Have your home's walls seen better days? Filling and sanding them goes a long way, but isn't always the whole solution, says Julia Gray
Wallpaper, especially textured paper, can hide a multitude of sins. While you may not be able to live with it any more, removing it is a risky business because once you do, the walls (and ceilings) may need replastering.
Not generally a job for DIYers (if you fancy having a go, B&Q does a Patch Plastering & Introduction to Skimming class - see www.diy.com/youcandoit), replastering will give you a good finish, although you'll need to fill and sand the walls once the plaster has dried (it usually goes pale pink when it has) to make them as perfect as possible.
Employing a plasterer needn't be expensive, but it is quite a messy job and even newly replastered walls can develop hairline cracks within weeks, which you'll need to fill, or cover with lining paper.
Lining paper come in various thicknesses, with the thickest designed for walls in the worst state of repair.
It's quite common to hang lining paper horizontally, especially paste-the-wall ones, which are the easiest to use. With these, you simply apply wallpaper paste to the wall with a brush or roller and then hang the paper. You don't have to wait for the paste to soak in to the paper and you don't have to grapple with soggy lengths of paper.
Lining paper can be used to make less-than-perfect walls look better if you don't want to have them replastered, but lumps and bumps will be noticeable if light falls across them - lamps are one of the worst offenders.
Got a wall that's spongy and moves slightly when you press it? The plaster is blown, meaning it's no longer adhered properly.
The blown area will ideally need to be replastered, although you may be able to just use lining paper to keep the plaster in place, as long as you don't put any weight on it, such as tiles or shelves.
If you don't mind the fact that your walls have seen better days, great. This look often suits period properties, especially cottages, and shabby-chic homes.
The best way to enhance uneven walls is to use a chalky or flat-matt emulsion. Paint with any kind of sheen, such as silk emulsion, will emphasise the flaws, so avoid at all costs.