A wallcovering’s material content determines its durability, cleanability, cost, and ease of installation and removal. Before purchasing any wallpaper, ask about these qualities, as well as about the manufacturer’s guarantees.
Before you choose a wallcovering, know the effect you want to achieve. If possible, take along samples of the room’s upholstery fabric and carpeting, as well as a list of prominently featured textures and colors. Also bring along a photo and scale drawing of the room to help you visualize different wallpapers in the space. Then, before buying, bring home samples to see how they look in the room by day and night.
Don't necessarily think in terms of papering an entire room. Maybe you can get the look you want by papering just one wall or the ceiling. You may decide to use two coordinating papers (if they are both hung on one wall, the darker pattern should be on the bottom), separated by a border. At the ceiling line, a border can accentuate a crown moulding or compensate for the lack of one; chair rail borders lend a traditional feel to a room.
The most popular wallcoverings are made of a continuous, flexible vinyl film applied to a backing. They are durable, strong, and easy to maintain. Backings may be fabric or paper.
Fabric-backed vinyl, the sturdiest wallpaper, is washable (often scrubbable), moisture resistant, and usually strippable (meaning it can be removed from the wall by hand without leaving any residue). Fabric-backed vinyl usually comes unpasted.
Paper-backed vinyl is lightweight, so it often comes prepasted. Paper-backed expanded vinyl produces a 3D effect and is especially suited to walls that aren’t perfectly smooth. It comes in styles that mimic the look of rough plaster, granite, textured paint, or grass cloth.
Vinyl-coated paper is paper coated with a vinyl layer so thin it looks like paper. It lends a finished look to a wall but is best for light-use areas because it stains and tears more easily than papers that have greater vinyl content.
These wallcoverings come in many colors and textures, in styles ranging from very casual to formally elegant. They’re usually made of natural fibers such as cotton or linen, or of polyester bonded to a paper backing.
A traditional favorite is grass cloth, which can be hung horizontally, vertically, or in a combination of the two. Hemp, similar to grass cloth but with thinner fibers, is easier to install.
This vividly colorful paper is more expensive than most machine-printed wallpapers because each color is applied with a separate handmade and hand-placed silk screen. Some newer machine-printed papers have the look of hand-screened ones and are less expensive.
Hanging these types of papers can be tricky. Patterns may match less evenly than many other wallcoverings, and edges often need to be trimmed and double-cut at seams. Also, because water-soluble dyes are often used in their manufacture, great care must be taken to ensure that the printed side is kept free of paste and water.
Paper wallcoverings with no vinyl content tear easily and should only be considered for extremely light-use areas.
Foils & flocks
Foils and flocks (paper resembling damask or cut velvet) can brighten up any small, dark space. They require an absolutely smooth wall surface and can wrinkle easily.
Glass Fibre wallcoverings are decorative fabrics used for covering of walls, doors, furniture and other interior areas. They can be stuck on plaster, concrete, wood and other surfaces. These products are manufactured from non alkaline glass fibres and are stiffened by a water based dispersal binder. Some companies like Saint Gobain manufacture these.
The inclusion of vinyl and woven fabric backing material means that such wallcoverings can take more wear and tear than ordinary wallpaper. And certain wallcoverings can protect the wall better than paint.
Uneven walls or surfaces in poor condition
Certain wallpapers or coverings have particular emboss/print combinations that make them exceptionally good at hiding cracks or other damage that may lay beneath them
Bio-Pruf contains an ingredient that inhibits the growth of bacteria and micro-organisms, making it especially suitable for use in hospitals, where it can reduce the risk of cross-infection.
Many wallcoverings are tested to the highest fire safety standards and you may want to check this feature with the wallcovering that you are buying.
Wallcoverings can be washed and in many cases scrubbed repeatedly to remove any accidental marks without damaging the product itself.
Wallcoverings can be optionally coated with products like Tedlar, a film that enables the wallcovering to withstand staining.
Quicker to apply
With some wallcoverings, the decorated area is ready for use immediately. You need not wait for several coats of paint to dry and odours to disperse.
Taking into account maintenance costs and the longer lifespan of wallcoverings, it needn't cost more than paint, and in fact can often be a more cost effective solution.
Digital print makes it possible to create any unique designs you wish, from large schemes many metres high and wide, to a several metres length of wallcovering bearing your pictures or name. You can imagine the possibilities and create them based on your walls. Brands like Muraspec provides such options.
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