by Kimberly Blackford
Wallpaper has evolved dramatically over the years. The Renaissance in Europe marks the beginning of decorative wall coverings. The social elite would hand large tapestries to add interest and insulation to the interior of the room. It was soon after that these large tapestries turned into rolls of paper applied to the walls. Most of the first wallpapers displayed nature scenes or a velvet-like pattern. It has adorned American homes since colonial times. In recent years, wallpaper comes in a variety of colors and patterns that can fit any style and space of the home.
It has not only evolved in style, but also in usage. Wallpaper is not only just for walls anymore. Many creative homeowners use wallpaper on shelves, doors, cabinets, stairs, lamps and any other item or place that needs a bit of flair. The main challenge that designers face is deciding where exactly to apply wallpaper. The proper application in just the right areas can have amazing, freshening effects to a drab wall.
Designs come in an endless array of colors, patterns and combinations. Retail brands of wallpaper range from $40 to $250, depending on the amount and material of the paper. The homeowner can even decide to have the texture papers that add dimension and feel to the room.
There are several different types of wallpaper:
Vinyl - Solid vinyl wallpaper is waterproof and the most durable wall covering. It is ideal for humid and high-traffic conditions, making it excellent for hallways, bathrooms, kitchens and playrooms. It is resistant to scrubbing, scrapes and bumps. However, removing it can be problematic thanks to its durability, so some people opt for vinyl coated paper instead.
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Vinyl Coated - This is considered the most common type of wallpaper. It has a protective coat of vinyl over the paper that makes it easy to clean and durable. Unlike complete vinyl, vinyl coated papers are more user-friendly and easier to remove.
Paper - In today’s time, it is fairly uncommon to find just plain, old wallpaper with no protective coating. Paper wallpaper was most popular back when wallpaper paste was only available in a flour mixture. It does not hold up very well, especially in humidity, because uncoated papers are delicate, tear easily and difficult to strip.
Embossed - Embossed wallpapers enjoy raised patterns pressed into vinyl or paper. They do remarkably well for hiding damaged or uneven surfaces. Their textured design often is accompanied with a colored pattern. Anaglypta refers to embossed wallpapers that are just texture with no design and are usually painted after installation. Since embossed papers are perfect for simulating tiles, many designers use them for covering problem ceilings and backsplashes.
Flocked - A felt-like material that resembles velvet is utilized in flocked wallpapers. Unfortunately, they fell out of popularity due to their old-fashioned and busy design. Some new styles are bringing them back into fashion little by little. Flocked wallpaper is best suited for low-traffic areas such as dining rooms and bedrooms.
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Fabric - Fabric wallpaper comes in two types. One type has a vinyl coating and is most often used in commercial areas. The other type is fabric with a paper backing more often used in residences. Although it looks beautiful, fabric papers can be difficult to hang, use a special paste and hard to keep clean.
Grass and Burlap - These wall coverings are popular at the moment because of the environmentally friendly trend. They have a natural feel since they are strips of real grass woven into sheets. Grass wallpapers are backed with paper, fabric or non-woven material and are best for low-traffic areas of the home.
Metallic - Mylar, foil and metallized films are laminated to paper or non-woven backings to create metallic wallpapers. They add shine and spark to
small spaces, however, tend to show wall flaws and are somewhat delicate.
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Once you have decided which type of wallpaper would be perfect for your home space, it is time to adhere it to the wall. Installing wallpaper is not any more difficult than painting and can be easier to clean up when the job is finished. First, prepare the walls for papering by removing nail heads, cracks and smoothing the surface. Next, balance the layout of the strips of papers. Make a plan that keeps the patterns intact next to doors, windows and the ceiling. Determine a strip’s best position by holding it against the wall and mark out where each strip will go. Now you are ready to prepare the paste if your wallpaper choice is not prepasted or peel and stick. Premixed paste is sold in buckets and ready to apply. You can also create a traditional wheat paste from flour and water. Line up the papers with your markings on the wall and apply. Flatten out freshly installed wallpaper with a plastic smoothing tool to rid any wrinkles and bubbles.
Although some believe wallpaper to be stale and old, a newly wallpapered space can add flair and style to a boring room. Many papers also serve as a protectant to the wall in high traffic areas. The final advantage to wallpaper is that it easily maintains its good looks for ten to fifteen years. So sit back, relax and enjoy your newly styled walls.
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