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Types of Wallpapers

There are a number of different types of wallpaper available, these give different types of surface finish and range in price from under £1 to many hundreds of pounds per roll. Understanding the different types of wall paper will help you choose the correct one for your needs.

Lining Paper.
This isn't a finishing wallpaper as it does not give a decorative finish, lining paper is applied to bare walls or ceilings in preparation for painting or papering with decorative wallpaper. The purpose of lining paper generally used to:
  • To cover minor imperfections on a surface before painting it.
    or
  • Hide a strong colour previously applied to walls or ceilings before a lighter colour wallpaper or paint is to be applied.
When the lining paper is to be covered by wallpaper, the general rule is to hang the lining paper in the opposite direction to the top paper.
Woodchip.
Woodchip is a relatively inexpensive wallpaper consisting of small chips of wood (thus the name) on the finished side of a basic paper base. A number of grades of Woodchip paper are available, these range from fine chips of wood to quite coarse pieces. Woodchip is ideal for hiding small defects in walls/ceiling and is usually finished by applying paint after the paper has fully dried. The finish is therefore depends upon the choice of paint used, and depending on the type of paint originally applied, an inexpensive facelift can subsequently be had by repainting.
Pulps.
This probably the cheapest type of patterned wallpaper available, it is just a pattern printed onto a basic paper. Pulps are easy to hang (and strip off) although care needs to be taken when hanging them to avoid over stretch them - over stretching any wallpaper will make matching the pattern on adjacent strips difficult, and pulps will stretch very easily.
Washable.
These must not to be confused with Vinyl wallpapers described below. Washable wallpapers have a thin plastic transparent coating covering the pattern printed on to the base pulp paper. This coating gives them more resistant to stains and marks and allows them to be regularly wiped down with a damp cloth.
Vinyl-coated.
Usually these consist of a pattern printed on to a thin skin of vinyl (plastic) with a paper backing behind. Vinyl papers are easy to hang and fairly easy to strip. They are quite tough and washable making them ideal for use in kitchens and bathrooms.
Vinyl.
These are tougher than vinyl-coated wallpapers (described above) as the vinyl skin on the front of the base paper is thicker. Hanging Vinyl wallpaper usually involves pasting the wall and then hanging the wallpaper on to it. Stripping Vinyl wallpaper can be hard as the layer of vinyl makes them largely impervious to water. Vinyl wallpapers are tough, washable and ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.
Anaglypta.
Anaglypta is, in fact, a trade name, but it has become common practice to use it as a generic name for plain embossed patterned papers. The amount and design of patterns vary - from light, random 'line' patterns (which can be treated as random, and do not require the pattern on adjacent strips to be lined up) to heavily embossed geometric patterns which do need adjacent strips aligned - the range of patterns available is quite vast. Like Woodchip, Anaglypta wallpapers are ideal for hiding defects in walls and are usually finished off with a coat of paint.
Embossed.
These are quite similar to Anaglypta but with a coloured pattern as a decorative finish rather than the plain paper finish. Normally they can be overpainted; either at a later time when the pattern has become faded and requires a facelift, or from the time it is first hung.
Blown vinyl.
These are similar to the embossed wallpaper described above but the finish is vinyl plastic which gives it a tough finish. Being plastic, these papers cannot be overpainted.
Flocks.
Flock wallpapers are one of the oldest types of wallpaper used, the pattern consists of fibres which feel and look rather like velvet. Traditionally flock wallpapers have been widely hung in pubs, clubs, restaurants etc., but can be used in any home if used with taste. In every day use they are easily marked as the natural tendency for people is to reach out and touch them.
Hand-printed.
Hand-printing was the original way wallpapers were decorated; a large printing block (covering the width of the wallpaper, and the height of a complete pattern repeat) is repeatedly applied by hand along the length of the wallpaper - this is repeated for each colour in the pattern. They can still be purchases but cost a lot of money - hardly surprising with the amount of labour involved in their manufacture. Usually, handprinted wallpapers come untrimmed and are not widely available off-the-shelf - they are often purchased to special order to match in with existing papers hung in old properties. When used, they should only be hung by a professional paperhanger as they require a lot of skill - hanging these papers is definitely not a job for a diy'er.