Wallpaper has been covering walls for thousands of years beginning with the Chinese who invented paper and glued rice paper onto their walls (brief history of wallpaper). Our homes have changed, and wall coverings have evolved from tapestries to various paper materials and incredible colors and design.
Most people are aware of wallpaper but have little/no experience living with it. They also don't understand what is involved in buying and hanging wallpaper so we asked Jen at Jen Croteau Wallpaper and Painting to share her most frequently asked questions with us, along with answers to help you explore this exciting decorating tool.
Top 10 Wallpaper Frequently Asked Questions
…… by Jen Croteau, Master Wallpaper Installer
If you've got a question we haven't answered here, send us an email and we'll get you an answer.
What are the benefits of wallpaper versus painting?
Wallpaper looks more elegant and is able to provide visual texture in addition to color. While wall coverings may be more expensive than paint, wallpaper patterns can provide decoration that otherwise gets added through pictures and other wall hangings.
How do I figure out how much wallpaper to buy?
You calculate the square footage of the area you want to wallpaper and divide the number by 25. This tells you how many “single rolls” of paper to buy, although most paper is sold in double rolls. Our painting worksheet can help you calculate square footage. Remember however, that wallpaper usually has a pattern which reduces the savings for windows and doors. It is also a good idea to add 10% contingency or more if you will be hanging the paper yourself.
How much might I spend to wallpaper a 12 by 12 ft room?
The cost of wallpaper varies significantly, from $20 per roll up to $150 per roll or more. Like paint, you should realize that paper isn't the only cost so spend according to the quality you want for the finished project. Here's a quick summary of what's involved and rough time and/or cost for a 12 by 12 ft room:
- Time to select paper, measure room, order and pick up wallpaper – 2 to 4 hrs
- Time to prepare walls for new wallpaper – may involve one/more of the following:
- Move furniture – 1 to 2 hrs; times 2 for returning furniture when done
- Remove old wallpaper & get all glue off – 3 to 4 hrs for wallpaper that comes off easily (for difficult paper, this could easily be 2 to 4 times as much time)
- Prepare walls (fill cracks, holes and sand lightly) – 1 to 2 hrs for minor repairs
- Apply sizing to walls – 1 to 2 hrs
- Hang wallpaper – a homeowner might need 8 to 12 hrs, while a professional would complete the job in 3 to 5 hrs for a paper with a simple (easy to match at seams) pattern.
Is it less expensive to buy wallpaper directly from the store versus ordering from wallpaper books?
In-stock wallpaper does not mean that it is lower quality and it might be less expensive as the store may have received a volume purchase discount. Higher priced paper usually means a higher quality paper that should be easier to hang and more durable when exposed to normal wear and tear.
Why do I have to strip the old wallpaper and how is this done?
The quality of new wallpaper is based on wall preparation, quality paper and professional hanging. Unless you remove old wallpaper, it is not possible to guarantee the results. Solid sheet vinyl peels fairly easily and paper backed vinyl requires a 2 step process. First you peel off the front, vinyl layer and then you soak the paper backing with a hot water and vinegar mix to soften the paper backing so it is easy to scrape off. Some of the newer wallpaper materials require the use of enzymes. Stripping Wallpaper – Now it is Easy! from Ask the Builder is a good place to research this further.
How do I prepare the walls?
All holes, nail pops and visible seams should be corrected in preparation for wallpapering over them. They should be filled with spackle, let dry and lightly sanded to create a smooth, flat surface. It is also important to sand down the surface where there are any bumps and more important, residue from old wallpaper. You need a smooth surface under the paper, to have a smooth surface after the wallpaper is applied.
What role does sizing play in hanging wallpaper?
Sizing is like paint primer that helps the wallpaper adheres to the wall. It should be used even when wallpaper comes pre-pasted to insure adequate adhesion. There are different types of wallpaper adhesives to address the unique requirements of various wallpapers. The most common adhesive or sizing for do-it-yourself (DIYs) is premixed vinyl. If you decide to use a wall covering that requires a different adhesive, you should consider using a professional paper hanger.
How do I prepare old, horse hair plaster walls for wallpaper?
Horse hair plaster walls should first have a coat of latex primer applied to help identify all flaws in the walls. Then the walls should be patched and finally a coat of sizing should be used for hanging the wallpaper.
What type of wallpaper should I use in my bathroom?
A vinyl coated or single sheet vinyl wallpaper offers the best solution for washability and moisture resistance.
Can I put stripes in my crooked room?
Stripes are not recommended for crooked walls as the stripes would emphasize the flaws in the walls. If you really want to use stripes, you should use wide stripes to lessen the exposure.
Jen Croteau is the owner of Jen Croteau Wallpapering and Painting, and was a member of 4 Walls 1 Roof. She loves to hang all kinds of wallpaper and is comfortable with all aspects of the job, from removing old paper to preparing the walls.