Wonder walls

Forget the peeling, fading floral walls of yore; wallpaper is back in a big way. With technological advancements that make it more durable and easier to apply and remove, plus a huge range of new designs, it’s little wonder.

Marius van der Bank, General Manager at Wall Design, attributes the wallpaper revival to a number of factors. “There is now far more variety than there was previously,” he says. “Developments in technology also mean that the new wallpapers are textured and layered. They are not flat, like they used to be.”

He adds that today’s wallpapers are also quick and easy to install, as well as being easy to clean and remove. “Unlike paint, there’s no covering of cornices, spills, mess, toxic fumes or need for multiple coats. You can wallpaper a room in a quarter of the time. Even if you used a paint effect, paint can’t give you the same 3D textural look that wallpaper can. It’s also not that expensive – if, after a few years, you decide you want a different look, wallpaper is easy to replace.”

The new wallpaper rolls are also much better suited to DIY. “They come with instructions on how to hang them, what types of glue to use and how to ensure the pattern matches up,” says Marius. “If you’re unsure, however, we recommend finding an experienced contractor to ensure the job is done well.”

Things you should consider when choosing wallpaper for your home

Obviously you should choose wallpaper that suits your home and your personal style, but there are other things to think about too. Pick a product that is washable and, if you’re installing it yourself, ensure you read and understand the instructions beforehand.

Also think beyond the typical wallpaper applications. Marius notes that many people only consider using wallpaper for a feature wall – one wall in the entrance hall, behind their bed or in the lounge.
“If you take a look through the wallpaper catalogues, you’ll see that the bold, patterned papers are matched with complementary plainer papers,” he says. “Wallpaper is practical for almost any area. Instead of painting all your walls, consider a textured wallpaper in the colour of your choice.”

Don’t, however, use paper-backed wallpaper
in kitchens or bathrooms. “The wallpaper glue is water-based, so when it comes into contact with steam it starts to come away from the wall,” explains Marius. “You can use wallpaper for a guest loo, where there’s no steam, but not in a bathroom with a shower or bath – or in the kitchen. Also choose a stronger wallpaper for higher traffic areas, such as hallways and commercial applications.”

When you’re selecting wallpaper, Marius advises looking through catalogues, either at a wallpaper stockist (which gives you the benefit of assessing the texture), or online. Once you have an idea of what you like, you can request a sample.

Ensure that when you’ve installed the paper, you have a few bits left over. “In the industry, we call this ‘attic stock’. You put it in the attic and forget about it, but if you get a stain on your wallpaper that you can’t clean off, or damage an area, you can replace the piece with your extra paper.”

It’s important to have this attic stock from the same batch as the original, to ensure there are no colour differences. Marius says there’s no hard-and-fast rule as to how much you should keep tucked away for the proverbial rainy day. “Normally the leftover pieces, or roll from your installation, are more than enough,” he advises.

What’s on offer?

With over 6 000 design options available from Wall Design alone, Marius says the range of wallpapers available today is astounding. From contemporary collections – such as Layers by Edward van Vliet, to more feminine floral looks like Fleurie which are themed around magnolia colours and blossoms – there is something for every taste.

Marius says new designer collections will be launched on the Wall Design website this year, while new products are constantly being added. For example, Novelio® Design is a paintable, durable and textured woven fibreglass wallpaper. An Italian-designed product, it is now locally available. It boasts CleanAir technology that removes VOCs from the air, meaning it is hygienic and useful for applications ranging from children’s rooms to hospital waiting areas.

“When you paint it, because of the texture and certain areas of the pattern absorbing more paint than others, you get a two-tone finish,” explains Marius. “It also only needs one coat of paint. If you want to change the colour, you can simply paint over it again – several times over many years, if necessary”

He notes that current trends include grey wallpapers (of every shade; probably more than 50!), pops of very bright colour as a design feature, and contemporary patterned papers.

Wallpaper DIY tips


Which glue?

Kendall Perry, Group Marketing Manager at Genkem, notes that wallpapers are available in
a range of qualities, from simple printed paper to varnished prints, paper-backed plastic or full plastic wallpapers.

“Different adhesives will be used depending on the grade of wallpaper,” she explains. “Paper-backed wallpapers will generally be hung using a starch or modified starch adhesive, which is readily resoluble in water. Heavier duty wallpapers may be hung using emulsion modified adhesives, which have much better water resistance.”

Removing old wallpaper

To remove old wallpaper before applying new paper, use a product such as Genkem Wallpaper Stripper. This will soften and re-dissolve the wallpaper adhesives to allow for easy removal of the wallpaper and the remaining adhesive. Follow the instructions on the product.

If you think you may want to remove the wallpaper  you’re installing at some point in the future, consider using a dry, strippable wall covering as this makes removal much easier. “The product does not require a stripper or water, because of the backing being a non-woven fabric that easily peels away from the wall when pulled,” notes Marius.

Cleaning wallpaper

“As paper wallpapers are permeable to water, cleaning with water can be detrimental,” warns Kendall. “It may cause the adhesive to re-dissolve and peel away from the surface. To remove dust, rather wipe the wallpaper with a dry microfibre cloth. It is important to follow cleaning instructions issued by the manufacturer. These will often be available on the manufacturer’s website.

Coated or plasticised papers are more robust and can generally be wiped down with a cloth dipped in warm soapy water, providing it has been well wrung out. Some products can even be scrubbed with a soft bristle brush.

Be aware that solvent cleaners are generally not suitable for wallpaper.

Prepping walls for wallpapering

Marius advises that any dampness or water leakage issues need to be resolved before you consider applying wallpaper.

Kendall adds that you need a clean, dry and sound surface. “Painted surfaces must be free from any grease, oils or fats. These should be removed by washing well with a solution of Genkem Sugar Soap. Loose, flaking or peeling paint should also be removed and, if necessary, the surface repainted. Glossy surfaces must be lightly sanded and excess dust removed. Unpainted concrete walls should be left to fully cure for at least six weeks and then primed to prevent excessive penetration of the wallpaper adhesive. Surfaces must be completely dry before application.”

Get in touch

Wall Design: www.walldesign.co.za, (011) 704-9780, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.