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Edition 10

On the wall



RUPAL RACH dissects on the ideal and trendier wall surfacing option by responding to the frequently asked questions on wallpaper.

What do I need to know before opting for wallpaper?

There’s always the debate whether to use paints or wall paper on plain walls. In the past paint was always the clear winner more for practical reasons than aesthetics. Today, this is no longer the case. Now, wallpaper comes in high-grade quality and has special weather-resistant features and peeling is just simply next to impossible!

How much do I need?

The first thing you need are accurate measurements of the walls that are to be covered. Use a steel tape measure. Measure the space and round off to the next highest half metre. Measure both the height and length of the wall or walls. Next multiply these two measurements to give you the total number of square metres that your wall is. General wallpapers measure approximately 5 square metres in one roll.

For example;

Your wall: 2.5m (h) X 5m (l) = 12.5 SqM

Size of wallpaper: 10.5 (h) X 0.53m (w) = 5.565 s=SqM

You will need: 12.5/5.565 = 2.2 rolls

Thus you will require 3 rolls as wallpapers do not come in half rolls. Note that the pattern repeat, walls of unusual size or shape, greater than normal wastage during hanging, or other special circumstances can affect the roll-age needs. Your local independent retailer can calculate your exact wall-covering needs based on the pattern you select and your wall or room size.

What is a pattern match?

Wall surfacing 2On all wallpaper, except some textures and murals, there is what is called a pattern repeat. This is the vertical distance between one point on a pattern design to the identical point vertically. This pattern repeat is an integral part of the design. A random match is one in which the pattern matches no matter how adjoining strips are positioned.

Stripes are a good example. A straight-across match is one in which the design elements match on adjoining strips. A drop match is one in which there is a vertical drop between the matching design elements. With straight-across matches, every hung strip is the same as the ceiling line.

With drop matches, the number of strips hung before a strip is repeated is dependent on the type of drop match. Patterns with a significant drop match (24 inches or greater) will require additional wallpaper to be ordered. By giving your measurements to the store in which you buy from, they will be able to give you the exact amount of wallpaper you will require.

Can I hang it myself?

Yes. There are numerous resources available, both on the internet and at hardware stores to aid in self installation. First-time installers should avoid kitchens and bathrooms as these are more complicated. Certain types of wallpaper should only be hung by professionals though and you must match your particular skill level, wallpaper type, and complexity of application to give you a fair indication as to whether it’s time to call for help or not. Most wallpaper stockists such as Design For Living offer wallpaper installation at a small fee.

Wall Surfacing 1Can I hang wallpaper over old paneling, brick, textured walls, etc.?

Absolutely.  Start with good preparation:  remove all nails or other protruding objects. For textured surfaces, “knock down” any high points.  For paneling, now is the time to ensure that the paneling is secure by adding additional nails if needed.  For slick surfaces/paneling, wash with TSP (TriSodium Phosphate) or equivalent grease cutting cleaner.

What should I be thinking about before I order wallpaper?

How good are the walls?  If the walls are perfect, a flat finish wallpaper will be alright, or a silk/shimmer effect. If the walls are less than perfect, then look for a paper with an embossed or expanded surface texture.  For areas that have a lot of use (e.g. hallways), a very plain finish will show marks.  A textured or patterned surface is a little more forgiving.

How much light do you get in the room?  Remember, light colors reflect light, dark colors absorb light, but don’t be frightened of stronger colors, they can be very expressive and add “depth” to a room.  Colors affect your mood, so think about the mood you want to create. Greens are restful, reds are stimulating, yellows are happy, and blues are cooling.  Think about your own color preferences; the colors you select for your clothes. Do you want your home to be tranquil and peaceful, or exciting and vibrant?  Whatever the mood, it should be a reflection of your personality.  Have fun with wallpaper!

Is wallpaper “in”?

The popularity of wallpaper has never been “out” but it has typically gone in waves as other fashion products. The good news is that we are currently in a wallpaper revival period, and it is hotter than ever!

Is there a wallpaper pattern out there that could work in my unique home?

Wall surfacing 3Of course! Design For Living carries thousands of different styles of wallpaper in various color palettes. We have a huge selection that will work in any home from traditional African prints to an English Manor. Probably the most daunting factor is the sheer volume of patterns that are available at any given time.

In the past, your only options would have been to work with an interior designer or thumb through hundreds of wall-covering books. At the moment websites such as provides the easiest way to find that perfect pattern to suit your individual tastes. While on this site just use the IdeaBook tool to create your own and color preferences and you will be able to focus on looking only at patterns that are of interest to you!

How do I remove wallpaper?

The current most common removal method is to use a chemical “enzyme” wallpaper stripping solution. However, these can be hard to come by locally, therefore the best solution is to hold both wallpaper edges from the floor and gently pull upwards. Additionally, soaking the wallpaper with hot water around the seams will quicken the process. If the wallpaper was applied correctly, there should be very little if no wall damage!

Where do I get wall-paper?

Wall surfacing 4Design For Living is among the largest stockiest of wallpaper in the country. They also have local distributors both in Westlands and Mombasa road. Both avenues have free in-house consultants to help you pick a wall-paper that best suits your needs.