Other Types of Wallcoverings

There are many other types of wall coverings available apart from wallpaper. The only difference between hanging wallpaper and hanging a wall covering perhaps made of cotton, hessian or any other material, is that instead of pasting the paper, it is the wall that is pasted, so that there is less chance of spoiling the delicate (and more costly) faces of wall coverings. Apply a band of paste to the wall that is a little wider than the width of the covering - that way you won't have to apply paste right up to the edge of the first drop.

Fabric Wall Coverings

Fabric wall coverings such as hessian (which is made from jute), linen, silk and satin, provide a range of coloured or neutral textured wall effects, and, furthermore, hessian can be painted with either gloss or emulsion. Fabric wall coverings should not be hung on newly plastered walls. Allow the walls to dry out for at least six months then rub them with a medium abrasive paper and apply an alkali- resistant primer. Unbacked fabric coverings should be hung on walls that have been lined first and it's a good idea to use lining paper that's the same colour as the top cover so if the joins do pull apart or shrinkage occurs, the gaps will be less noticeable. Paper-backed fabrics are available, but while these are more expensive, they are easier to hang and the paper backing prevents creases and wrinkling. Paste can be applied to paper-backed fabrics rather than to the wall, but it's important that the fabric does not become too wet. Use a felt-covered roller to smooth out each fabric length taking care not to press too hard or you can stretch the fabric and may cause the paste to seep from the joins.

Grass Cloth

This is a textured wall covering consisting of barks and grasses held together with thread and glued to a paper backing. While very attractive, these coverings are also very fragile and are not suitable for locations where there is heavy use or through traffic. Because they are made of natural materials, you should expect considerable irregularities in texture and in colour. Cutting and trimming can be a problem: you'll need a sharp curved blade to stop it from fraying. The lighter types of grass cloth are easier to hang than heavier ones, but these are also the most delicate.

Cork and Felt

Cork wall covering consists of very thin sheets of cork or cork shavings bonded to a paper backing and makes a warm, textured, honey-coloured room scheme. You'll need to hang cork covering with a recommended PVA glue to ensure adhesion, and the walls will need to be smooth. While cork is flexible, it will snap if forced over large bumps in walls. Felt is an interesting wall covering: it is available in a huge range of colours and in widths of up to 700mm (2ft 4in) that can be a little unwieldy, so it's easier to roll a length of felt on a wooden batten suspended between two step ladders and position the felt from the skirting board upwards. To butt the joins, the edges of the felt need to be very slightly teased out to create less of a harsh line so the two adjoining lengths blend together.

Lincrusta & Anaglypta

Lincrusta is a heavily moulded wall covering made of linseed oil and fillers fused onto a backing paper or fabric before the raised pattern is added by an engraved steel roller. It was often used to simulate wood panelling as well as stonework, tiles, wrought iron and even fabrics. Some Lincrustas are sold ready-coloured, while others are plain, ready for hanging and finishing.

Anaglypta is made by bonding wood pulp (or high quality cotton fibres in Supaglypta) in a sort of papier-mache, which is then passed between embossing rollers. It is very durable - highly resistant to cracking - and looks a little like decorative plasterwork. It is available in low - or high-relief patterns, but the very deep reliefs are made from vinyl (Vinaglypta) either as solid forms or heated in ovens, which 'blows' or expands the plastic and embosses it.

Foamed Polyethylene

This is a lightweight wall covering made completely of foamed plastic with no backing paper, but the surface has the feel of fabric and springs back into place if you press it gently. You'll find it in DIY and decorating stores and it comes in a range of colours, styles and patterns. Although it's made of plastic, it is still quite delicate so save it for use on walls where there isn't much wear and tear.

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