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Paper or paint?



Published: Sat, February 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Should we wallpaper or should we paint?

That is the question many people wrestle with when constructing a new home or redecorating an old one.

Here are some tips from professionals to help you decide which medium will best suit you and your walls.

WALLPAPER

Wallpaper is wonderful, until you get tired of it and want to change it.

Then it's time to whip out the scrapers and the steamers and heavy doses of elbow grease.

"The easiest wallpapers to remove are vinyl papers because often the vinyl top layer will peel away from the backing. Then you can just use hot water or a wallpaper steamer to loosen the backing so you can peel it off of the wall," explained Bob Johnson of B & amp; J Painting and Decorating in Boardman.

Using a perforated tool to score wallpaper will also aid in removal.

"Poking tiny holes in the paper allows steam and water to penetrate better, which makes for easier removal," Johnson explained, adding, "If you're worried about future removal, choose papers that are vinyl and strippable. Avoid papers that are labeled non-strippable."

Besides laborious removal, the act of hanging wallpaper can also discourage folks from choosing wallpaper over paint.

Johnson has gotten plenty of calls from well-meaning homeowners who have attempted to hang their own wallpaper and have ended up with a big mess.

"Some of the most common mistakes I see are pre-pasted wallpaper that falls off the wall because the do-it-yourselfer didn't allow it to soak long enough in water before hanging it, and seams that don't match up," Johnson said.

To ensure that wallpaper adheres properly to the wall, opt for pre-pasted wallpaper and allow the wallpaper to soak in water for at least 10 minutes before hanging.

"It's also a good idea to buy a pre-paste activator and spread it on the back of the wallpaper before you hang it. Pre-paste activators help ensure the wallpaper will stick. Extremely hard water can cause wallpaper not to stick," Johnson said.

Another way to ensure that wallpaper will adhere properly is to paint walls first with a coating of sizing.

"Some wallpaper can expand when wet and then shrink after it dries. Sizing helps keep the seams of the wallpaper tight," Johnson said.

For stubborn seams that refuse to lay flat, use a seam sealer.

"This is a glue you can use to tack down seams that peel up," he said. "Some people even paint their walls the same color as their wallpaper prior to hanging it. Then it's hard to tell if any seams peel up."

Peeling seams can be particularly troublesome in rooms with high levels of humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

"Choose a wallpaper that is made especially for a bathroom or a kitchen. These papers are made to withstand steam and humidity," Johnson advised.

Keep in mind, also, that it typically costs more to have a bathroom or kitchen wallpapered because, "kitchens and baths involve more cutting and calculating," Johnson said.

Most professionals charge different rates for different rooms and base their prices on the amount cutting and measuring involved, Johnson said.

PAINT

If the act of wallpapering a room sounds intimidating, you're not alone.

These days, many homeowners are choosing paint over wallpaper because of the hassle of removal and the initial cost of buying the wallpaper, which can be significantly higher than the cost of buying paint.

"About 75 percent of our customers choose paint over wallpaper," Johnson said. "Many people choose faux finishing and special painting techniques that mimic the look of wallpaper. Lots of my customers buy a wallpaper border and then use a faux finish on the rest of the walls. The idea of removing just a border doesn't seem as bothersome to them."

Painted diamond prints and wide stripes, as well as rag rolling, spattering and marbleizing endure as popular faux finishing techniques.

Of course, it's important to remember that faux finishing can be just as time-consuming and tricky as wallpapering, depending on what technique you choose.

"Painting a wall with vertical stripes or painting a diamond print involves a lot of measuring and calculating and precision," Johnson said.

Hiring a professional to apply a faux finish to a room can also cost just as much as hiring a professional to wallpaper a room.

If you decide to attempt faux finishing on your own, precede with caution.

"If you do it yourself, keep it subtle. Be careful not to choose colors that have too much of a bold contrast. Also, keep stepping back and taking a look at the entire wall as you work so your pattern is even throughout the room," said Christine Yash, of Paint and Paper by Christine M. Yash in Poland.

Yash said colors of the moment include Tuscan golds, taupes, neutrals and eggplants.

"Many customers find a wallpaper they like, and then choose to mimic the look of the wallpaper with paint. There are so many things you can do with paint nowadays," Yash said.

Some trends include:

* Painting a room with two different colors - for example, two walls are blue and two walls are green.

* Hanging a scalloped border along the ceiling and then painting wide, vertical stripes from the tip of the lowest scallop down to the floor.

* Painting ceilings a color besides plain, old white.

* Choosing a different color to paint the wall that lies directly behind the headboard of a bed.

* Painting walls, woodwork and ceiling the same color for a monochromatic, contemporary look.

It's also important to remember that although smooth faux finishes are easy to paint over when you want a change, textured faux finishes, such as swirled plaster faux finishes, can be just as difficult to remove as wallpaper.

"You can't just paint over top of a textured faux finish," Johnson said. "You have to sand it down and that can be just as much work as removing wallpaper."




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