Wallpaper 101: Tips for Tackling Your First Project

Ready to try your hand at one of 2015’s top home decor trends? These tips for beginners have got you covered.

Source: Zillow Digs

Today’s wallpaper is worlds away from the chintzy coverings that once graced the walls of your grandmother’s kitchen. Whether it’s because the patterns have improved or because interior design trends are cyclical, wallpaper is making a comeback. More homeowners are reconsidering wallpaper and discovering that, thanks to manufacturing advances, it’s easier to hang than ever.

To the uninitiated, however, hanging wallpaper can be daunting. But anyone can learn the ways of wallpaper, and the following advice can help.

Placement

Know this: The wallpaper you install in 2015 may be around much longer than you’re expecting. It’s not at all unusual for a homeowner to keep the same wallpaper for 15 or 20 years.

So when you’re in the early stages of planning your wallpaper project, consider the long term. Do you think you’ll like the pattern as much in a few years as you do today? In 20 years, is it possible that the room you’re covering with wallpaper will be serving a different purpose?

If this is your first time hanging wallpaper, choose a long, uninterrupted wall. Features like doorways and corners require extra trimming and aligning. While not impossible to overcome, those obstacles do add complexity.

Also, remember that with wallpaper — like bold paint colors — a little goes a long way. Instead of wallpapering the entire room, consider covering just one surface as a feature or accent wall.

Type

Wallpaper isn’t always paper. In fact, most of the time it’s vinyl. Of all the options available, self-adhesive vinyl is the most manageable for novices.

Although most products in this category are now self-adhesive or pre-treated with a water-activated glue, you can still go out of your way to find wallpaper that requires the traditional roll-on pasting method. If you’ve never wallpapered before, chances are the roll-on paste had a lot to do with your choice to abstain. Steer clear.

Keep maintenance in mind. In a home with pets and/or children, durability and washability are considerations as important as color and pattern. Many wallpapers are specially manufactured with stain-resistant properties. Focus on these if you’re concerned about the wallpaper’s ability to withstand wear and tear.

Style

The wallpaper you like most may not be the best choice for your skill level. Try to select a pattern you feel confident you can hang properly.

Source: Zillow Digs

Textured solids are probably most appropriate for beginners who are unsure of their abilities. Because they’re not patterned, solid color papers do not need to be carefully aligned as they’re hung. And if imperfections exist — either in your application of the paper or in the irregularity of the room itself — these problems can stay hidden.

While many people love the look of striped wallpaper, it’s unforgiving. It’s tricky to line up properly, even for those who have done it before, and if the room isn’t perfectly level and square, striped wallpaper calls attention to these defects. Hung properly in ideal circumstances, though, striped wallpaper draws the eye upward to make a small room seem taller.

If you’re considering a patterned wallpaper, don’t forget that patterns repeat. While you might like a particular patterned sample, ask yourself whether you’d like to see that sample reproduced over and over across the breadth of the space you’re redecorating. Maybe, maybe not—in the end, it’s a matter of taste.

Generally speaking, patterns with a repeat of six inches or fewer tend to appear quite busy, particularly in humbly proportioned rooms. But that busy-ness can be a blessing if you end up misaligning adjoining sheets.

Larger patterns with a repeat of 12 inches or more are much easier on the eye, but a quality installation demands real precision.

Measuring

If the first challenge was selecting one wallpaper from among the countless options on the market, the next hurdle is determining how much of it to buy.

Luckily, this part isn’t as hard as what you’ve already managed to do. My rule of thumb? Don’t buy too little. You can avoid that by taking careful measurements.

Start by determining the square footage of each wall you plan to cover. For each wall, multiply the width by the height. If multiple walls are involved, add together the different square footages you’ve calculated.

Next, from the total project square footage, subtract 10 square feet for every door or full-size window. Then buy enough wallpaper to cover that many square feet — the total square footage of the walls, less the doors and windows.

Complicating matters is the reality that, in the course of hanging wallpaper, you’re almost definitely going to create waste, because some of the wallpaper you’re buying isn’t going to make it to the wall. This is especially true with patterned paper that must be trimmed to line up correctly with the previously applied sheet. It’s a good idea to purchase one or two extra rolls.

If you’ve read this far, you probably have the stick-to-itiveness to hang wallpaper. Yes, the process makes painting seem appealingly effortless in comparison. But while wallpaper may be more demanding, the work comes with a reward: Wallpaper creates eye-catching effects that even the most meticulously applied paint can hardly match.

Originally published by Bob Vila on Zillow Blog

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