How To Hang Specialist Wallpapers – A Simple Guide

Specialist Wallpapers are the perfect investment if you want to create a different feel to your room.

Many people ask, “How do I hang specialist wallpapers?” Well, this article will provide you with all of the tools and information that you need to know about hanging specialist wallpaper; step-by-step, it will show you what is involved in hanging them.


What are specialist wallpapers?

If we asked you to name some wallpapers, you would probably say something like “Vinyl” or “Woodchip”, these are standard wallpapers that most of us have come across over the years. Maybe not woodchip so much these days except to strip it off.

Specialist wallpapers are less known, and this is for two reasons. First, they are costly, and your average person does not have them in their lounge. Second, they are mainly used in a commercial setting, and finally, they are traditional and only used in heritage work.

There are several specialist wallpapers available to the decorator, and I will list a few here:

1. Grasscloth

Grasscloth is a term commonly used to describe wallcovering made from hand-woven strands of natural fibres on a rice paper backing. The fibres include jute, hemp, seagrass, and bamboo.

2. Lincrusta

Lincrusta is an embossed wallcovering invented by Frederick Walton. Lincrusta was launched in 1877 and has been used in a number of applications from middle-class houses to bars and restaurants. Many examples over a hundred years old can still be found all over the world.

Lincrusta is made from a putty-like substance, and the pattern is embossed into this making it very durable. Many of the traditional patterns are still available; however, a new range of patterns have been developed, giving the best of both worlds with a very durable wall covering and also very durable.

3. Flock

Flock wallpaper was originally invented to imitate expensive cut-velvet hangings. Traditionally it was created by adding ‘flock’ – a waste product of the woollen cloth industry, which came in powdered form – to an adhesive-coated cloth to create a raised velvet-like textured pattern or design.

These days flock wallpaper is available in bold, brightly coloured patterns, which are ideal for a feature wall if you want to make a real statement. It is a delicate wallcovering that needs to be handled with care, firmly placing it in the “specialist” category.

4. Hessian

The best way to describe Hessian is that it looks like a sack. It is made from woven Jute fibres, which give a rustic and tactile feel to the wallcovering. It looks great in commercial settings for feature wall areas, especially if the look is semi-industrial.

5. Wide vinyl

Many commercial properties, offices, schools and banks want hard-wearing vinyl covering their walls, and wide vinyl offers a perfect solution. It is a wide width paper, typically around a metre. The joints are “spliced”, meaning that they are invisible once the paste is dry. The wide width also means that it is fast to hang on larger wall areas, making it a lucrative skill for a decorator to have.


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How can it be learnt?

For a decorator who has never wallpapered, hanging a specialist wallpaper can be a challenge. They are expensive to buy, and they are delicate or difficult to use. The upside is that earnings can be really good for the decorator willing to train you could also get free funding for this training.

If you have never hung wallpaper or hung very little, you would need to go onto an Introduction to wallpapering to learn the basic skills. You would get to handle a range of standard wallcoverings and look at measuring and patterns. You would also look at starting and finishing points in a room and balancing the pattern.

If you have hung a lot of wallpaper, you could go straight onto the specialist wallcoverings course. You would learn about the specialist pastes that are used, and you would also learn how to handle the wallcovering so that you get a perfect result.

Different specialist wallpapers have different issues. For example, Lincrusta is a thick wall covering almost like a floor covering and is challenging to cut and handle. You need to know how to cut hung simply due to how thick the wallcovering is. 

Flock, on the other hand, is easy to cut; however, it is very easy to damage and mark with the paste, so it needs to be handled carefully. 

What is the outcome of using specialist wallpapers?

Wallpaper has had a rocky time over the last 40 years. Back in the eighties, everyone had everything wallpapered. Their lounge, the hallway landing and stairs, their bedrooms. Whole houses were wallpapered, and there was a lot of paper hanging work for decorators to hone their skills. Wallpaper was cheap too so that if you made a mistake and ruined a roll, it was not the end of the world.

Then in the nineties, everyone started rag rolling their walls, and decorative effects were all the rage. Television programs like “Changing rooms” had everyone ditching wallpaper for these effects. The rooms were very busy and had lots of colours and designs.

Then as we entered the new millennium, all this became too much for people, and the backlash was plain white. In many cases, whole houses were painted white, and the minimalist look was all the rage.

Finally, we have arrived back at a place where people want a feature wall in their lounge or bedroom to look a bit special. People are now paying a lot for these papers, and it is not unusual for a customer to pay £150 a roll for a wallpaper going onto a feature wall.

Because many decorators have never wallpapered, and they are not confident enough to hang expensive wallpaper onto someone’s feature wall. This means that the going rate for a confident and competent decorator who can hang wallpaper is high.

Specialist papers are ideal for feature walls, and if you can handle them, it means that you can offer this to your customers and charge accordingly because there are not many confident paperhangers out there. Well worth doing some training if this is the kind of work you want to offer to your customers.

5 tips when using specialist wallpapers

1. Read the label very carefully so that you understand precisely how to handle the paper. 

2. Be clean and tidy. Ensure you work in a very clean and tidy manner; many specialist paperhangers wear white gloves to ensure that they do not damage the paper.

3. Use the correct adhesive. Almost every specialist wallpaper that we use on our course has a specialist paste that must be used. You cannot just use normal “flake” paste for something like Lincrusta; it will just fall off the wall.

4. Spend time planning before you hang the paper to plan how it will be hung. How will each length fall when it meets the fireplace or window, for example? These are better planned before you start hanging the wall covering. Twenty-minute planning can save you hours of heartache if the paper does not fall right when it meets an obstacle.

5. Measure carefully. When measuring up for a specialist wallpaper, you need to be accurate. You cannot add on a “roll for luck” when the customer pays £150 a roll. 

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