak.

Get your finest Olfa blade and straight edge and make those splices top and bottom ie the cuts with the grain so to speak. To avoid scagging, keep your blade angled close to the surface not 90 degrees.

The two vertical cuts, don’t do them straight, they will definitely show. Get a bit creative, what doesnt your eye expect to see? Curved cuts

The existing paper that you dampened and spliced - slip a blade carefully under the edge and lift back a tiny amount and squidge a bit of paste underneath. Flatten it back down and with a moist sponge try to coax the 2 papers to create the tightest joint you can.

When it is dry, paint it once see what the result is. Any jiggery pokery that involves filling, use a powder filler. I will now retire to bodgit and leggit land

Andy that is very helpful, thank you. I’m just trying to digest and picture everything you’ve described and may come back with a query if that’s okay.

Right, two things have just clicked: it’s not helping having the picture on sideways, so I think what you mean when you say “top and bottom splices” would be left and right of the socket, as it makes sense to hide a straight cut within a row of straight lines. And so when you say make the vertical cuts curved (I was thinking wavy, but I’ve just realised you mean arced…) you mean above and below the socket.

I’ve also realised you meant precut a socket-sized hole in the paper before pasting (never done that before), which would certainly help.

I might just pull this off…

How did it all work out David, any pics?

Regards Russ

Hi Russ. I started today, in fact. Luckily, they decided to go for a reline below their picture rail, solving that problem. The customer has “done” his own stripping, so first job is to go back over it all getting the bits he’s missed, firstly with sprayed water, then I’m trying Krudkutter Gloss-off to remove last bits of paste.

Reading through this forum, I’ve also bought loads of Beeline PS to apply before lining. What I’m wondering, however, is whether I can apply a mist coat to highlight the areas that need filling. I know I can’t really, as that will defeat the purpose of the PS slightly, but is there any way round this I wonder?

Will post some pics when I have more time.

The old finger tips work quite well for finding imperfections, as does lighting on an angle. If there is minor filling, I draw a grid in pencil and go through each section prepping and filling and sanding and double check. If it requires more than a spot fill, I dont bother mucking around and just skim fill and sand with the CEROS. Quick and more thorough.

Bear in mind that stout lining paper will reduce the amount of total nit picky filling required compared to a surface for straight painting over.

Dont you mean Krudkutter Original for removing paste? Gloss off removes gloss sheen.

It’s all a bit like this (see photo). You could go mad with it, but like you say a lot of it will be covered by the lining paper.

I just bought a Colson LED worklight, should help finding dips and dings.

I also bought a Mirka starter kit, which I fell in love with on my last job. So nice to work without cleaning up so much! Looking forward to using it on this one. Great steer from TP.

It’s Gloss-off. Site didn’t have Original in stock, but guy emailed me to say GO is pretty similar stuff, has many uses, and in fact is stronger than Krudkutter Original. Walls are now pretty tack-free.

Annoyingly, I ordered Halls PS from Decorator Depot on Sunday, but it’s yet to arrive. Thinking I’ll have to use 123 instead if it doesn’t show tomorrow.

Thanks for your post Andy.

That photo of course is how the customer has stripped it, not me!

Andy, when you skim fill what tool do you use?

I use a nice wide plastering trowel.

I favour a caulker for decorating fillers. No rules though for format of spreading implement, it is the end result that counts.

(On reflection, I guess there is a slight rule, in that plastic blades tend to leave a less dense surface than a metal blade. Metal trowels can obviously be used to polish surfaces to the point that emulsion will never adhere to it!