The History, The Different Types and How to Hang Wallpaper

The wall is the largest part of any given room that if your intention is to beauty or decorate a room, its walls are your first target. There are ways to make the walls of your home stand out. You can paint them with a single colour or in combination with any complimentary colour. You can faux paint your walls and come out with textured finishing et al. You can paint a mural or hang pictures in your wall for a finished touch.

One other wall finishing that has been around for since 4000 B.C is wallpaper. The Egyptian's version of paper was papyrus, invented in the 4th millennium B.C. but it was the Chinese who used paper for wall decors as early as 200 B.C. Wall decorating has been evident in men for since the beginning of time. The Egyptians and Romans had wall decorations to enhance their homes and tombs. The Egyptian hieroglyphics could have served two purposes for all we know - to tell a story and for decorations. Even the earliest cavemen drew crudely on the walls of their caves.

The evolution of wall decors reached a phase wherein luxurious fabrics were used to cover walls and windows (curtains) to ward off draught and beautify the homes of royalty and noblemen. These elaborate fabrics were called tapestries - practical and highly decorative.

The use of wallpaper started out as a cheap substitute for the expensive brocades and velvets used to cover walls. However, the advent of new techniques in printing and the introduction of coloured paper from China brought on a new beginning for the lowly wallpaper. The French dominated the wallpaper world in terms of fine designs and papers. Imported wallpaper was even banned from England until 1773.

Historic wallpapers each had a story to tell. The leading designs of a certain period are a reflection of that time - political and social.

Today, there are tens and thousands of wallpaper designs that you can choose from. For accents, a border matching the main design of wallpaper is also available. Fifty years ago, the choices in designs were very limited. Today, think of any design, colour, character, thickness of paper, kind of backing and what not and you're more than likely to get what you want.

Types of Wallpaper

There used to be one type of wallpaper and that is "paper" sheets glued to walls as decorative material. The advances in technology not only brought about new concepts in wallpaper designs but also different types of wallpaper for varying conditions. Where there is condensation, woe on the common wallpaper.

  • Vinyl coated wallpaper is the regular or common wallpaper that has been treated with polyvinyl chloride or acrylic vinyl. These are durable wallpaper that can withstand grease, grime and humidity. This type is best suited for the kitchen and bathroom and basement. This wallpaper can be washed and stripped.
  • Coated fabric has an underlying layer of fabric that is coated with liquid vinyl. This is high-maintenance wallpaper and cannot be applied where there is a high level of humidity. This is best used where there is low humidity say in a study or library part of your home.
  • Paper backed vinyl has a layer of pulp or paper backed to a vinyl surface. This is an all around, all weather wallpaper that is the most widely used globally. It's easy to clean and can be peeled off without much trouble when the time comes.
  • Fabric backed vinyl has a layer of fabric that is laminated to a layer of vinyl. There are two types: Solid vinyl and paper wallpaper. Solid vinyl is a layer of paper or fabric laminated to vinyl film. Paper wallpaper consists of a layer of decorative paper that doesn't necessarily have a protective layer of lamination.

New Designs and Materials

Wallpaper continues to evolve. There are new materials, adhesives, backings and coatings that are being developed by wallpaper manufacturers all over the world. You can have a choice of wallpaper that is not paper in the genre of grass cloth. There are murals that can be made to order to cover a large area of wall. Materials such as silk, burlap, leather and grass are also available. If you were presented with the myriad of available from one manufacturer, you'll be overwhelmed. What more from several manufacturers and designers?

Most wallpaper come in rolls with a width of 18 to 27 inches wide. A roll normally has the capacity to cover 36 square feet but it could do down to 30 per square feet due to waste in matching.

DIY Wallpapering

Anyone with enough patience can do wallpapering. The key is to be patient and not rush on gluing the paper on the wall. For wallpapers that have peel-off backing for adhesives, the important thing is to make sure that the wallpaper is laid out and peeled off first at the corners so as to avoid bubbles on the finished wallpaper application. More wallpaper experts prefer the use of liquid glue that is applied on the back of the wallpaper. The wet glue on the wallpaper makes the material pliable and easy to move and align. You can always try to partially lift and reapply glue on the wallpaper if your layout isn't quite right.

The first thing to do when doing a wallpaper job is to clean the intended wall. See if the wall needs to be spackled. Apply latex primer if need be. Measure the wall from certain points then cut your wallpaper accordingly. Roll out the strips of wallpaper and apply thin glue. Start at the top of the wall going down when applying the wallpaper. Brush it down lightly to avoid bubbles. Keep a rag handy for "glue" accidents. Line up the pattern each time you apply the next strip. Use a seam press after the 10 to 15 minutes of pasting the wallpaper. Continue doing the routine until you're done.