Angie's List | Wallpaper is back in style

Wallpaper has made a comeback during the past two years, according to interior design experts. An alternative to paint, wallpaper can bring color and texture to any room. Recent trends include wallpaper with repeat patterns, vibrant colors and pictures, whereas past trends favored natural colors and textures. Today’s wallpaper is also easier to remove.

Hanging wallpaper is a great way to brighten up or change the feel of a room without spending the money of a major renovation. It can bring in color, texture or provide a unique feel to any room.

Homeowners who strip wallpaper left over from the 1980s might replace the paper with something more contemporary, such as wallpaper that reflects their personality.

It can be a nightmare to remove and even more difficult to apply. That’s why many homeowners turn to an expert when dealing with wallpaper.

Contractor Jim Stevens is hanging new wallpaper in a client’s home – he had to remove the old paper and prep the walls.

Jim says, “Well she stripped some of the outer coating on the bare drywall which is a problem. The wallpaper was hung over a bare drywall and that’s something you never want to do. Even sizing won’t keep that wallpaper from tearing that paper off the drywall when you go to strip it.”

Susan Colvin, an interior designer, says if you are looking for an alternative to paint, wallpaper can bring color and texture to any room. And some of today’s wallpaper is also easier to remove.

Susan says, “You can get pattern, multiple colors, and so there’s a lot of style in wallpaper and you can express some individuality that you’re not necessarily doing just with paint.”

Jim explains, “Sometimes you can peel off a whole sheet. Sometimes you get small pieces and in that case you have to puncture that service. There’s a product tool called a paper tiger – it’s got little spikes on the end that you roll around. If you press too hard you puncture the paint underneath the wallpaper.”

“If you don’t like tedious stuff, you want to stay out of the stripping business. Hanging wallpaper is a tedious process too. A lot of times you get what you pay for. A professional will put it up right and take it off right too," Jim advises.

Susan tells us, “They do have some that are easier to remove. And that was one concern that people had over the years. As they put wallpaper up and they love it and then when they get tired of it, it’s sometimes hard to get off the wall if it’s not installed properly.”

The most common wallpaper types are vinyl and fabric.

Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated service providers about your wallpapering options.

Most common wallpaper types:

  • Vinyl: This is the most commonly used type of wallpaper as it is versatile and can be used in any room. It also comes in mildew-resistant varieties to protect your home. Vinyl is the easiest type of wallpaper to apply and clean.
  • Fabric: Fabric wallpaper is typically attached to vinyl wallpaper to help it adhere to the wall. While the look of fabric can be desirable, it often attracts dirt and dust and can be difficult to clean.

“A lot of wallpaper is made with vinyl coatings, to make it easier to clean. Not all wallpapers are that way, but a lot of wallpaper you can actually wash down fairly well. So there are a little easier to maintain than perhaps some paint," Susan elaborates.

Jim says, “I’m doing a lot of stripping and then painting again. However, having said that the wallpaper is coming back. I’m wallpapering more now than I have in the last four or five years. Used to be all I did was wallpaper. Now I’m doing both. I’ve hung more grass cloth in the last couple of years than I had in the previous ten so that has made a huge comeback.”

Angie’s List Tips: Hanging Wallpaper

  • What should I consider before selecting wallpaper? Look, lifestyle and room size all factor into selecting a type or style of wallpaper. Grass cloth paper provides a classic touch, but if your child plays Picasso on the wall, there’s no washing it off. Consider vinyl-coated wallpaper with kids and in well-worn areas. Pay attention to print size as well. If you’re not planning on staying in your home for several years, pick a neutral wallpaper color.
  • DIY or hire a contractor?
  • Installation: Homeowners should consider hiring a skilled craftsperson to apply wallpaper for the best outcome. Check references before hiring a wallpaper company, as well as check to make sure the company is insured. That way, if the company does damage a wall, their insurance will cover the damages.
  • Removal: There are tools homeowners can use, but stripping is a tedious job. A professional can save time and energy by completely removing the paper and paste with non-toxic chemicals, skimming the walls, which involves filling holes and repairing chips and dents – sanding, and then any adding any needed touchups so the wall is ready to prime or paint. 
  • What will it cost me?
  • Installation:
    • Wallpaper can cost $10 to $100 or more per roll, depending on styles and the manufacturer. To determine how much you’ll need, experts advise getting a professional measurement that accounts for breaks in the wall, such as a window or stairwell. Labor rates — like paper prices — vary widely by the job.
    • Removal: Pricing is typically based on labor and materials, but an average room can be done for around a couple of hundred dollars.

    “Take it from me, taking down wallpaper is not the easiest task in the world. After an entire weekend of removing wallpaper in a kitchen I have to admit I really wish I would have hired to have it done," Angie discloses.

    Wallpaper installation can cost $10 to $100 or more per roll. Labor rates — like paper prices — vary widely by the job.

    For wallpaper removal, pricing is typically based on labor and materials, but an average room can be done for around a couple of hundred dollars.

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