When it comes to freshening up tired walls, you’re pretty much faced with two options: paint or wallpaper. Whilst the condition of the walls can be a factor in your decision, wallpaper offers much more scope to be creative – but while the colour and pattern needs to be chosen carefully, you also need to make sure it’s suitable for the area you’re decorating.
Let’s take a quick look at the most common types of wallpaper and when/where they’re best used…
Not to be confused with vinyl wallpaper, washable papers are made with a transparent coating that’s thick and sturdy enough to be wiped down fairly regularly – but don’t mistake that for suitability in high-condensation areas, like bathrooms. Great for grubby little hands, so can be ideal for a kid’s bedroom.
These papers have always been popular in older houses where the plaster has seen better days. The raised pattern works wonders at hiding imperfections in the walls, and they’re long lasting because they can be painted when the patterns begin to wear and you need another quick refresh.
A great all-rounder! Vinyl papers are reasonably hardwearing, washable and very easy to hang, making them ideal for almost any situation. They can, however, be tougher to strip, simply because they’re so waterproof.
Like vinyl coated papers but on steroids! These are very tough, highly waterproof and very easy to cut and hang. They’re perfect for areas where water’s a problem, so we recommend them for bathrooms – especially ones without extractor fans. While there are lots of pros, there is one con – and that’s that they can be a nightmare to strip because of their naturally high resistance to soaking up water!
Another relatively cheap way to hide imperfections, but much less commonly seen now as it’s perhaps a little old-fashioned. Woodchip can be made washable if you apply a waterproof paint over it, and you can refresh with extra coats if you want to brighten it up or change the colour.
A very cheap patterned type of wallpaper that requires some care to hang correctly because it’s usually relatively thin and is prone to stretching – this can make pattern matching difficult and result in poor results if they shrink back as the paste dries.
Another excellent choice if your walls are a bit tired and bumpy. Anaglypta embossed papers come in a multitude of patterns ─ some random, some geometric ─ and usually require a coat or two of paint to finish them off. Random patterns are much easier to hang, so are ideal for less experienced DIYers!
Very much like embossed papers, and another great option for hiding less than perfect walls.
Those craggy old walls are well catered for, with yet another choice for covering up the cracks ─ especially in bathrooms and kitchens due to its waterproof nature.
One of the oldest wallpapers around, flock’s still very popular in restaurants and pubs, but can also make a great statement on a feature wall in your home. They’re delicate, however, so they may not be the best option if you have kids running around.
Very expensive and tricky to get to grips with, but this wallpaper can produce stellar results. Hand-printed papers are produced by applying a printing block, the width of the paper, by hand. If you fancy something as exotic as this you’ll definitely want to employ a professional to hang it to ensure it looks as good as intended – and be prepared to spend a pretty penny as it’s not the cheapest option on the market!
As the name implies, these papers are well made, thick and beautifully designed. They’re often at the forefront of modern design and can cost over £100 a roll! Whilst a DIY enthusiast could hang a paper of this quality, it’s another one that we’d recommend handing it over to a professional.
Metallic papers look great on the wall and are often a real talking point. Like mirrors they can make a room look bigger, but it pays to be very careful whilst hanging them to protect the pattern ─ you definitely don’t want to fold or crease these.
Fabric backing is used on certain foil and vinyl papers to add strength and durability. In essence, the paper backing is replaced with fabric, so they’re super strong, very easy to hang and can be stripped off in whole sheets when the time comes to start again! Perfect for mucky hands because they can be scrubbed like a carpet if necessary.
Natural silk papers are beautiful and delicate, but perhaps not suitable for the average family living room. It’s tricky to hang, easy to rip and completely intolerant of paste that’s been inexpertly splashed on the pattern during the hanging process. They’re worth the trouble for a feature wall in a low traffic area, but you’ll probably want to let a pro have the fun of hanging them.
Borders are fun! Use them to panel doors, add features to plain walls, split walls between patterned and plain paper ─ let your imagination go wild! They come in many patterns and are usually paper backed with vinyl coating for a reasonably hardwearing life.
If you’re more concerned with getting the existing paper off before hanging the new, then our ‘stripping wallpaper the easy way‘ blog might help – and if you need a hand with hanging your chosen paper and you live in the Leeds area, please feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation estimation!