The use of wallpapers in interior decoration has been around since the 1700s. However, for a long time they were the preserve of aristocrats. It’s even reported that one of the most expensive wallpapers was one known as “Les Guerres de l’Independence Americaine (The Wars of Independence of America) cost $79,000 (Sh8,137,000) for 32 panels, and covering a wall length of 15.04 metres.
Over time, though, and with the advent of technology, wallpapers have become affordable to more people.
Wallpapers come in different designs, materials and textures, which result in different types of surface finishes. Below are some types of wallpapers
These usually consist of a pattern printed on a thin skin of vinyl (plastic) with a paper reinforcement. Vinyl papers are cheaper, even washable, which explains their popularity in the market.
This is probably the cheapest type of patterned wallpaper. It consists of plain colour/pattern printed on a basic paper. Pulps are easy to install and remove. But they are delicate and, therefore, require care during hanging to avoid overstretching them.
“When one panel of wallpaper is overstretched, it becomes difficult to match the patterns with the adjacent ones. When the pattern is lost, the whole purpose of using wallpapers is defeated,” says Ms Susan Rukwaro a Nairobi-based interior designer.
This type varies from light, random “line” patterns to heavily embossed geometric patterns. They are ideal for concealing defects on the walls/ceiling and are usually finished off with a coat of paint.
“The best feature of this type is that they don’t lose their pattern even after a coat of paint is applied. The ideal place to use them is the ceiling,” says Ms Rukwaro.
This type of wallpaper has a finish of vinyl plastic finish, which means you cannot paint on them. However, it is this tough finish that makes it suitable for the kitchen and bathroom.
The non-woven wallpapers are the most durable wallpapers, but these are rare in the Kenyan market. Their fibrous patterns lend them a cloth-like feel. These are ideal for high traffic PLACES such as clubs, restaurants, corridors and walkways.
“This type of wallpaper is both visually and physically attractive. But due to its strength, it is very expensive,” says Mbugua wa Kamau of Wallpaper Kenya.
Wallpapers are poor conductors of heat, which makes them good temperature regulators; the keep a room warm when it is cold and cool on hot days.
Since they are made from paper, they allow the stylist to achieve effects that are not possible with paint.
“Wallpaper can be creatively overlapped to achieve a certain effect. If you try that with paint, what you get is a chaotic appearance,” warns Ms Rukwaro.
Besides, wallpapers hide small blemishes on the wall such as cracks and uneven finishes, which are almost always is reflected in the shine of paint.
Then, unlike paint, wallpapers unlike paint are odourless, which makes them ideal for people allergic to the smell of paint smell. Besides, once hung in a space, the place can be used immediately.
“You can actually hang wallpapers in a room even as people are using it,” says Ms Rukwaro.
When paired with certain lighting, drapes and blinds, they create spectacular effects in a space.
The ease of removal of wallpapers enables the user to peel them off when moving, and with minimal or no damage at all to the surface. “It’s also possible to reuse wallpapers,” saysMbugua was Kamau Wallpaper Kenya.
Wallpapers can be used for walls, ceiling and to embellish furniture and other articles both formal and informal settings. They can be used on usable a wide range of surfaces, including wood, tiles, stone and even synthetic material.
Wallpapers come in a wide variety and with considerations such the purpose of the room, the available space, mode of lighting, personal taste and the intended statement.
“Some wallpapers absorb light and remain illuminated even after the source of light goes away. They glow in the dark,” says Kamau.
For people with a vibrant personality, Ms Rukwaro recommends wallpapers with a glittery finish, and which shimmer when light falls on them.
Perhaps you could experiment with wallpapers in 2017 for an elegant look at home or in your office.