Wallpaper – Paste it Up

Wallpaper is a material that we use to cover and decorate the interior walls of homes, offices and other buildings. Wallpaper is sold in rolls and is put onto walls with wallpaper paste. Wallpaper began as an inexpensive substitute for paneling and tapestries.

Paper was invented in ancient China. They use to glue rice paper to their walls. A court official of the Chinese invented paper from rags. By the 10th century Arabs used wood and bamboo to create thin sheets of paper. During the 12th century Europeans commissioned artists to paint paper for their walls. In 1675 a French engraver made block designs on the wallpaper and this was very much like the wallpaper of today.

Wallpaper finally came to America in 1739. Right after the revolutionary war it was all the fashion. Everyone wanted it in their homes. In 1839 a 4 color wallpaper printing machine was invented and by 1874 there was a 12 color wallpaper printing machine in use. In 1888 the first ready to use wallpaper paste was invented. Pasting machines were not developed until the 20th century.

If you lived in the ’20s you were sure to have one room of your house that had wallpaper. Over 400 million rolls were sold during that time. Soon after, people started to frown on embellishments. Wallpaper fell to disfavor for a time for its lavish effects and cost.

Wallpaper has had its ups and downs but after World War Two it picked up in popularity. This happened because of wall coverings that were available were easy to maintain and affordable. This new wallpaper had structural integrity as opposed to the older flimsy kind.

There is a large variety to choose from. There is wallpaper that comes plain, that you can paint your own design or others that have patterned graphics. Some printing techniques include surface, gravure, screen and rotary. You can also purchase pre-pasted paper that is easy to hang. Begin choosing your wallpaper by considering the space you are decorating and the type of surface you will be covering. Make certain you measure to ensure you will complete your project. When in doubt always order more then you will need.

I had my own experience with wallpaper. In the 1980’s I purchased wallpaper that had a twist. It was wallpaper that you could write on. I hung this in my bathroom and it had a special pen that was attached. Who ever visited me got to write a special message or saying. Don’t worry because it was also washable and believe me I had to wash it away quite a lot!

Here is a list of some of the different styles that are offered and a brief review of its character. The most popular is vinyl for its durability and easy upkeep. Another choice is fabric backed vinyl. This is usually unpasted but washable and moisture resistant. The next option is paper backed vinyl. It is prepasted and light weight. It creates a three dimensional effect and it works best on rough surfaces. Next there are textiles. These are made of cotton, linen and polyester. They are bonded to a paper backing. These come in many colors and textures and range from casual to elegant. Hand screened wallpaper is vividly colorful and expensive. It also needs a professional to hang and is high maintenance. Last but not least there are flocks and foils. They are also hard to hang and can wrinkle easily. They look like damask or cut velvet and must be hung on a perfectly smooth wall for its true effects.

So by now you must be searching through the many wallpaper catalogues, but do not get discouraged. I am certain you will find the one that brings out the best for your decor.