The seam roller, also known as wallpaper seam roller, is a small but mighty and important wallpapering tool and should not be missing from your accessory kit. It helps to achieve a clean transition between the individual strips of wallpaper.
However, not all seam rollers are alike and you can choose from many standard designs. Which one you need to opt for also depends on the surface of the wallpaper. There are some usage tips and tricks that you need to know about so that you end up with invisible seam transitions and with no damage to sensitive or structured wallpaper surfaces.
How does the seam roller work when papering walls?
When you put up two strips of wallpaper, your normally do this edge on edge or, in other words, seam on seam. The seam roller comes in handy to make sure the edges are flat on the wall and you can't see any seams once the wallpaper is completely dry. The roller gently presses on the edges of the wallpaper. This also enables you to detect and rectify any slight displacements. The aim is not to end up with any joints or unsightly gaps and to prevent any visible overlaps. Seam rollers for wallpapers can also help with smoothing out any excess air close to the edges as long as the wallpaper paste is not yet fully dry.
If the edges of the wallpaper/seams do not stay down, it could be because these spots are dry. Here we recommend that you re-apply a small amount of wallpaper paste to the inner edges with a thin paintbrush and gently place the edges flat on the wall, smoothing them out with a clean cloth. Then repeat the process with the seam roller. Use the cloth to catch any paste spillage.
The seam roller and its components
A seam roller consists of a roll that is attached to a handle with an L-shaped, galvanized metal or steel wire frame. With these models, the roll can be easily replaced due to their sturdy snap-on mechanism. The length of the wire frame may differ, depending on the design. Other models have a movable frame with the roll screwed onto two sideways arms.
The actual handle, which is short, can be made of hard plastic, synthetic materials or wood. The choice of handle material is a matter of personal preference. However, there are also practical and functional advantages associated with particular handle materials. Wooden handles are comfortable to use, resistant and last longer than plastic ones, especially if used frequently. Since the wood surface is sealed, a wooden handle can be cleaned just as easily as a plastic handle, which may come in lots of different colours. Some people say that wood feels nicer and offers better resistance to pressure during rolling. The plastic handle is lighter than its wooden counterpart and therefore does not feel as heavy in the hand. However, a common feature of both handle designs is that their ergonomic shape and construction make them very easy to use.
Rolls are available in hard rubber, PUR rubber, sponge rubber, foamed material or hard plastic to cater for different wallpaper surfaces. With the "hard" materials (such as hard rubber, PUR rubber or hard plastic), the roll can be smooth, corrugated or grooved. They are traditionally offered in black, red, yellow, white and beige, while the soft foam rollers usually come in white or pastel colours. Rolls are normally 35, 40, 45 or 50 mm wide.
The roll of the seam roller may be conical, barrel-shaped or cylindrical. Both the barrel and conical shapes are variations of the cylindrical shape and result in small application differences for the seam roller. While the barrel-shaped roll expands evenly to both sides, the conical role significantly increases its radius to one side only.
A conical roll helps to prevent wallpaper paste from being pushed from the inside to the edge of the seam and beyond while pressing on the seam. The conical seam roller is also perfectly suited to smoothing out any protruding wallpaper seams.
Smooth rolls or rolls made of soft foamed materials or sponge rubber are the first choice for sensitive textured and embossed wallpapers. Particularly with regard to embossed wallpapers, however, the following rule applies: Less pressure is more, which is why you should always apply the roller gently.
Seam rollers are inexpensive and are available from any DIY store, wallpaper specialist as well as online.
Cleaning the seam roller before and after wallpapering
While wallpapering, the roll might come into contact with the wallpaper paste as it spills out at the edges. This should not be a problem with hard rubber and hard plastic rolls, because you can simply wipe off any traces of paste with a moist cloth. However, make sure you then wipe it with a dry cloth before using the seam roller on wallpaper again. To save time, foam rolls should be replaced. It is therefore a good idea to always have replacements at hand.
Above anything else, be careful because a roll with paste on it will have a negative effect on the wallpaper surface and prevent it from working properly. Better to clean the roll a few times rather than becoming annoyed at your own carelessness when it is too late. It is best to keep a lint-free cloth or plastic base ready for when you want to put down the seam roller so that the roll does not get unnecessarily dirty in the wallpapering process.
Only clean and dry tools will last long and be effective. This is why you need to thoroughly clean the seam roller of any residue of paste and dirt after you have finished your work. This applies to all its components (such as roll, frame and handle). It is best to dispose of foam or sponged rubber rolls as they can be replaced at low cost. Dry all components and store the seam roller in a dry place. The plastic handles of many seam rollers also have a hole in the handle, allowing you to hang up the tool to save space.
Use fully intact seam rollers
Only a sturdy and intact seam roller fulfils its purpose. If the frame is loose or moves from side to side, this makes just as little sense as if the roll can only be moved with a lot of effort and thus has a detrimental effect on the wallpaper. Damaged handles or handles with a tear offer no resistance, give way under pressure and put your hand at risk of injury. Before doing that to yourself, it is better to invest in a new seam roller or replace the defective components, if possible.