Wallpaper, also known as wallcoverings today, is a popular way to transform a room and can add a rich feeling of depth. There are many different types of house wallpaper available, from traditional to contemporary, so you can choose the best design for your space. Some of the newer varieties, like those from Chasing Paper and Flat Vernacular, even look like fine art and come off easily without leaving any marks behind. This makes them a favorite of people who don’t want to commit to a single style for too long.
In the mid-1880s the first oil-based pigments made it possible for manufacturers to produce house wallpapers that could be washed and that were arsenic-free. Previous wallpapers had used a variety of toxic dyes, including arsenic, which was especially dangerous for children and the sick. This was a major breakthrough in the wallpaper industry. Until that point wallpaper had been considered a frivolous luxury item for the rich.
The popularity of oil-based wallpaper increased rapidly in the late 1800s as designers began to introduce patterns influenced by modern art and popular culture. By the 1920s there was a vast array of styles from which to choose. Stylized leaves and flowers were still very common but there were now zig-zag Jazz designs, Cubist-inspired geometrics, and Oriental subjects.
The earliest machine-printed wallpapers tended to be thin and colourless compared with hand-blocked papers but the speed of production and price reductions made them a popular choice. By the 1850s manufacturers produced a wide range of scenic, panoramic and trompe-l’oeil wallpapers. Joseph Dufour & Co. offered an array of landscapes including views of antique architecture, exotic gardens and pastoral scenes and the wallpaper company Zuber et Cie produced panoramic wallpapers that were often of North America.
During the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell in the early 1600s, the manufacture of house wallpaper was prohibited but it was revived after his death. This was largely due to the restoration of Charles II which gave wealthy English people the freedom to purchase comfortable domestic items that had been banned under the Cromwellian regime.
Fabric backed house wallpapers are the most durable and they also prevent fires, they are more expensive than other wallpapers but they are easy to hang and will last for years. They can be printed with many different textiles including silk, linen and cotton. The disadvantage of these is that they are more difficult to work with than other types of wallpaper.
Foil wallpapers, which are also sometimes called reflective or mirroring wallpapers, have a silvery sheen that reflects light in different directions. This gives a brighter and more dramatic effect to a room than traditional wallpaper. Foil wallpapers are much easier to install than traditional vinyl and are very durable.
There are a variety of different types of modern wallpapers, some of which are no longer made from paper. Currently the most popular type is prepasted vinyl coated paper. Other types of house wallpaper include vinyl-backed fabric, cloth backed vinyl, and foil. All of these are more durable than vinyl and can be trimmed to different sizes depending on the room.