In addition to good surface preparation, many other factors can impact the success of overlay application. For installers just starting out with vertical resurfacing, here are some tips gleaned from wall overlay manufacturers and experienced pros for achieving the best performance and appearance. Before embarking on any vertical overlay project, it's a good idea to perform a mock-up using the same materials, tools and techniques to be applied on the job.

  • When mixing wall overlay materials, it's important to get the proper ratio of liquid and dry components. If the mixture is too dry, it will be weak and could crumble away. If too watery, it will sag or run down the surface. It's better to start out with a little less water than called for and then add small amounts until the desired consistency is achieved.
  • The overlay thickness will depend on the stamp profile depth or carving techniques used. If you are using a texture skin, you may only need 3/8 to 1/2 inch of material. For deep stamp patterns or carved joints, you may need to apply the overlay to a 2-inch depth or more.
  • For thicker overlays (1 inch or greater), you'll get better results by applying the material in two coats. However, in order to prevent separation, don't let the first coat dry before applying the second one.
  • Once you determine the appropriate depth, apply the material at a consistent thickness to ensure pattern uniformity. One way to gauge the depth and get an even thickness across the entire wall is to insert a ruler as you apply the material.
  • The timing of stamping or carving is important to achieve a good impression without tearing of the surface. Generally, when you are able make a clean imprint in the overlay with your finger without lifting the material, it's time to begin. If the mix sags when it's stamped or sticks to your carving tools, wait a bit longer.
  • Always apply a liquid release agent to your stamping tools to get a cleaner imprint and to prevent them from sticking to the freshly applied overlay.
  • To keep placement of the wall stamps level, use a fixed point or edge such as a level floor or top of a wall. A string line will also work.
  • After coloring the overlay with topical stains or dyes, finish by applying a sealer to protect your work and enhance the color, using a product compatible with the overlay mix and suitable for the exposure conditions. Because foot traffic isn't an issue with vertical surfaces, usually fewer coats of sealer are needed.

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