dimensional wallpaper tiles

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About PaperForms

A How-To guide for beautiful walls

We are here to make your next home or office improvement adventure easier so we decided to put together a short but comprehensive guide for installing PaperForms. We have included the nitty gritty on our tiles no matter your skill level; So read on and find out how our modular wallpaper can be a fun and easy solution to create high impact and low cost spaces. Now let’s get started!

What are PaperForms?

PaperForms are decorative molded paper tiles made out of recycled paper.  Our tiles are modular, three-dimensional (about 2.5 inches high) and light weight. The Tiles are available in six unique designs: V2, Ripple, Cube, Fractals, Chevron and Acoustic Weave and come in 12 tile packs. All tiles come in a standard white color. PaperForms are an innovative concept in surface coverings designed and patented by us in 2005!

Calculating Coverage and Surface Preparation

The best way to calculate how many tiles you will need, is to determine the height and length of the wall or surface you want to cover in square feet and use our box calculators . Each PaperForms box has 12 tiles and each tile is one square foot (12 inches x 12 inches).

PaperForms can be installed on flat surfaces that are clean, dry and free of loose debris. V2, Ripple and Acoustic Weave are suitable for slightly curved surfaces. If installing over glossy plaster or painted walls be sure to rough up the surface with sandpaper and wipe clean with a damp rag. This will create a better surface for the adhesive to bond to.

Planning your Installation

This is the best part! Decide how the installation will look. Create an accent wall, a floating design with a border around it or wallpaper wall-to-wall any room. A great way to see the installation before starting it is to lay the tiles out on the floor. Be sure to rotate the tiles to see how they pattern. If you plan to paint the tiles in your favorite colors or install them in a room that gets very hot or very cold (think non-climate controlled spaces and beautiful locations south of the Equator) it is best to install the tiles permanently with a tile mastic. Whenever possible we recommend using low and VOC-free options. Smaller installations can be temporarily installed with double-sided adhesives such as these. These smaller installations make great wall art or decoration in bedrooms, dining rooms, offices and waiting rooms.

Whether you are making wall art or transforming your den these simple tips will help you through the installation process. Be sure to use a level so your installation will look beautiful and straight! An eight inch discrepancy on one tile will start looking more like a one inch gap across 10 tiles! Use masking tape or mark your walls lightly with a pencil. You can always come back with an eraser to clean them. Carefully consider any obstacles that might come your way during installation such as outlets, uneven ceilings, floors and light switches. Our tips below describe how to cut tiles and work around through these details. On larger installations work your way across the wall moving towards corners and the ceiling. This will ensure any cut tiles end up in the least visible place. If you want a wall-to-wall installation you will need to cut the edge tiles as described later in this post. Now that we have a plan we can get to work!

Permanent Installation with Mastic

Before starting any installation be sure to read the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions for set and dry times as well as any warnings. Some adhesives require installation in a well ventilated space. If your walls are already nice and smooth you can use a 3/16” V-notched trowel for applying the mastic on. If your walls are uneven or textured a 5/16” V-notched trowel is a better option for applying the mastic on heavier. PaperForms are ideal for covering unsightly walls and finishes which are hard to remove. For smaller areas and seams you will also need a small putty knife. Check the tiles when they arrive and if a tile has a slight bow don’t fret! gently flex it until it lays flat before gluing it up. If any of the corners give you trouble, you can tack them down with a small finishing nail. Once the adhesive dries the holes can be covered with primer or lightweight spackle. In addition to trowelling the mastic on the wall, applying a thin coat to the back of the tiles on flat areas will make the tiles grab on easier. Be sure to butt tiles together nice and tight. This will minimize the visibility of any seams. An easy trick to make sure you get really clean seams is to slightly offset the tiles when gluing them up and then slide them into place. This will press excess mastic into the space between the tiles minimizing seams. The excess mastic can be removed by running a thin putty knife or finger along each joint, leveling the joints with the tiles edges. Excess adhesive can also be removed with a damp cloth but be very gentle!

Temporary Installation with Tape

Some of us have rental units or simply don’t want to commit to a final design… Like ever! For those urban nomads, we recommend a temporary installation. Adhesive selection is key and not all surfaces work with all tapes. We recommend double-sided adhesives such as mounting tape as a reliable place to start. The tiles are lightweight so some carpet tapes and removable adhesives will work too. In the end the strength of the adhesive should be dictated by how willing you are to clean up the wall when you have to remove the design. We strongly recommend testing the tape first on your type of surface first. Some tapes are not designed for textured or irregular surfaces, so that should be a consideration when selecting your tape. Another good option is to install the tiles to a sheet of thin plywood like this one, using permanent adhesives and then mounting the plywood to the wall with screws. The plywood can also be framed or mounted to give the tiles additional depth (See our example in the  image below.) This method will make your installation easily removable!

Cutting Tiles

As we mentioned earlier some installations will require cutting tiles. Most power tools will work just fine, but so will a sharp utility knife. Taping along the cut lines on the back of the tiles can be helpful to ensure a clean cut, especially when using power tools. In general it is best to have a test tile to practice your cutting. Another good idea for outlets, switches and other complex cuts is to replace a tile with a flat matte board of the same thickness as the tiles. This might save you some time and will create a very clean looking edging tile. For a seamless look though you can also use extension boxes for outlets to bring them out past the PaperForms. Once you install the extensions cut the tiles to fit the box opening and caulk the edges. When installing tiles around switches cut an opening on the tile 1/8 inch larger than the cover size. Apply a primer or coat of paint on the tile in preparation for the next step using joint compound. Mount the switches and before installing the cover plate fill the voids in the tiles where the cuts were made with joint compound. Be sure to apply it in layers and let it dry before reapplying. This could take several applications before building it out to fill the voids. Once the voids have been filled they can be sanded evenly. It is very important that a primer or first coat of paint be applied to the tiles. If joint compound is applied to the tiles without a primer coat, the moisture from the joint compound will wick back into the tiles causing them to swell at the edges and corners. Once the joint compound is dry you can paint and install the plate covers.

Finishing the Tiles

Our PaperForms tiles are fun and modular, great for temporary installations for events, trade shows, stage designs, backdrops and a dizzying array of professional and personal projects. On occasion we have customers who would like to create an installation without invisible seams. For them I have included this section on finishing! The simplest way to treat the seams is to use paintable caulk or a lightweight spackle on all joints before the final primer coat. If you decide to go with caulk make sure you clean it up as you go along since it cannot be sanded afterwards. Finishing the seams can be time consuming so if the seams don’t bother you skip this step altogether!

Painting

All PaperForms can be painted with most wall finishes including latex and oil based paints. We recommend testing your finish on a tile before doing an entire wall. Smaller installations can be painted with a brush and roller but but it is more efficient to use a paint sprayer (Airless or HPLV). We recommend using low or VOC-free finishes. For best results install the tiles first as described above and spray a thin coat of primer or paint on the tiles. Let the paint dry thoroughly before applying subsequent coats. If you decide to hire a professional or work with a contractor you should suggest using Sheetrock Brand Tuff Hide Primer-Surfacer from USG or Level Coat from Magnum Products instead of regular primer. Most professional painters will be familiar with these type of products and have the equipment necessary to apply it. This type of primer is heavy, self leveling and builds up creating a super smooth finish on the tiles and covering up any blemishes, seams and imperfections. Of course this is all optional! We love the texture and color of uncoated tiles too!

That pretty much covers it. (Pun intended!) If there is still something we did not answer with this post, feel free to reach out to us. No matter what your project may be, always keep in mind that the whole point of PaperForms (and design for that matter) is to be creative and make any space your very own.