Wall Doctor to the Rescue

Living in an older home comes with many things you can see as “charm” or “obstacles” depending on the situation at hand. You have less-than-stellar plumbing and electrical, uneven floors, creepy crawl spaces, dank and dark basements, inefficient windows, doors that don’t hang straight, mismatched millwork, etc. One of those situations in my home is our plaster walls.
As our home has aged and settled (and actually been moved from one location about a mile away to where it is now) over its 112 years of life, our walls have been worse for the wear. Cracks are apparent everywhere, and seem to be reproducing and spreading at an alarming rate. Dents become huge dusty messes to repair and camouflage. And in the case of two of our rooms, just began falling off in sheets due to fire and water damage and general rot. So while we’ve torn down and drywalled in its stead what was necessary, we’re not keen on creating that kind of mess any time soon again.
However, our foyer-stairwell-upstairs landing area leaves much to be aesthetically desired. Removing a broken banister and plastic wainscoting (that was GLUED to PLASTER WALLS for added angst) caused us to partially repair with drywall and partially … just cover it with paint. Unfortunately, the color isn’t what I had hoped for, and our first foray into drywalling isn’t pretty. (Mental note, if your spouse tries to convince you that spackle and wall mud are the same thing, STOP THEM. It’s not, and I have the unsightly wall to show for it.)

I’d like our front entry, stairs, and upstairs hall to be more inviting, more cohesive, and generally nicer to look at. And since tearing down the walls isn’t plausible and paint kind of failed (and I’m fundamentally against paneling) I think wallpaper would do the trick. However, how does one wallpaper uneven plaster walls?
One hope I have is Wall Doctor wallpaper, which is meant to be used on walls that are less than perfect. I’ve found it through Graham & Brown, but I’ve seen it sold through Home Depot and Lowe’s as well.
They tout that the paper “… covers imperfections and even paneling while adding depth and texture to create the perfect ‘canvas’ on which you add your personal choice of color.” Did you read that? It’s supposed to cover PANELING.
They even sell a heavy duty wall liner to put between the wall in question and the paper – all of which are paintable as well.
I’ve previously ordered a sample of their Victorian style to play with for possible ceiling installation, and yes, I did indeed paint it to see how it would look. I found the paper to be incredibly sturdy and thick, and once paint had been applied and dried, it looked pretty darn fabulous (I used two shades of metallic silver in different combinations to get that tin tile effect). I think applying the paper and then painting it would be the best bet, but I didn’t want to paste an 8 in by 11.5 in sheet to a wall for a trial.
So I have high hopes for the wall liner to help a sister out with some ancient walls – and if all goes well, some amazing wallpaper will be in the future for my little entry way.

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