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Angie's List: Wallpaper is Back in Style

The next time you have a room to re-do in the house, you may want to think about wallpaper instead of paint.

After fading from popularity decades ago, wallpaper is making a comeback.

But it's nothing like what you remember seeing in your grandma's kitchen.

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.

"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," Contractor Jim Stevens said.

Susan Colvin, an interior designer, says if you are looking for an alternative to paint, wallpaper can bring color and texture to any room.

Today's wallpaper is also easier to remove.

"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," Interior Designer Susan Colvin said.

"Wallpaper is making a comeback, but it's not the same wallpaper we have thought of over the years. There is some really neat trends, but one thing hasn't changed and that's wallpaper is a commitment. Putting it up and taking it down can be tricky," Angie Hicks said.

"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," Stevens said.

The most common wallpaper types are vinyl and fabric.

"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," Colvin said.

"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," Hicks said.

Installing wallpaper can cost $10 to $100 or more per roll.

Labor rates - like paper prices - vary widely by the job.

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.

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?

o   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.

o   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?

o   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.

o   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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