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How to choose your wallpaper?

Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

22 guides

Whether you’re after simplex, vinyl or non-woven, finding a wallpaper can be tricky. To start, you have to consider the wallpaper’s application and care needs, and its resistance to stains and fading. Only once you’ve figured out all that should you pick a colour or pattern. Read on for more wallpaper essentials!

Important features

  • Washable
  • Light resistance
  • Pattern repeat
  • Paper-based wall paper
  • Application

Choosing a wallpaper based on room type


Room of the house Type of wallpaper 
Living room Washable paper
Entrance and hallway Washable paper
Bathroom  Moisture-resistant paper
Bedroom or office Any type (though resistant, washable wallpaper should be used for a child's room)
Kitchen Stain and moisture resistant paper

When selecting a wallpaper, you should take the following characteristics into account:  

  • The wallpaper material;
  • The application method;
  • The wallpaper's resistance to moisture and fading.

The different types of wallpaper

Paper-based wallpaper

Paper-based wallpapers consist of one or several layers of paper and fall into three categories:

  • Simplex wallpaper is made of a single layer of paper;
  • Duplex wallpaper is composed of two layers of paper and is therefore stronger;
  • Vinyl features a higher weight per square metre (m²) making it more durable. It is also easier to maintain.

 

Non-woven wallpaper

Non-woven wallpaper is composed of textile fibres and comes in two different types:

  • Vinyl-based non-woven;
  • Paper-based non-woven: the easier of the two to hang as the wallpaper paste is applied directly to the wall.


Paintable wallpaper

Paintable wallpaper allows you the option of applying the paint of your choice over the wallpaper once hanging is complete. This type of wallpaper is not to be confused with glass-fibre wall coverings which offer greater resistance but also usually feature pre-printed patterns. Self-adhesive wallpapers are also readily available and are especially suitable for bordersdecorative stickers and magnetic wallpaper.

Wallpaper symbols explained

Spongeable before application

Small stains can be cleaned off with a damp sponge but only before hanging.

Spongeable

Fresh paste marks can be dabbed off with a damp sponge.
  Washable

Light stains can be removed with a damp sponge at any time.
Extra washable

All marks (excluding oil or grease stains) can be removed using slightly soapy water and a sponge.
Scrubbable

Water-based stains can be removed using slightly soapy water or a mild cleaning product and a sponge or soft bristle brush.
Extra scrubbable

Water-based stains can be removed using slightly soapy water or a mild cleaning product and a sponge or soft bristle brush.

Light fastness (resistance to fading by light exposure)

Moderate resistance to light. Moderate light fastness
Satisfactory resistance to light Satisfactory light fastness
Good resistance to light Good light fastness
Very good resistance to light Very good light fastness
Excellent resistance to light Excellent light fastness

Pattern matching

Free match

It is not necessary to consider the pattern when hanging.
Straight match

The same patterns are matched across the width of each wallpaper strip. Pattern repeats are given in centimetres, e.g. 50 cm.
Offset match

Every second strip must be dropped by half the height of the pattern repeat. The pattern repeat is given alongside the drop at which the match is achieved from left to right (e.g. 50/25 cm).
Reverse alternate lengths

Every second strip of wallpaper should be reversed.

Application Methods 

Pre-pasted

The back of the wallpaper is pre-coated with an adhesive which activates when immersed in water.
Paste the wall

A strong glue or adhesive paste should be applied directly to the wall rather than to the wallpaper.
Paste the product

The adhesive is applied directly to the wall covering.

Removal method


Peelable

The top layer of the wallpaper can be peeled off when dry. The bottom layer stays on the wall as a bottom layer (acts as a backing).
Strippable

The entire length of wallpaper can be removed from the wall.
Wet removeable

This type of wallpaper must first be thoroughly wetted before it is removed using a scraper.

Other symbols 


Double cut Double cut

Symbol used for thick, free match wallpaper. Each new strip must overlap the last by 5 to 8 cm. The two strips are cut where they overlap using a utility knife.

Impact resistance Impact resistant

This symbol refers to a special, highly resistant coating with a hard but flexible surface.

Duplex Embossed

High-quality embossed wallpaper consisting of two layers of laminated paper which remains very stable during application.

Calculating how many rolls of wallpaper you need

How many rolls of free match wallpaper do I need?

1. Firstly, determine the number of strips you require by dividing the combined width of the walls you want to cover by the width of a roll of wallpaper.
2. Then work out how many strips you can get out of a roll. To calculate this,divide the length of the rollby the height of the wall.
3. Find out how many rolls you require overall by dividing the total number of strips (step 1) by the number of strips per roll (step 2).
 

How many rolls of offset wallpaper do I need?

  1. Firstly, determine the number of strips you require by dividing the combined width of the walls you want to cover by the width of a roll of wallpaper.
  2. Then work out how many strips you can get out of a roll. To calculate this, divide the length of the roll by the height of the wall. In this case, however, you will have to add the pattern repeat (noted on the packaging) and an additional 6 cm (for levelling) into the equation.
  3. Find out how many rolls you require overall by dividing the total number of strips (step 1) by the number of strips per roll (step 2).

Wallpaper designs: expectations vs. reality


With an ever-increasing selection of wallpaper on offer, you might find yourself tempted to spruce up a wall or two. However, it is important to remember that wallpaper may look very different on the wall than it did on the roll.

Once you’ve taken care of the technical side of things, there are still some basic guidelines to follow when choosing a wallpaper design.

Just like with paint, light colours or relatively small patterns will give the impression of a bigger room. Dark colours and large patterns, on the other hand, can make a room seem smaller. Large patterns should be used alongside solid colours to stop the design taking over your room. Striped patterns can also lead to different effects; vertical stripes can make your ceilings appear higher while horizontal stripes will give the impression of a wider room.

It is also possible to use wallpaper to decorate just one section of a wall. You can recreate a piece of contemporary art, showcase a scenic wall mural or add in a border with your child’s favourite cartoon characters.

With the decision-making part out of the way, it’s easy enough to hang the wallpaper yourself as long as you are armed with the proper wallpapering tools, a bit of know-how and a lot of patience!
 

More information

The right wallpaper, paint or decorative element can brighten up any room. To get more info and ideas for your home improvement projects, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:


Be sure to have the right equipment on hand with our tool guides:

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Guide written by:

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester 22 guides écrits

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

After years of DIY, renovation, designing, I decided to turn my passion into my career.

Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or contruction projects. My expertise and my curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients.

Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives!

My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is thus a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!  

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