Things to look for when choosing wallpaper

Obviously the main thing you will look for when choosing wallpaper is the pattern and colour, however these are personal to you and here we are going to look at the technical things to look for. Various standard symbols are used on the packaging of wallpapers to signify the various features, these are outlined below.

The first thing to consider is probably where you are going to hang it. Kitchens and bathrooms need a vinyl wallpaper as these can be cleaned and won't be affected by the humidity. Four degrees of cleaning are indicated on rolls of wallpaper as follows:

Spongeable wall paper Spongeable washable wallpaper Washable
extra washable wall paper Extra Washable scrubable wallpaper Scrubable

If the roll does not have one of these symbols, and is not marked in any other way, you shouldn't think that you can clean it.

If the room you are papering has full sun for any part of the day, the next symbols indicate the paper's resistant to fading:

Good colour fastness Good colour fastness (resistant to fading in daylight)moderate colour fastness Moderate colour fastness

There are three ways that the adhesive can be applied when paper hanging - paste the paper, paste the wall or the paper is ready pasted. These are indicated by the following:

Paste to the wall paper Paste the paper Paste the wall Paste the wall
Pre pasted wallpaper Pre pasted paper    

Paste the paper (or unpasted wallpapers) is the traditional method of applying adhesive when hanging wallpaper and most wallpapers are of this type. Suitable adhesive needs to purchased separately, normally mixed and brushed on the 'back' of the wallpaper. Always buy the adhesive after you have bought the wallpaper and check that it is suitable - the type of wallpaper will determine the strength of adhesive required, so read the packet.

Paste the wall papers are still few, but some materials require this process.

Pre-pasted (aka ready-pasted) wallpaper should, in theory anyway, make hanging wallpaper easier. As the symbol above may show, the paper is laid in a trough of water for a period of time immediately before hang it, this activate the paste already on the back of the paper.

Details of matching patterns on the wallpaper are indicated by the following symbols:

No vertical offset No vertical offset in pattern Vertical pattern repeat distance Vertical pattern repeat distance
Vertical pattern offset distance Vertical pattern offset distance   
Direction for hanging Direction for hanging Reverse alternate lengths Reverse alternate lengths

The vertical offset of the pattern determines how much waste you are likely to get when you match up a pattern.

Generally when buying wallpaper, you don't worry too much about how you are going to remove it when you want to replace it. The three final symbols give this information.

Strippable wallpaper Strippable Wet strippable wall paper Wet strippable
Peelable wallpaper Peelable - often vinyl paper leaving backing paper on wall   
Strippable means that it can be removed from the surface just by pulling. Wet strippable means you need to wet it then use a scraper to remove it. Peelable means that the top paper can be removed leaving the backing paper.