Today there’s a lot more than paper behind the use of the word “wallpaper.” Many other materials—including vinyl, metallic, grasscloth, fiber, fabric, and wood veneers—are lending new life to old walls. The home decorating industry has even adopted a new terminology for all these types of rolled materials—they’re called “wallcoverings.”
As you shop for wallpaper, you’ll soon discover that choosing one is not as easy as you first imagined. The myriad options in materials, styles, colors, and patterns, as well as coordinating borders and fabrics, will have you dizzy from all the creative applications you’ll be visualizing. You’ll also find many wallpapers that are prepasted, scrubbable, and strippable, features that make application, cleaning, and removal a snap.
To help you make your decision, we begin with a description of the types of wallpapers available, as well as instructions for determining how much you’ll need to order. Regardless of the kind of wallpaper you choose, taking time for adequate surface penetration is very important.
Your Choices in Materials
When you’re ready to begin shopping for wallpaper, be prepared to spend many hours looking through the hundreds of samples in the manufacturer’s books. Often, the books will have color photographs of rooms decorated with those wallpapers, allowing you to see how a pattern looks when it’s repeated across a whole wall, and how the pattern’s size relates to the rest of the room.
The sample book will also provide information on the size of a pattern repeat, the yardage in a bolt, the type of adhesive to use, the care instructions, and the cost. Take all of these into consideration in making your final decision.
If you’re a beginner, you may want to consider prepasted and pretrimmed wallpapers. Also, take into account the function of the room to determine if you need a scrubbable wallpaper or if a washable finish is sufficient.
Most shops let you borrow their sample books overnight. Take this opportunity to see how a particular wallpaper will work in your home. Note how it looks in the light of the room, how it blends with the existing colors, and most importantly, how you and your family react to having it there.
It may be that you’ll spend days thumbing through samples and carrying books back and forth to the store. But once you’ve decided on material and pattern, the actual hanging may take only a weekend.