Quick and Dirty Guide to Choosing the Perfect Wallpaper

Choosing the Perfect Wallpaper
Choosing the Perfect Wallpaper

I recently had the opportunity to hang this bold and beautiful floral print in a bathroom for one of my clients. The result was dramatic. Along the way, I learned a thing or two about choosing wallpaper and I’m here to share.

Choosing wallpaper isn’t rocket science. However, besides cost, there are other major factors to consider when making your final choice. Here is a quick and dirty guide to choosing the right wallpaper for your home plus some of my favorite wallpaper resources.

But first…Why no DIY tips here? I always recommend hiring a professional to install permanent wallpaper. The scope of this blog post does not factor in the trend of removable wallpaper, which may soon be a blog post in and of itself.

Good to Know

Sizing Wallpaper rolls come in two types of sizes, “American” and “European”; Double and Single Rolls. Your installer will need to make the final calculation for how much wallpaper to buy, but for getting started, it’s helpful to know how it is sized.

American vs. European = Width American is typically 27” wide European is typically 21.5” wide

Single Vs. Double. = Length A double roll will usually be two single rolls packaged into one double roll.

Repeats The “Repeat” is how often the pattern starts over. A larger repeat (think big patterns) may require more paper. No repeat such as the "Circus" print below, is considered a mural paper. 

Figs
Figs

Specialty Paper Residential wallpapers come in a variety of types. Some specialty papers may require special knowledge by the wallpaper hanger and may also cost more in labor costs to hang. Despite that, these gorgeous papers deliver an elegance and richness you just don’t find in everyday rolled goods.Here are a few of my favorite.

Grasscloth - The term grasscloth describes an array of natural woven wallpapers. They may be made of hemp, seagrass, bamboo, jute or abaca just to name a few. Do not be fooled by the name. You can find grasscloth papers in wildly vibrant colors.

"Manila Hemp" by Phillip Jefferies
"Manila Hemp" by Phillip Jefferies

Flock Paper - This wallpaper provides a velvety textured finish. Part of the design is covered with adhesive, then fibers to create high contrast to the background. Its best to experience the paper in person by ordering samples. Photography just can’t capture the richness of the texture.

"Funky Flock Retro Velvet" by Lawrence Laurito
"Funky Flock Retro Velvet" by Lawrence Laurito

Metallics - Metallics provide a bit of sparkle to a room by using an embossing process to incorporate a metal sheen to the surface. These papers should be used on perfectly smooth walls.

Betta by Jill Malek
Betta by Jill Malek

Pasted vs. Unpasted Papers either come pre-pasted or unpasted. Pre-pasted paper comes with a dry coat of paste on the back which requires the paper be soaked in water, booked, and applied to the wall. Unpasted requires the paste to be applied (usually) to the wall first.

Trimmed Vs. Untrimmed.Some papers come untrimmed. You can think of this as the selvage you find on fabric. The long edges will need to be trimmed in the field by your installer and may add labor costs.

UNtrimmed Paper
UNtrimmed Paper

My Advice

  1. Rethink the location - Wallpaper can make a big impact in a small space. If you're trying to save money, consider applying it in a powder room, entryway, closet or the ceiling!
  2. Go Big - Don’t hesitate to use a large scale graphic in a small space. The result can be dramatic.
  3. Hire a Pro - Seriously people. There is a fine craft that goes into hanging permanent wallpaper, including the work to prep the surface. This job is best left to a pro.
  4. Order Samples - Do yourself a favor and order samples before you commit. The scale, color, and texture are better represented in person.
  5. Wet Areas - Wallpaper isn't off limits in wet areas but you should select a vinyl-coated or Solid Vinyl wallcovering for kitchens and baths.

My Favorite Wallpaper Resources

Wallpaper Hanger Jodi Stoehrmann (20+ years of experience, Member of WIA) Jodi’s Painting and Wallcoverings Denver/Boulder 703.244.3429 jodi@jodipainting.com

Wallpaper Dealer Covered Wallpaper (SERIOUSLY helpful cool staff and amazing selection. Go. To. Them.) www.coveredwallpaper.com 466 Santa Fe Drive Denver, CO 80204 303.455.2372

Here I am in their showroom DYING over beautiful wallpaper.
Here I am in their showroom DYING over beautiful wallpaper.