Wallpaper is one of the most common, convenient and cost-effective ways of adding life to a room with colours and patterns. Along with cladding and panelling, wallpaper opens up a world of possibilities to professional and amateur interior designers alike.
The variety of wallpaper available gives seemingly endless options for adding colour and character to a room, but in most cases sticking to well-established conventions can serve you best when making up your mind. Custom wallpaper patterns are also available, both hand printed, which can be an expensive option, and digital printing, which is becoming increasingly affordable.
Different patterns, colours and textures are available, and if that doesn’t seem like enough choice, there are also a wide variety of different materials. Contrary to what its name may lead you to believe, most wallpapers are not made solely from paper and some do not contain paper at all.
Whatever your style you choose, the type of wallpaper can have a big effect on how easy or difficult it is to adhere to your walls. The most common kind of wallpaper for home use, and usually the most budget-friendly, is vinyl-coated paper. Cloth-backed vinyl wallpaper is also fairly common. Paper-back vinyl wallpaper is comparatively more expensive, and more difficult to hang, while hanging paper-backed foil wallpaper is even more demanding in terms of skills. More exotic and costly wallpaper options include ones made from textiles and silks, and even materials from the natural world like grasses and leaves.
When you have decided what your room should look like it is time to start thinking about buying. By taking a few simple precautions before you buy your wallpaper you can save time and money, and prevent stress, in the days and weeks to come.
It goes without saying that you should measure your room, to work out how much wallpaper you will need, which can also help when it comes to getting estimates from tradespeople. As a rule of thumb, standard rolls of wallpaper in the UK are 10.05m (11 yards) long and 52cm (20½”) wide, while wide rolls are 68.5cm (27”) wide, though it is essential to check the dimensions of any roll you intend to buy, as irregular sizes do exist. Making sure any wallpaper you buy is from the same batch, as colours and finished can sometimes vary from batch to batch, can also prevent disappointment further down the line.
The state of your walls underneath any existing wallpaper will determine the level of preparation needed before your covering of choice can be hung. Your tradesperson will be more than happy to strip any existing wallpaper and do any other preparation work required, and in all but the simplest circumstances this is highly recommended.
Depending on condition of your walls different levels of preparation may be needed. This may just mean removing any wallpaper already there, but can also require cracks in plaster and holes in the walls to be filled, and in the case of fresh plaster a course of sealant will need to be applied. On uneven walls it is often advisable to apply lining paper, which gives your wallpaper a smooth surface to stick to.
If you are unsure your chosen tradesperson will be able to advise you on what is required and cost it into any work you commission them to do.
Whether your decorator is booked in or you have elected to enter the brave new world of DIY it is vital to protect the rest of your room during wallpapering. Painted walls may need to be sanded until they are smooth, and in almost all cases the walls will need to be washed. Whether stripping wallpaper, preparing for it or hanging it, polythene dust sheets can protect your carpets and furniture from falling debris and wallpaper paste. If you have hired a tradesperson they will usually provide just sheets, but it is in your interests to check.