How do I keep my new wallpaper from shrinking and peeling? I will be applying peel-and-stick wallpaper over the existing wallpaper in my Itasca and don’t want it to shrink and peel. —Janet, 1995 Winnebago Itasca
Your 1995 Itasca made by Winnebago most likely had BP or Pluswood plywood wall panels with a wallpaper finish and seam cover strips we called “batt strips.” In 1995 the Itasca line had many models including the Suncruiser, Sunrise, Spirit, and others. Most had similar interior furnishings, just different colors. Here is a photo of the living room from a Suncruiser which was a Class A basement model.
Notice this floorplan had a slide room on the driver side of the vehicle. In 1995, Winnebago decided to go wide body with the Winnebago line, which was 8’ 5.5” wide and add the slide room to the Itasca line staying at 8’ wide. There was quite a bit of pushback from the Winnebago dealers, so in 1996 both lines had a slide room at 102.5” wide. The interior paneling was 5’ wide x 8’ tall, so not your typical panel sheets, that are 4’x8’. Here is the parts list for the ’95 Suncruiser wall panel according to the Winnebago site.
Not much actual wall space in an RV
One thing I have found when renovating the interior is there is not much actual wall space with all the cabinets and windows. The sidewall is assembled on large roller platforms starting with the one-piece fiberglass outer skin, luan paneling, routed block foam insulation and aluminum framework embedded into the routed paths so there is insulation between the framework and outer skins.
Next is the interior paneling with the wallpaper already adhered to the paneling. Then the sidewall is pinch rolled and set to let the adhesive between the layers cure. The panel then goes to the CNC router to get the window cutouts, doors, and all other openings. The windows are installed on the line from the outside with a putty-like sealant called butyl tape between the window frame and the outer sidewall, and the interior frame is installed with screws to sandwich it to the sidewall. This, along with the doors and other installed items, help keep the wall paper from creeping or wrinkling. However, I have found in extreme hot, moist climates it still happens.
Preparation and application are the key
The reason I bring this to your attention is you will not be able to use the framework to help secure the new wallpaper that you wish to install. So it is important to prepare the surface properly by cleaning it with a mild cleaner found in the paint section of your local home improvement store. Make sure the wall is dust-free and has no film on it such as smoke or cooking grease.
Research wallpaper types, as vinyl-based papers will shrink with moisture and temperature changes. Textile-based papers seem to hold up better in extreme conditions.
When applying, make sure you smooth out all the air bubbles underneath as you go. I would also suggest removing the batt strips between the seams of the panel, as trying to cover over these would be a sure formula for peeling. You may be able to cover the batt strip with the new paper and reinstall, which would help keep the new wallpaper down.
Wallpaper around windows and cabinets
You may also want to remove the interior frame of windows to be able to get the new wallpaper up to the opening and then reinstall the frame, which will help keep the edges from peeling. Normally you would not be able to do this with cabinetry. However, you can butt the wallpaper up to the edge of the cabinet and then cover it with a small trim piece that matches the cabinet wood color.
Measure twice, cut once, and go slow. Try to limit the number of times you need to pull the new paper back off to realign or get air bubbles out. Even though it is removable, every time it is pulled off there is less adhesion.
Once installed, regulate temperature and humidity
As stated earlier, the biggest issue with wallpaper in an RV is the lack of climate control when not being used. Letting it sit in blistering sun with high humidity, like we get in Northern Iowa, will have your paper sitting on the floor relatively quickly. However, a quality wallpaper can resist some temperature changes and humidity. If possible, install a portable dehumidifier or the H2Out product found here.
I have found more DIY renovators have had success with painting over the old wallpaper; however, that does limit the design and texture. The first coat should be Zinsser® Bullseye Primer/Paint, found at most home improvement stores or Amazon. For more info on painting the interior of an RV, check the post linked below.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
Can I paint the inside walls of my motorhome?
Can you paint the inside of a motorhome, even if it’s over wallpaper? Or can you put new wallpaper over old wallpaper? —Janet, 2007 R-Vision Town & Country
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
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