Reference Library: Wallpaper
:This page refers to the material used for interior decoration. For other uses, see wallpaper (disambiguation).
'Wallpaper' is material which is used to cover and decorate the interior walls of homes, offices, and other buildings; it is one aspect of interior decoration. Wallpapers are usually sold in rolls and are put onto a wall using wallpaper paste.
Wallpapers can come either plain so it can be painted or with patterned graphics. Wallpaper printing techniques include surface printing, gravure printing, silk screen-printing, and rotary printing. Mathematically speaking, there are seventeen basic patterns, described as wallpaper groups, that can be used to tile an infinite plane. All manufactured wallpaper patterns are based on these groups. A single pattern can be issued in several different colorways.
"Wallpaper" is also a term for computer wallpaper.
Wallpaper can be traced back to 200BC when the Chinese, inventors of paper itself, pasted rice paper on their walls. Modern-style wallpaper, with block designs in continuous patterns, was developed in 1675 by the French engraver, Jean Papillon.
Wallpaper gained popularity in Renaissance Europe amongst the emerging gentry. The elite of society were accustomed to hanging large tapestries on the walls of their homes, a tradition from the Middle Ages. These tapestries added colour to the room as well as providing an insulating layer between the stone walls and the room, thus retaining heat in the room. However, tapestries were extremely expensive and so only the very rich could afford them. Less well-off members of the elite, unable to buy tapestries due either to prices or wars preventing international trade, turned to wallpaper to brighten up their rooms. Early wallpaper featured scenes similar to those depicted on tapestries, and large sheets of the paper were hung loose on the walls, in the style of tapestries. Wallpaper became very popular in England following Henry VIII's excommunication from the Catholic Church - English aristocrats had always imported tapestries from Flanders and Arras, but Henry VIII's split with the Catholic Church had resulted in a fall in trade with Europe and increased wars. Unable to import tapestries and without any tapestry manufacturers in England, English gentry and aristocracy alike turned to wallpaper. During The Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell, England became an austere and dull country, and the manufacture of wallpaper, seen as a frivolous item by the Puritan government, was halted. Following the Restoration of Charles II, wealthy people across England began demanding wallpaper again - Cromwell's regime had imposed a boring culture on people, and following his death, wealthy people began purchasing comfortable domestic items which had been banned under the Puritan state. By the mid-eighteenth century, Britain was the leading wallpaper manufacturer in Europe, exporting vast quantities to Europe in addition to selling on the middle-class British market.
During the Napoleonic Wars, trade between Europe and Britain evaporated, resulting in the gradual decline of the wallpaper industry in Britain. However, the end of the war saw a massive demand in Europe for British goods which had been inaccessible during the wars, including cheap, colourful wallpaper. The development of steam-powered printing presses in Britain in 1813 allowed manufacturers to mass-produce wallpaper, reducing its price and so making it affordable to working-class people. Wallpaper enjoyed a huge boom in popularity in the nineteenth century, seen as a cheap and very effective way of brightening up cramped and dark rooms in working-class areas. By the early twentieth century, wallpaper had established itself as one of the most popular household items across the Western world.
"Wallpaper" is also a term for computer wallpaper, referring to an image used as a background on a computer screen, usually for the desktop of a graphical user interface. "Wallpaper" is the term used in Microsoft Windows, while the Mac OS avoids mixing metaphors by calling it a 'desktop picture' (prior to Mac OS X, the term desktop pattern was used to refer to a small pattern that was repeated to fill the screen).
Like paint, wallpaper requires proper surface preparation before application. Additionally, wallpaper is not suitable for all areas. For example, bathroom wallpaper may deteriorate rapidly due to excessive steam. In fact, one of the ways to remove wallpaper is to apply steam, usually from a wallpaper steamer that consists of a reservoir of water, an electric heating element, and a hose to direct the steam at the wallpaper. The steam dissolves the wallpaper paste, allowing the wallpaper to be peeled off. However, care must be taken to prevent damage to the drywall underneath.
A newer method of wallpaper stripping is the Wallwik approach, which is to apply damp sheets of wallwik fabric to the wallpaper. It uses no caustic chemicals and no heavy steam equipment -- just water, and a small amount of solution and a scoring tool. The drywall remains undamaged, whereas often with steaming approach underlying plaster can end up crumbling leaving an uneven surface.
Old paper can also be scored with a tool that looks like a hand sander with sharp wheels/teeth, then sprayed with warm water or a mixture of warm water and vinegar. After about three applications, the paper (even multiple layers) can be removed easily with the aid of a putty knife.
A safe chemical method of wallpaper spripping can be easily accomplished by the use of a non-toxic product manufactered by Jomaps (located in Alpharetta, GA) called M-1 Wallpaper Remover. Unlike other, easier to buy, products --- this one works! It only requires removing the vinyl upper layer (very easy) before you spray it on. It works after only two minutes. Keep the wallpaper backing you are removing damp and use a wide scraper to assist if necessary.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wallpaper".