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Wallpaper is not the same as it ever was

Wallpaper never really left the scene, but new materials and patterns have given many a new interest in the classic wallcovering.
0203 homes-wallpaper sup CC
This ain't your grandpa's wallpaper from the 70s. The modern wall covering treatment can be funky and artistic, thanks to Justin Theriault at JT Wallcoverings. JT WALLCOVERINGS/Supplied

Anyone of a decent vintage will remember the kaleidoscopic, green-orange-brown wallpapers of the 1970s with an equal mixture of horror, humour, and consternation. Those colours … those patterns … why would anyone do that?

“We've come a long way since the 70s. We've improved on products quite a bit. There's a lot of really neat stuff out there now,” began Justin Theriault of JT Wallcoverings.

The only thing worse than what it looked like, Theriault agreed, was perhaps the effort of applying it, although the act of removing it did give rise to an entirely new vocabulary of curse words, and perhaps some deltoid-burning calisthenic workouts.

Wallpaper is a lot easier to take off now, he averred.

“We've come a long way.”

The adhesive backing of wallpaper has been reformulated a few times over the decades. Nowadays, wheat- and clay-based adhesives make it so that once the backing gets re-wetted, it is basically reactivated. Whereas formerly you would be scraping off irregular chunks a piece at a time, now you can remove an entire sheet without much ado.

All of this has given wallpaper a new appeal in the minds of homeowners. Theriault explained there are some 80-hour weeks doing nothing but wallpaper projects. In business since 2008, he also used to take on painting projects, but he discovered there was enough demand for wallpaper that he hasn’t picked up a paint brush in years.

Along with material advances, patterns have also changed with the times. You can find many different artistic styles and new colour choices, though lots of products might still bear the echoes of their forebears from half a century ago.

“I've noticed that in recent years, they’ve been coming out with some really nice stuff: really fancy and really expensive papers.”

How expensive? Let’s say Swarovski-crystal-wallpaper expensive to the tune of $5,000 just for materials to paper a bathroom. The sky’s the limit as far as price goes, he continued, adding that even Buckingham Palace has wallpaper.

Most people don’t have such regal tastes — or budgets. Your basic wallpaper costs $20 to $30 per roll.

Whatever your tastes and budget, it’s important to really consider the purpose and the placing of the paper. There has been a resurgence in many people working from home and the concomitant rethinking of how that room will look on teleconference sessions. The right wallpaper can make you look modern, thoughtful, and serious; the wrong paper can do the exact opposite, if you’re not careful.

That’s one of the big reasons why Theriault recommends hiring a professional to do the job. There’s much to be said for being a do-it-yourselfer, but if your boss sees a shoddy, diagonal wallpaper behind you on your next e-meeting then it might not be such a good thing.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ecology and Environment Reporter at the Fitzhugh Newspaper since July 2022 under Local Journalism Initiative funding provided by News Media Canada.
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