5 Things to Know Before Adding Wallpaper to Your Home

Adding wallpaper to a room doesn't have to be intimidating. Here are some expert tips to get you started.

As a designer, I can’t get enough of wallpaper, but I often see clients who are nervous about adding this wallcovering to their homes. Yet wallpaper isn’t nearly as high-maintenance as we’ve all been led to believe, and it is possible to have a long and happy life with it.

If you’re thinking about incorporating wallpaper into your home design, here are some expert tips to help set your mind at ease — and make sure you do the job right, from start to finish.

1. Good-Quality Adhesives Are a Must

Contrary to popular belief, wallpaper is not forever.

In the past, wallpaper adhesives were made of wheat paste, which didn’t dissolve easily and made getting the paper off the wall very difficult. Today, both the sticking and the stripping process is made easier with the use of cellulose-based adhesives, which are activated by water.

Cellulose-based adhesives mean you needn’t give a second thought to the prospect of removing your wallpaper sometime down the road. If you decide to sell your house or change the design a few years from now, you won’t risk damaging your walls by removing the paper.

2. Consider Hiring a Wallpaper Installer

As an interior designer, I know the value of hiring an experienced person to install wallpaper. Using such a professional ensures that the right steps are taken to prep and prime your walls. It also ensures that the paper will be applied to last — but be easy to remove should that day come.

Hiring a wallpaper installer is money well spent, but if you do decide to install the paper yourself, make sure you do your research and buy a high-quality adhesive.

Pro tip: My go-to wallpaper installer, John Alexander Arnold Wall Coverings, uses and recommends Shur-Stik 23 all-surface primer or Golden Harvest’s GH-34 as an adhesive.

Regardless of who’s doing the installing, make sure to read your wallpaper’s individual instructions and do what’s appropriate for your walls.

Learning about your walls (and perhaps also the history of your home) is the easiest way to avoid problems.

Related: Get Your Wall Coverings Installed by an Experienced Pro

3. Prep and Prime Like a Pro

Making sure that your walls are properly prepped to receive the wallpaper is half the battle.

By treating the walls before the paper is applied, you ensure proper bonding — and the ability to align the seams with perfection. You don’t want the wallpaper to move, peel or pull at the seams over time.

Pro tip: Porous walls may need to be sealed, otherwise there can be too much (or not enough) bonding, leaving an inconsistent or non-uniform look to your walls. This is one reason to consider hiring a wallpaper installer.

4. Papers Aren’t Created Equal

When it comes to choosing your wallpaper, it’s helpful to know that there are different types of backings, some of which are easier to remove than others.

The visible side of most residential wallpapers are vinyl, which is highly durable and easily washable, making it much lower-maintenance than you might think.

Within the vinyl wallpaper category, there are generally three kinds of backings, each of which affects durability and removability. They are woven, non-woven and paper-back.

Woven and non-woven backings are both highly durable and easily washable and are easier to strip off than paper-back wallpapers, which can scratch and tear more easily.

When it comes to cost, however, woven and non-woven backings are more expensive, leaving paper-back in the lead for the budget-minded.

5. Pay Attention When Picking a Print

You’ll find that different brands manufacture their wallpapers in different ways, so if you find a paper you love, you (unfortunately) can’t pick the backing.

Truth be told, when my clients find a wallpaper they really love, I usually tell them to just go for it! However, if your home or budget have special considerations, you may want to be more choosy in your wallpaper-picking process.

Related: Find Stylish Home Decor Products to Match the Wallpaper


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