Not Your Ouma’s Wallpaper
Wallpaper has graced the walls of homes for hundreds of years. If you consider the fact that the Chinese began gluing rice paper onto their walls as early 200 BC, you could make the argument that wallpaper has been in style for thousands of years. Either way, the popularity of wallpaper on a global scale has been a constant for over, an astonishing, 500 years! In that time, patterns; textiles; installation and manufacturing of wallpaper has been closely linked to technological advances, decor trends and social change.
With the recent revival of wallpaper as the go-to option for bold, fashion forward homes and feature walls, we asked Clare Kearney, Owner of Wallpaper Inn a few questions to help guide you through the world of modern wallpaper.
What is a key step or tip that people tend to miss when hanging wallpaper?
Firstly, always make sure you have bought wallpaper from the same dye lot so that you don’t have a colour variation on the wall. If you have a dark wallpaper, it is always best to paint your wall in preparation with a matching colour. If the wallpaper shrinks slightly for any reason, you won’t see white gaps peeping through.
Start hanging your wallpaper in the middle of your feature wall and work around the room left and right from the centre panel. Make sure you start with a vertical line. I recommend using a plumb bop for best results as laser levels and levels can be slightly out.
I’ve seen lots of instructions to “book” your wallpaper, what is that and why do you need to do it?
Some wallpapers need time to soak up the glue and soften before hanging. Booking means that you first apply glue to your cut length of paper, fold the top half to the middle (glued sides together) then the bottom half is folded up to meet the top fold. You can then fold in half again. Now you can put that 1st length aside and start gluing the next. Once you have glued a few strips you can start hanging. It is easier to carry a ‘booked’ strip up a ladder. Now you can slowly unfold the top half and position it on your wall. Once that’s in place you can unfold the bottom half and smooth the paper onto the wall.
How has the installation of wallpaper changed in recent years?
Non-woven wallpapers are a fantastic product. You can apply the glue directly to the wall and then hang your cut lengths of wallpaper. You don’t have to apply glue to the paper! Other than that the usual rules for hanging paper remains the same.
Can wallpaper be hung on textured walls?
No it can’t. Your paper hanger will suggest skimming your wall before applying. If it’s just a few cracks and bumps, he can fill, sand, and if necessary, use a lining paper to make the wall really smooth before applying your beautiful paper.
What do you do if you move into a home with wallpaper and you’d like to change it? Can you wallpaper or paint over it or does it need to be removed first?
Removal is always preferred. You cannot stick wallpaper onto vinyl paper. When removing vinyl paper you need to pull the outer layer off and then wet the backing paper with a sponge. A simple paint scraper works to scrape the soggy paper from the wall.
Non-woven wallpapers will come off in sheets and are very easy to remove quickly, there is no need to soak non-woven papers.
What are some of the most popular designs or your recommendations for a first-time wallpaper purchase?
Our most popular designs at the moment are natural textures, bricks, bold prints and tropical designs, but you still need to choose something that you absolutely love. Wallpaper can last for years so you don’t want to change it constantly. If you are nervous about hanging it yourself, choose something that doesn’t have a pattern match.
In what unique ways can wallpaper be used?
Wallpaper is so versatile and is used in a bathroom, kitchen or even on your ceiling. Vinyl papers work best in an area where there is steam.
Wallpaper in a kitchen is easier than tiling and can be updated easily – Just make sure you use a tempered glass panel behind your hob or oven for heat. Vinyls can be cleaned with a damp sponge and mild detergent. Ceiling papers are beautiful and can finish off your ceiling to perfection.
If you have any questions, you can contact Wallpaper Inn on 087 359 1682 or visit one of their showrooms in Johannesburg, Cape Town or East London.
This article first appeared in our September Digital Issue. Read it here.