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Why is wallpaper making a comeback

01:00 Tue 19th Feb 2002 |

A.� Wallpaper is the new alternative to people who have tired of paint and its the uniformity, lack of texture and often bland and unobtrusive colour. Bold, strong patterns colours and textures are very much back on map.

Q. But isn't wallpaper often bland or downright gaudy

A. There is a new breed of wallpapers that are a long way from the understated pastel shades with small floral designs of the 1980's or the thick lurid flock of the 1970's.

The revolution in printing techniques means wallpaper can now bridge the gap between decor and art. At the contemporary end there are papers with contrasting matt and shiny surfaces, monochrome tones in barcode like stripes or digitally printed ones with a single huge image.

For the more traditional feel there are new ranges that draw on some of the most elegant, often hand painted designs of past centuries. For instance, one company are now offering a range modelled on the interiors of some of the National Trust's finest old houses.

Q.� But wallpapering is much more difficult that slapping on a lick of paint. What do we need to do to get off to a good start

A.� You might get away with slapping new wallpaper on top of old but it is better not the risk it as the chances are the additional weight will soon see it peeling off.

The starting point is to get the surface nice and smooth, which means getting rid of the old wallpaper with a steamer first or sanding down paint.

Lining paper will hide small cracks and bumps but larger cracks will need to be sanded, or if the wall is in a poor state, even replastered.

If you do use lining paper put up a half width first so that the seams of the lining and the wallpaper don't meet.

Q.� How do you know how much wallpaper to buy

A.� Measure the lengths of all the walls to be covered, add it together and then multiply it by the height of the walls. Measure doors and windows at the same time and subtract the total from the total area figure.

There will always be waste in wallpapering and there is nothing worse than running out so multiply your total area figure by 1.15 to determine how many rolls you will need.

Q.� And what about the hanging

A.� There are two things to do before you start. The first is to invest in a pasting table. They are cheap, fold up easily, give you the length you need to apply the paste and will save your kitchen table becoming a sticky mess.

The second is sizing your walls. This has nothing to do with measuring but refers to applying a three-quarter strength mix of wallpaper past to the entire surface to quench its 'thirst' . If you don't you'll find the walls absorb the moisture of the paste almost on contact, making it very difficult move or adjust the paper.

Q.� Right, what about the hanging itself

A. Measure each strip around 5cms too long, apply the paste from the centre outwards. Line up to the top edge so it overlaps by about 2cms and slide the paper into place brushing out bubbles with a papering brush, again from the centre outwards.

When you encounter light switches lay the paper over the switch tightly enough for its face to make an impression on the paper and cut two crossing diagonal lines about a centimetre from the corners.

Cut out the resulting triangles and fold the flaps underneath the switch.

Finally fold the excess at top and bottom into a sharp crease and cut away with a sharp knife or wallpaper scissors.

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By Tom Gard

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