Paint and wallpaper are the main products used in decorating and there’s a bewildering amount of choice on the market today. The main drivers for choosing the right product are looks, costs and speed of application. Which criteria are more important for you depend on whether you are renovating for profit or simply to have a nicer home for you and your family to enjoy.
If you are renovating for profit, you are advised to make your paint choices pale and neutral. Let’s face it, you are never going to accurately guess what your new buyer will like on the walls so put up a clean, blank canvas for them to see the property at it’s best and then decorate over. Pale colours also make rooms look lighter and bigger, which is better for selling.
Preparation is Everything
Regardless of whether you go for wallpaper or paint, preparation of the wall surface is key to getting a good finish. If the current surface is in good condition, painted walls can be rubbed down with a sugar soap solution or similar product to clean them and provide a key for new paint. If the old paint is not in good condition it will have to be sanded down and then washed down to remove the bits. In both cases you will then need to put down a layer or two of primer.
If there’s wallpaper on the walls, it will need to be removed either by scraping it off by hand, or hiring a wallpaper steamer, which dissolves the paste, allowing the paper to be peeled away. Again, once the wallpaper’s off, the surface will need preparation, although with some vinyl wallpapers, the plastic top later will peel away, leaving a layer glued to the wall, onto which new paper or paint can be applied.
Once your surface is prepared and primed, paint can be applied with brushes or rollers, or even sprayed on. In rooms that are likely to get damp, such as bathrooms and kitchens, consider a glossy finish that will be better at repelling moisture.
If you have a period house, there are a couple of suppliers providing ‘heritage’ colours, which will retain the correct, feel for the property. Otherwise choose you colour and cost bracket and away you go.
Wallpaper goes in and out of fashion and is currently enjoying something of a revival. If you’re renovating for profit you are unlikely to choose wallpaper unless it’s a very high-end renovation. Again there are glossier finish papers that will suit bathrooms and kitchen better than others, but otherwise the choice is down to taste and budget.
Calculate how many rolls you will need and it’s then a good idea to buy one more roll than you need, as batches will vary slightly and if you have to buy another roll to finish off it may be a slight different shade. It’s worth hanging on to a part-used roll so that you can repair damage in the future, and many shops will take back completely unused rolls. Shops will have tables to help you work out how many rolls you need.
It’s easy to achieve a good looking finish when hanging wallpaper as long as you take time and care. Use a plumb line rather than a door or window frame to line up the first strip and once each strip is hung, brush it over from the top down to remove all air bubbles Make sure you have a very sharp plain-edged knife to cut along the borders cleanly and smoothly, and a very thin roller to press the paper well into the corners.
Take Time and Reap the Dividends
Whether you choose paper or paint, remember that taking time and care during the preparation and the application stages are most important for achieving a professional finish. Sloppy finishes will show up much more than you think, will put buyers off and stop you from achieving you best price. If you’re decorating for yourself, those mistakes will stick out like a sore thumb and irritate you for years!