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Q. I would like to wallpaper the underside of my curving staircase. Should I attempt this myself or hire someone?


A. You have to have a certain mindset to even consider doing this yourself, says Sheila Stanczak, owner of Papers & More (9135 S. Western Ave., 773-238-7460). “If you just want to do the job and get it over with, you’re not the right person,” she notes. “But if you can sew, and you like to sew, you can do it.” In other words, if you enjoy projects that involve patience and precision, go right ahead. If you don’t, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

Your decision also depends on the material you’re using. Edmund Gill, owner of Crestview Decorating (708-371-6413), warns, “You know you’re in for a battle if you’re using vinyl. It has a memory. You can push it into shape against the curve and it moves back the next day.” Sounds like a recipe for tears.

Are you using grasscloth? Self-employed installer Jim Briggs doesn’t recommend that do-it-yourselfers take this on. “Grasscloth bends horizontally but not vertically, so you can’t bend it around an outside corner,” he says. “You have to use a lot of paste and wet the paper so the reeds bend. Then you have to push and tug till the air bubbles get out.” Please, stop.

The great thing about experienced professionals is that they have seen it all. They tell tales about papering louvered doors and using materials such as wrinkled brown paper, French newspapers, maps, and menus as wallpaper. We know of one expert, Claudia Supran (708-217-0510), who has gone so far as to glue Swarovski crystals to a ceiling (her own) covered with textured wallpaper. If you decide to hand your job over to a pro, check our Paint & Wallcoverings listings in Design Sources for places to call for recommendations.

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