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Love wallpaper or Hate wallpaper?

Updated on January 20, 2016
My kitchen wallpaper - blue with sunflowers
My kitchen wallpaper - blue with sunflowers
Decorating against the wallpaper
Decorating against the wallpaper

Articles about wallpaper abound!You can find them in magazines and on the web.(I am talking about home wallpaper, not desktop wallpaper.) Let’s face it, wallpaper has been around since about 4000 B.C.That’s a long time for anything to be around.
The Chinese used papyrus wallpaper in 200 B.C.Louis the XI of France loved his wallpaper, which was basically paintings on paper to hang on the wall.The British, in the 1700’s, started using wallpaper more like what we use today and of course the Americans copied the British and so the evolution of wallpaper continued till the present day .Anyway, we know wallpaper’s been around for a very long time.

There are two schools of thought on wallpaper – those that love it and those that hate it.It can be used to cover up imperfections in a wall or it can just be used just because it looks nice.Personally, I like wallpaper.My husband hates.I think he hates it more because he’s the wallpaper hanger than because of the way it looks.We’ve compromised over the years and had wallpaper in some rooms and not in others.I would not compromise on the kitchen.I love a wallpapered kitchen. It adds a brightness and tone to another wise dull area between cabinets.

The wallpaper in our tv room - notice the tv in the foreground.
The wallpaper in our tv room - notice the tv in the foreground.

There are so many wallpaper colors and styles to choose from its mind boggling.You can buy cheap wallpaper or expensive wallpaper, you can buy coated wallpaper or uncoated wallpaper, you can buy linen wallpaper, cloth wallpaper, and the list goes on.Sometimes I think I’ve had them all.The best thing about wallpaper is it doesn’t have to be replaced often.A fairly decent quality wallpaper will last for years even in a busy room like the kitchen.My current kitchen wallpaper is blue with a sunflower design.It’s only three years old – we replaced my twenty year old wallpaper with this one.

I have to admit, I did get my husband to put up wallpaper in one of his rooms. The tv room is his domain and he wanted it to be rustic. I searched the Internet until I found something I thought he would like. A wallpaper that looks like the inside of a log cabin. It was a bit difficult to put up because the paper runs horizontally rather than vertically but the finished room made it worthwhile. Many people don't realize it's wallpaper! It appears to have texture and depth.

Putting wallpaper up or using the correct term “hanging wallpaper” hasn’t changed much in the last forty or so years, it’s the wallpaper itself that’s changed. When we first started you had to mix wallpaper paste and apply it to the wallpaper before hanging the paper on the wall.It could be tricky.First you needed a table or space long enough to be able to apply the paste to whole sheets of wallpaper and second you had to make sure there were no lumps in the paste you just mixed or maybe I should reverse that order?Either way, those were two important issues.Lumpy paste meant lumpy walls or ripped paper.No place to the lay the paper out to put the paste on also meant ripped paper or not enough glue applied.When applying wallpaper you use a tool that presses the paper against the wall and gets out any air bubbles so the paper sticks to the wall.If you had lumpy paste you could easily rip the paper when you came to a lump. You either love wallpaper or you hate it!

You had to buy brushes and rollers and a pail to mix the paste.Back then kitchen wallpaper was vinyl coated so it was scrubbable.It was great with little kids.I really scrubbed those wall and that paper lasted for over ten years!How often would you paint a kitchen in ten years? My kids laugh at the pattern we had back then.It was a white background with a green open mesh loaded with very large flowers – probably judged hippy looking by today’s standards.The funny thing is that was only two wallpapers ago! You either love wallpaper or you hate it!

Next came pre-pasted wallpaper.This was a very good thing because you didn’t have to worry about lumps.However, you have to run the wallpaper through a water trough then fold it, glue side together, to activate the glue.Keep it folded too long and you might have a problem taking it apart.Don’t keep it folded long enough and the paper might not stick to the wall.It’s a knack you develop rather quickly.

The other ‘problem’ with wallpaper is when the paper has a pattern.If it has a pattern you have to match it which means you’re going to have to waste some paper.Usually it’s a 10, 12 or 14 inch drop meaning the pattern repeats every 10, 12 or 14 inches.Speaking of that did I mention cutting the paper?Forget a scissor and get a really sharp razor and a straight edge to hold against the paper as you cut it.This too can be tricky as even with a sharp razor some wallpapers are difficult to cut especially around outlets or small spaces.

The top layer of wallpaper with the 'paper' underneath.
The top layer of wallpaper with the 'paper' underneath.
After the top layer of wallpaper is removed.
After the top layer of wallpaper is removed.

Before I discuss what happens when you're sick of looking at your wallpaper...when you pick out a wallpaper make sure it is strippable and/or peelable. It makes life a whole lot easier when you want to take it down to change it.

What happens when you don’t want wallpaper anymore and want to paint the walls?There are a myriad of ways to remove wallpaper but if you’re going to paint you need one that will remove everything including the glue, so you have a smooth surface to paint on. Paint looks much better when there’s no added lumps or bumps and after wallpaper’s removed there tends to be little pieces of paper or glue left behind. Many folks use the steam method. You steam the walls until the wallpaper loosens then peel it off. Others scrape it off with large scrapers. There are wallpaper removers on the market but I haven’t had much success with them .I’ve tried all kinds of methods and always wound up putting new wallpaper up because I couldn’t get the walls smooth. Finally my brother-in-law recommended a method that works.Liquid fabric softener. Yes, liquid fabric softener and it doesn’t matter which brand either.Get a big bottle of nice smelling liquid fabric softener and a good size spray bottle .I say nice smelling because you’ll be smelling it for a while .Fill the spray bottle with liquid fabric softener. Peel as much wallpaper off the wall as you can which is usually just the top layer.Then take the spray bottle and spray the remaining wallpaper with liquid fabric softener.Soak it good and let it sit a bit to really soak in.Then take a large scraper (a razor blade scraper is not necessary), scrape the walls and voila, you will have a nice clean, even wall to paint.I know it sounds crazy but I’ve done two rooms now and it really works. It’s messy but effective.It wouldn't hurt to wash the walls down before painting just to be sure the fabric softener and any old adhesive left behind don't interfere with your painting. I am including pictures of the latest room I did so you can see for yourself. (The paint you are looking at isn’t the most even because we roughly spackled before we papered.Since we were putting wallpaper up we didn’t worry about what the spackle would look like.) Another suggestion, if you have a clothing steamer it works great removing wallpaper. It's a little tedious because you have to keep refilling the steamer and it may not work well in very high or very low spots but for the most part it's great.

Good luck and happy de-wallpapering!

Copyright Tillsontitan 2011

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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      The problem is Prairieprincess he doesn't think its funny, just I do ;) As you can see from the comment above you from boughton5, he's not the only one!

      There are so many really lovely patterns today.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Till, I am amazed at how wallpaper has made comeback in recent years. The styles have gotten much prettier. I remember my husband and I looking at house with wallpaper from the 70's and it was LOUD! It is much more subtle nowadays, and I would definitely consider wallpaper, if the room called for it.

      Interesting hub. I laughed when you said that your husband hates wallpaper because of the work that he has to do. Funny! Have a wonderful day.

    • boughton5 profile image

      boughton5 6 years ago from High Falls, New York

      I love wall paper but my hubby hates to help