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All trends come back around and the increased use of wallpaper is just one of the great pleasures we designers have back at our fingertips! The patterns and colors today are quite vibrant with an increase in textural nuances to enhance your tactile and visual experiences.  But installing wallpaper is a whole different level of knowledge over rolling out paint. So, I thought you may like a few tips on how best to select the correct paper for your environment, understand how wallpaper is sold, discuss any prep work needed, and understand how to line up the pattern for installation. Let’s get started!

Wallpaper Specifications

Tessuto in Neutral

(Above: Mombasa Navy)

Before you fall in love with a pattern, be sure to evaluate the room you’re installing the wallpaper in. Is there high moisture such as a bathroom? If so, be sure to use a vinyl or paper option over a grass or fabric one. You see, natural fibers on the surface of the paper will absorb the moisture from your shower and slowly wreak havoc on all your hard work. However, don’t get this mixed up with vinyl wallpaper backed with fabric, which is excellent in moist or high traffic areas, including kid tough play spaces. Vinyl wallpaper is excellent for homes with small children who just LOVE to use Mama’s walls as their painting palette! For instance, check out this fun option…the Thibaut Evia Vinyl wallpaper in Mineral and White which is washable AND scrubbable! Bring on the mess kids…Mama isn’t going to get upset anymore when her pretty wallpaper has marker streaks, playdough or dirty fingerprints about!!   

In fact, vinyl wallpapers are rated for durability.  Type I being considered light-duty, type II is more medium-duty (most often purchased for high-traffic/kid areas and easily scrubbed clean, like the Evia) and Type III (mostly specified for commercial projects) is referred to as heavy-duty. However, all wallpapers are rated for fire against ignition and flame spread. Class A is the highest rated, followed by B and C. One last detail to note is the available width. A typical wallpaper is sold at 20.5” or 27” wide, but many manufacturers sell vinyl at 54” wide which is heavy, making it harder to install. If you happened to fall in love with a wide width vinyl, it may be best to call in a pro.  However, some wallpaper manufacturers have heard the cries of the DIYers and now produce vinyl wallpaper in 27” widths. All this information is available on the back of each wallpaper sample in the books available at your favorite wallpaper source, which includes CMC Design Studio LLC! Examine the following wallpaper back so you know what to look for in the future… 

Take a look at some of these other spectacular Thibaut Wallpaper options just wishing they could dress up your next project!! Let’s start with a paper option…I recently used Mombasa Navy in this guest bedroom as an accent wall. With washable properties, this wallpaper has created a welcoming backdrop to nautical roman shades and a nubuck custom headboard. Looking for something with a bit of sophistication? Take a look at Tessuto in Neutral. This particular selection is a linen mesh grass cloth. I installed it in a half bath which has very little moisture. It gave this small room volume, drawing your eye up and around, finishing at a wall of tile just behind the vessel sink. I love small baths with a dramatic wallpaper, don’t you? And lastly, look at how Villa Garden Texture in Natural colorway adds texture to this entryway without being too bossy! This too is a linen mesh grass cloth and installs seamlessly to create a sensational entry, inviting you to come relax and enjoy the lake! 

Before I go on, here’s a quick note on purchasing wallpaper…
it’s quoted “per roll” BUT sold as a “double roll.” I know, confusing…Simply put, when you see the cost of one roll, always double it. And remember, you can’t order just one roll, it’s always sold in multiples of 2…even though the order comes as one bolt. My head spins at this but that’s why I call my favorite wallpaper installer to handle all the math! 

Now that you have your wallpaper chosen, let’s discuss any prep work needed to be sure your room is finished to perfection! For this expert advice, yup…I asked my installer, Caleb LaRue of Caleb LaRue Interior Finishes for some input. For starters, he recommends that, “All holes and bulged surfaces in the wall should be repaired as if painting.”  Don’t be misdirected into thinking that the wallpaper will hide wall errors…it will only accentuate them! In bathrooms or near kitchen sinks, be sure that any areas with prior water damage have been fixed first, especially with a vinyl wallcovering which will not allow the wall the breath once covered. 

Random Or Free Match

Reverse Hang

Drop Or Offset Match

Straight Match

Now the tough part, lining up patterns. From my own experience years ago as a new homeowner, don’t assume you can simply cut an appropriate length of wallpaper and it will line up... no, no, no! Look again at the wallpaper specifications noted above which indicates the type of “match” for each wallpaper. The first is a Random Match…the easiest to install as you can line up the wallpaper however you’d like and it won’t affect the outcome, such as a vertical stripe. 

The second is Reverse Hang or Alternate Match…This type of installation is most often used for lightly textured wallpaper, not wallpaper with a pattern. Basically, every other strip is reversed in direction to minimize slight color differences. 

(Above: Drop or Offset Match)

The last is a Straight Match…a bit more complicated and requires more attention to detail as the pattern must match up exactly with the next strip. There are two classes of “Straight Match”…beginning with Half Drop Match, which is the easier of the two. A good example of this is a diamond pattern where you need to adjust the alternating wallpaper so the diamond halves fall into alignment with one another. An easy way to determine this is to fold your wallpaper up and let the straight line intersect your pattern midway. If the most right and most left fall in the same place on the edge, it’s a half drop. The other is a Multiple Drop Match or also known as Offset Match and the most difficult and time consuming as it takes three or more strips to get the full pattern. A good example of this is a paisley! This is probably one of those options that is best left to the professional…Oh Caleb!

If you do attempt it yourself, Caleb’s advice is to “Get off your ladder and step back paying close attention to the match top to bottom with each strip installation.” He even joked that “In bathrooms, it’s best to sit on the toilet as this is the primary view of the room! And don’t forget to look at the opposite wall from the mirror!” His final notes for a good installation is to always cut an additional 2” top and bottom to ensure you have options for trimming into place. Also, he recommends, “Use a break off utility knife to keep your cutting edge sharp and a metal guide for best results!”

Do you feel more confident? Great! Be sure to shop for your next wallpaper project with a local source here in Saratoga! There are so many options with texture, color prints and geometrics. Apply wallpaper to an entire room or just an accent wall! You can even use it to create depth on the back of a bookshelf or the rear of a glass fronted cabinet! Get creative and start hanging!

Until next time my friends,