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How to Choose Wallpaper

Putting up wallpaper is a quick and easy way to transform the look of a room. It is often chosen because its installation is quicker and it offers a wider variety of colours, motifs and textures than paint.

The Types of Wallpaper Materials

Not all wallpapers are made of paper. Other commonly used materials offer certain advantages and are suitable for specific applications and rooms.

A wallpaper has two layers: a top layer visible to everyone when installed and a base layer or backing that sticks to the wall.

The Right Wallpaper Sizes

To determine how much wallpaper will cover the wall you want to decorate, start by calculating the square footage of the area.

Need help to calculate the necessary quantities of wallpaper required? Use our calculator.
Wallpaper calculator

Pro tip

Make sure all the rolls have the same batch number. This ensures uniformity, as there are small variations in colour between different batches of matching wallpaper.

Manufacturers usually put the sizes of wallpaper rolls on their labels and in product descriptions. Purchasing an extra roll will help make up for errors and wastage during installation.

The Wallpaper Designs, Textures, and Patterns

Choose between flat and textured designs.

  • A flat design provides finer details and is best for embellished surface finishes that add metallic and glossy effects.
  • A textured finish looks more alive. Its raised surface adds depth to a room's decor and can help cover wall imperfections.

The motif on the surface of a wallpaper also contributes to its appearance. The most common options available include:

  • Plain: a simple, clean, printed look, usually with solid colours. This category includes paper and vinyl sheets that are available in textures ranging from papery to linen to leather.
  • Patterned: repeating patterns are ideal for establishing a theme. Most have hand- and screen-printed designs. Popular patterns include damask, geometric shapes, and floral motifs. Consider sheets with small repeating patterns for rooms with low ceilings and large patterns for spaces with high ceilings. Installing wallpaper with repeating patterns requires care and precision to produce a cohesive look.
  • Embossed: raised patterns that are different from regular textured wallpapers. The embossing on these sheets is usually more pronounced. Hang embossed rolls carefully as their patterns flatten easily when pressed down.
  • Flocked: textured fabrics bonded onto paper. Velvet is the most popular textile used. Manufacturers bind it to paper in recognizable patterns.

Pro tip

Wall liners underneath the wallpaper act as base layers that hide the imperfections while providing smooth surfaces for flat sheets. A good option to consider for flat wallpapers.

The Different Pattern Matching Techniques

It's important to consider how wallpaper sheets will match during hanging. When installing wallpaper for the first time, avoid sheets with small patterns. These are more difficult to match after cutting them into required sizes.

There are three types of pattern matches to know.

Straight Match

Sheets with this design have regular patterns that repeat across their widths. Matching multiple sheets side-by-side only requires aligning them at the same points to create a continuous look.

Drop Match

When the sheets have patterns that repeat in vertical and horizontal directions, they need to align in exact sequences to create a cohesive look. With this technique, there may be a lot of trimming waste.

Random Match

Wallpaper with a sparse or very dense pattern that does not repeat at regular intervals is the easiest to match since each strip does not have to line up with adjacent ones.  

Pro tip

Consider getting wallpaper with horizontal stripes to make a room appear wider. Vertical stripes will make the ceiling room look higher.

The Application Techniques

The three ways to hang wallpaper are paste the paper, paste the wall, and ready to paste. A wall covering usually needs only one of these methods.

Paste the Paper

This is the traditional method, and it involves applying the adhesive to the wallpaper backing before affixing it to the wall. This technique requires getting a pasting table and allowing the sheets to soak for a while allowing them to expand to their full size.

Paste the Wall

Consider using this method if you are new to wallpapering. It’s the fastest method and doesn’t need a paste table. Apply the adhesive paste to the wall and start papering immediately. This technique is also ideal for hanging patterned wallpaper as you can slide each strip into position. Removing air bubbles behind wallpaper is easier when using this method.

Self-Adhesive

Ready-pasted wallpaper has adhesive backings. To activate the adhesive, soak the sheets in water for the recommended amount of time. Then remove the stickers protecting the backings and apply the sheets to the wall.

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