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BedBathMore’s Guide to Wallpaper for the Home

Paint or wallpaper? The debate has been going on for quite some time now and shows no sign of abating. Paint enthusiasts can’t think beyond that medium while wallpaper lovers swear by their choice.

According to the Hite Report, developed for the Bell Systems by Jim Hite, lifecycle analysis has indicated that wallpapers often last five times longer than paint (under normal usage conditions). Most vinyl wallpapers retain their beauty and performance characteristics for at least 15 years. Now compare this to a painted surface, which needs frequent cleaning and repainting every three to five years. Perhaps that is the reason for wallpaper’s growing popularity.


The main reasons that many designers, architects and consumers are opting for wallpapers these days include:

  • Long life: Wallpaper can, and does, outlast a painted area by almost seven years, if applied properly. The wall that has to be wallpapered must be prepared carefully and all hanging and after-care instructions should be followed.

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  • Wide variety: A range of textured paints may be available on the market, but people have figured out that getting a wall painted with a textured finish leads to double the labour, cost, and effort. Why do all that when a wallpaper that provides the same effect is available.

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  • Easy to change: Updating the look of your room is a breeze when wallpaper is involved. Also a wallpapered area is easy to repair as compared to a painted area. Just measure the damaged area, cut a bigger piece from the leftover roll and paste it on the wall.


Wallpapers are available in rolls between 18 and 27 inches wide and the size of paper is usually 36 square feet. While buying wallpapers remember that they are available in runs and it is better to buy rolls from the same run. Wallpapers from different runs will have certain differences in colour, which will not only make matching difficult but will also give an uneven look to your walls.

A Wide Variety

The wallpaper industry divides the manufacture of wallpaper into two – those used in residences and those in businesses or public buildings. The two differ when it comes to weight, serviceability and quality standards. Wallpapers for residential are made from various materials, can be pre-pasted or unpasted, and do not need serviceability tests. Commercial-grade wallpapers are classified based on weight, backing composition, and laminate/coating thickness.


Printed and vinyl wallpaper: If you are looking for a good all-purpose wallpaper, go for vinyl. This kind of wallpaper – available in a huge variety of colors and patterns – is fairly easy to apply, clean and maintain, and is extensively used in bathrooms, kitchens, and children’s bedrooms.


Embossed wallpaper: This type of wallpaper creates a texture for your walls, or ceiling. It is particularly useful if applied to uneven walls or walls with cracks, as it helps hide the damage. Some textured wallpaper also allows faux finishing and decorative painting.


Foil wallpaper: Do you want to highlight a certain portion of your wall? If yes, then opt for foil wallpaper. Foil wallpaper has a metallic backing and creates a luxurious setting. However, it is not an easy wallpaper to work with as it gets wrinkled easily, revealing all the defects in the wall behind it.


Flock wallpaper: It may be a old-style wallpaper with its raised velvet patterns, but flock wallpaper lends superlative decorative highlights in formal areas such as drawing rooms. It is washable, but desist from constant rubbing and scrubbing as it can harm the paper.


Woodchip wallpaper: This inexpensive wallpaper gives your wall a grainy texture that can also be painted over. Woodchip paper is a good way to disguise walls with small imperfections. However, it can be a tad tough to remove as the wood grains often stick to the wall very firmly.


Fabric wallpaper: Fabric on the walls looks good, but can be a nightmare to clean. Opt for fabric wallpaper, which is paper-backed and ready to be hung on your wall. Available in a large range, it adds colour and chutzpah to any room.


Manufacturers are also coming out with wallpapers made of materials such as grass cloth, silk and satin these days. These wallpapers may be more difficult to work with, but the results are absolutely amazing.


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