Apr07

Wallpaper: 7 Things to Know Before You Buy

Wallpaper is a terrific way to spruce up a room. With a multitude of colors and patterns to choose from, it’s an easy way to add some style and flair to your home even if you aren’t artistic. The key is not to get hung up on the details, because with just a bit of know how, hanging wallpaper isn’t as difficult as you think.

Fact #1: Measure, Measure, and Measure

When buying wallpaper, don’t leave your house without measuring. Most experts suggest you figure out the width and height of each wall in the room to come up with the square footage. After you measure them, calculate the square footage of areas that won’t be covered such as windows and doors and subtract these numbers from the overall wall measurements. You’ll find that most rolls of wallpaper are 56 square feet; however, figure with normal waste you’ll lose about 18% so you’ll basically get about 46 square feet per roll. Remember, it’s better to overestimate than under estimate!

Also jot down things such as the batch and run or dye lot numbers just in case you run out of paper. Even when buying wallpaper, take note of these numbers to make sure all rolls have the same number. Colors can vary slightly by number, and if the color is even slightly different in your wallpaper, you will spot it each time you look at your walls.

Fact # 2: Is It Wallpaper or Is It …

Every once in a while you’ll see the term wall covering. That’s because you can use more than paper and vinyl to decorate your walls. You can also cover them with fabric, foil, grass cloth and more.

However, most stock wallpaper contains vinyl to a certain extent. It’s easy to hang, clean and remove. You’ll find wallpaper with vinyl film over fabric that is extremely versatile as well as lightweight vinyl backed with paper that is perfect for walls with imperfections because it mimics the existing wall surface. When buying paper coated with a veneer of vinyl take care, as this type can only be used on smooth walls and tears and stains easily.

Embossed wallpaper is also simple to hang and clean. If your walls have imperfections this type of wallpaper is ideal and is textured to add an interesting look to your decor. It can also be painted when you want to switch things around a bit.

Other wall coverings can be difficult to hang and even clean. Fabric wallpaper needs a special clear paste, and grass cloth wall coverings are not only difficult to hang and clean, but also need a clear adhesive to prevent bleeding. Flocked and foil wall coverings can be difficult to hang too. And while foil is easy to clean, you need to make sure your walls have no damage or flaws before hanging.  

Fact #3: You Can Create an Optical Illusion with Patterns

The great thing about wallpaper is that you can change the look of a room with not only color but pattern. You may not want to wear a top with horizontal stripes, but on your walls, a horizontal pattern can make the room look wider. Vertical patterns add the illusion of height to a room, which is not only great for a room with low ceilings, but also a dramatic addition to a space with high ceilings. However, if the ceiling and walls in a room aren’t perfectly squared you may want to avoid horizontal patterns, and if the walls aren’t perfectly squared or perfectly vertical you may want to avoid vertical patterns.

If your room isn’t perfectly square, a great solution is a drop pattern. Look for a pattern that repeats diagonally across the strip. Of course, in order to perfectly match up this type of wallpaper, you are going to need additional paper.

Fact # 4: Understand the Term “Pattern Repeat”

In wallpaper when it comes to some patterns you need to pay extra attention when adding the next strip to make sure the pattern is lining up. You’ll hear a term called “pattern repeat”, which is the vertical distance between where the pattern repeats again. Depending on the pattern, the distance can be anywhere from less than an inch to as much as the entire width of the wallpaper.

If you choose a straight across pattern, make sure that the design matches on both sides of the strip. If you have a drop pattern, besides buying some extra wallpaper, be ready to do some planning. This pattern requires that you align it both vertically and horizontally on either side of the strip. The half-drop pattern requires three strips of wallpaper to repeat the vertical design, and the multiple drop design can take four or more strips.

Don’t want to deal with this? Choose a wallpaper pattern that is random and then there is no need to make sure it matches up.

Fact # 5: You Don’t Have to Paste

When it comes to wallpaper, many people still have the image of the do-it-yourselfer running paste along the strip of paper and getting all tangled up in his work. However wallpaper now comes in pre-pasted, self-adhesive and non-pasted. Which do you choose? For simple, fool-proof wall hanging, choose self-adhesive wallpaper that you simply peel the back off and stick the paper in place. As for pre-pasted wallpaper, it’s pre-coated with adhesive and all you need is water or a manufacturer activator to activate the paste. Non-pasted wallpaper can be the most difficult to hang. This type of wallpaper has no pre-paste or adhesive so paste or adhesive is needed to hang it. This can also be called “dryback” wallpaper.

Fact # 6: Eventually It Will Have to Come Off

You may not be thinking of removing your new wallpaper, but even if it happens years from now, you’ll want to consider how easy it is to remove. If you need to remove strippable or peelable wallpaper, you just start at a corner of the paper and pull it away from the wall. However, with peelable wallpaper a thin layer of paper can remain so you need to use soap and water. Most pre-pasted and self-adhesive wallpaper are either strippable or peelable. The most difficult to remove is non-pasted wallpaper.

Fact # 7: Choose Easy to Clean

When it comes to your walls, you want them to be easy to clean, especially in certain rooms. Look for stain-resistant wallpaper that’s great for kitchens, hallways and children’s rooms, and scrubbable for kid’s rooms and hallways that can be scrubbed with a brush and mild detergent. Moisture-resistant is great for bathrooms, but this doesn’t mean it is waterproof, so avoid lining the walls of your bathtub with it.  If your wallpaper is listed as washable, usually it has a vinyl coating, so you can just use a sponge.

Look into completing your room’s fresh new look with a coordinating wall border. With a little know-how, and a few finishing touches, you’ll be hanging wallpaper like a pro and transforming your walls into a work of art.

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