Different Types of Wallcovering
`Wallpapers’ — patterns and textures by the roll, as most people think of them — come in a number of different types. Often it’s the design that influences your choice, but you should also pick the right type for the job.
True wallpapers — pure paper with a printed design — are probably the wallcoverings with which most people are familiar, but there are wallcoverings made of other materials as well, such as plastics and woven fabrics.
There are wallcoverings which are particularly good at covering up uneven surfaces or at coping in areas where they are likely to be subject to damp conditions.
Some are ideal for places round the house where they will have to put up with very heavy wear; others are more fragile and are best used purely for decorative effect.
Surface printed papers
Surface printed papers are among the least expensive wallpapers. They are colourfast, and can be printed in up to 20 colours in any one design.
Thinner types need careful hanging to avoid them being overstretched and then tearing. They can usually be lightly wiped when dirty but must not be washed, so don’t use them on walls which are subject to wear. Hand-printed wallpapers are much more expensive. They are sold in a variety of roll widths and lengths and usually the side edges need trimming to match patterns. Cross-lining is also recommended. Don’t hang these where there is steam or condensation.
Washable wallpapers come in two types. The first is really just printed wallpaper that has been given a clear protective coating of polyvinyl acetate (PVA). The second is printed with water-resistant inks. Both types come in standard sized rolls and are ideal in rooms where a washable wall surface is required.
Washable wallpapers should not be scrubbed, or rubbed too hard or you’ll break through the coating. Coated washable papers can be difficult to remove — you need to score the surface before soaking and stripping.
‘Whites’ or relief wallpapers
‘Whites’ or relief wallpapers are made from thicker paper (Anaglypta and other paper-based types) or from cotton fibres (Supaglypta), and once hung are intended to be painted over with emulsion or resin-based paints. The surface is embossed to give a textured finish ranging from a random linen weave to repeating sculptured reliefs. Because the texture disguises lumps and bumps, they are ideal for use on poor surfaces, on both walls and ceilings. They’re all sold in standard-sized rolls.
They are suitable for areas that need regular wiping, but heavily embossed types will be damaged by heavy wear. The decoration can be changed by a new coat of paint. However, once overpainted, this kind of wallcovering can be hard to strip.
Ingrain or woodchip wallpapers
Ingrain or woodchip wallpapers are plain papers with a textured oatmeal surface made by impregnating the paper pulp with woodchips and sawdust during manufacture. Roll sizes are usually standard, although double-length (20.1 metres/22yd) rolls are made by some manufacturers. They are painted over like the relief papers previously described, and are ideal for use on walls in reasonable condition.
Flock wallcoverings are made by sticking the pile of silk, wool or synthetic fibres to a paper backing so the pile stands out in relief, forming a pattern. Colours are usually limited to tone-on-tone effects, though sometimes two or three colours are used. Ordinary flock papers can be difficult to hang since care must be taken to avoid getting paste on the front, but with vinyl flocks this is no longer a problem. Rolls of all three types are standard-sized.
Paper flocks should only be used on areas which don’t get much wear, condensation or dust but vinyl flocks can be hung almost anywhere as they are tough and washable.
Foil wallcoverings are made by fusing a metallized plastic film onto a paper backing giving a shiny, reflective surface. Rolls are standard-sized.
Because they reflect light they are particularly suitable for use in dark areas or to make small rooms look bigger, but they should not be used on a poor wall surface as they show up every imperfection. Foils stand up to hard wear and are easy to clean, but they must be hung with a fungicidal paste. Because they can conduct, they must not be tucked behind the faceplates of light switches or power points.
Novamura is a unique wallcovering made from foamed polyethylene. It is printed in a wide range of colours, patterns and designs, and comes in standard-sized rolls. Since no paper is used in its manufacture it is very light in weight; it is also easy to hang (by the paste-thewall method, using a fungicidal paste) and to strip.
Novamura is warm to the touch, so it is particularly suitable for use in bathrooms and kitchens where there is a condensation problem. It’s best not to use it on walls which get scuffed easily, since knocks easily damage it.
Vinyl wallcoverings are made by fusing a printed design onto a vinyl layer which is then backed with paper, or occasionally, fabric. This makes a very durable wallcovering, which in most cases can be scrubbed. Rolls are standard-sized, and the range of designs, colours and textures available is very wide.
Vinyls should be hung with a fungicidal paste. Where overlapping is unavoidable, a specialmust be used.
Vinyl wallcoverings are easy to strip — they peel away leaving the paper backing on the wall and can be used as a lining paper for subsequent redecoration.
Embossed relief wallcoverings made from vinyl (such as Vynaglypta) are intended for over-painting and are much easier to strip than ‘white’ wallpapers.
Expanded (blown) vinyl wallcoverings
Expanded (blown) vinyl wallcoverings are thicker than ordinary vinyls and are made by using compressed air to form an expanded plastic foam which is coated onto the base paper. They come in standard-sized rolls.
Many surface effects are available, including tile patterns, simulated cork, wood panelling and grasscloths. They are hung like other vinyls, and a firm heavy-duty rubber roller should be used for smoothing them in position, rather than a paperhanger’s brush. They can be stripped as easily as other vinyls and are especially suitable for use in bathrooms and kitchens or any room where there is a condensation problem.