Q: My husband painted the door and some of the baseboard and heater in our front hall. One wall has wallpaper from the 1970s that I like and don’t want to change. When he painted, he used blue painter’s tape, so he wouldn’t get paint on the wallpaper. But when he removed the tape, it took the wallpaper underneath with it. He has offered to “frame” the wallpaper scene, but it goes across a door, and I think that would look funnier than leaving it the way it is. What do we do now?

A: Instead of framing the wallpaper on all four sides, one option would be to add a thin strip of molding where you need to cover the damage. From the pictures you sent, it’s not clear whether that’s just across the bottom of the mural, or whether the damage extends around the door or part of the door.

If it’s just at the bottom, adding molding there would create the look of a slightly higher, fancier baseboard. Extend the added molding around the corner where the baseboard meets the door trim and on other walls in the hall where there’s baseboard.

You could use a style of molding called base cap or panel molding. The top edge has a right angle at the back, so it fits tightly to the wall, and the bottom edge has a lip at the back, so it fits over the main baseboard or a panel. A home center with a limited selection of molding styles might not have something that fits the thickness of your baseboard, but dedicated lumberyards often have wider selections. Or, if you or a friend have a home woodworking shop, you could get a custom shape or alter an off-the-shelf design with a router mounted in a router table.

If there’s also damage to the wallpaper around the door, you could still use the base-cap treatment where there’s baseboard on the end wall with the door. But around the door trim itself, molding that is thin and flat would probably look best.

If you add molding, prime and paint it before you install it. Nail it in place where nails will hit studs. Use a stud finder or tap along the wall to determine where the hollow sound changes to a thud. You can also inspect to see where the existing baseboards are nailed on, then nail directly above those.


For the tidiest job, pre-drill with a bit narrower than the finish nails you plan to use, then hammer in the nails and use a nail set to sink the heads about 1/8 inch below the surface. Fill the holes with wood filler and let dry. Touch up the paint with a small artist’s brush. If the paint isn’t self-priming, do the touch-up in two steps: primer, then topcoat.

It might also be possible to mask the damage with paint, especially because the damaged area seems to be a plain background color. However, matching the texture and sheen is probably a bigger challenge than finding the right color or combination of colors.

In most cases, when someone wants to paint over a wall where wallpaper was stripped but didn’t come off completely, the advice is to first skim-coat with a thin layer of drywall mud. But doing that on your wall would probably create a bigger mess. You might be better off lightly sanding the rough areas, taking care not to sand into areas that still have wallpaper. Using the edge of a sanding sponge might work best.

To select the paint color or colors, take a picture near the edge on your cellphone and check that the color on the screen matches what you see on the wall. Adjust the lighting and reshoot if necessary.

You might want to upload the picture into an online tool that allows you to select parts of the picture and generate color swatches. One example is printkick.com/tools/image-colour-match. The color swatches the program generates are identified by terms used in the printing industry, not paint stores. But having the swatches on your phone when you shop for paint can help you select a good match.

If the mural has a mottled background color, as the pictures you sent hint it might, you’ll need a couple of colors to re-create the look. Get matte paint, so the paint doesn’t wind up too glossy.