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A Beginners Guide to Wallpaper

Wallpaper is back and better than ever. The once ever-present wall covering fell deeply out of favor in the late 20th century thanks to a push toward sleek, simple, modern interiors. But this century’s love-affair with all things eclectic and vintage has spawned a resurgence in this type of wall covering.

Be forewarned: this isn’t your mama’s wallpaper. Thanks to technological advances, today’s options are easy to apply and come in an endless array of styles, patterns and colors.

Wallpaper Types

At one point in time there was only one option: paper wallpaper. It was hard to apply, easily torn and you couldn’t clean it, making it a huge turnoff to homeowners who wanted a wall covering that was less of a hassle. Regular paper wallpaper is officially out and these options are in:

Coated fabric wallpaper: Just like the name poses, this wallpaper is made from fabric and coated in vinyl. Many homeowners find it appealing because the pattern appears on the coating, allowing for a rich, textured appearance. Skip hanging it in the bathroom or kitchen, it isn’t very moisture resistant and you’re bound to end up with a mess.

A Beginners Guide to Wallpaper

 Contemporary Bathroom design by Dallas Interior Designer Beth Dotolo, RID, ASID

Vinyl coated wallpaper

This popular option has a paper base that’s coated in liquid polyvinyl chloride or acrylic vinyl. It’s a great choice for any room in the house as it’s easy to clean and has a high resistance to moisture.

A Beginners Guide to Wallpaper

Traditional Bathroom design by Other Metro Interior Designer Fiorito Interior Design

Solid vinyl wallpaper:

Homeowners with kids will rejoice over this wallpaper’s durable, solid vinyl coating. It can withstand a good scrub and resists moisture, grease and all kinds of stains.

A Beginners Guide to Wallpaper

Contemporary Bathroom design by Los Angeles Interior Designer Dayna Katlin Interiors

A Beginners Guide to Wallpaper

Modern Dining Room design by Dc Metro Paint And Wall Coverings Casart Coverings

Wallpaper Pastes

To paste or not to paste, that is the question.

Self-Adhesive: This no-mess option works like a sticker — peel off the backing and then attach the paper to the wall.

Pre-pasted: A little more complicated than its self-adhesive sister, this paper is coated with an adhesive that’s typically activated with water.

Non-paste: The most challenging of the group, this paper requires an additional paste or adhesive. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the best adhesive to apply.

Wallpaper Styles

Vinyl wallpaper is the industry standard and what makes up the bulk of most stores’ stock. If you’re looking for something a little fancier, try one of these options:

Flocked: A rich, elegant paper with a raised velvet pattern. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to clean.

Foil: A glamorous, metallic looking paper that really makes a statement.

A Beginners Guide to WallpaperContemporary Bathroom design by Portland Design-build Angela Todd Designs

Embossed: A textured wallpaper perfect for covering up a wall’s imperfections. Make matching the paper to your room’s decor much easier by choosing a paintable version.

A Beginners Guide to Wallpaper

Woven: More subdued than other options, this subtly textured wallpaper is woven from grass cloth or linen. As a bonus, it’s eco-friendly.

A Beginners Guide to Wallpaper

Eclectic Living Room design by Vancouver Interior Designer Gaile Guevara


Wallpaper Tips

You don’t want to end up with a wall full of regret. Follow these tips and you’ll be in the clear.

  • Many apartment buildings don’t allow wallpapering. Contact your landlord before you start the process.
  • Bring home samples of four or five papers you like. Tape them to the wall and see which one you can live with.
  • Love a bold print, but feel like it’s too overwhelming for the whole room? Use the wallpaper on a single wall and paint the other three a complementary colour.
  • Those homeowners who like having a fresh interior every few years should choose a wallpaper that’s easy to remove.
  • Know that a horizontal patterns make the room wider and a vertical one make it look taller.

Have any additional wallpaper tips? Leave them in the comment box below.

By Megan Mostyn-Brown

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