PaintPRO, Vol. 6, No. 4
July/August 2004

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Related Readings:
Paintable Wallcoverings
Choosing Quality Wallpaper
Seams & Adhesives
Stripping Wallcoverings
Glass Textile Wallcoverings
Wallcovering Adhesives
More Paperhanging Tools
Other articles in this issue:
Ceramic Paints
Wallcoverings: Back In Style
Tools for Paperhanging
Conversion Varnishes
Estimating, Etc.
Contractor Profile: Coggeshall Artistry
Paint Industry News
Product News
Product Profiles
Painting Tips


PaintPRO Archives

Wallcovering, Paperhangers

One of the things that has helped wallpaper's recent popularity is that manufacturers have responded to the removal issue. Consumers have said that the No. 1 reason why they wouldn't use wallpaper again is that it's so hard to strip.

How is wallcovering competing in today’s marketplace?
I think it’s competing quite well. There is a tremendous emphasis on textures and multilayer finishes that you can only get from wallpaper.

Joe ParkerOne of the things that has helped wallpaper’s recent popularity is that manufacturers have responded to the removal issue. Consumers have said that the No. 1 reason why they wouldn’t use wallpaper again is that it’s so hard to strip. So, manufacturers have come up with a successor — a nonwoven product that looks like regular wallpaper. This new product is designed to come off the wall with a gentle pull without damaging the drywall or shredding to pieces. Just pull one corner and off it comes.

After so many years of declining sales, this product is unquestionably helping the industry regain ground. Just use the recommended adhesive and primer and the product is guaranteed to come off the wall properly. This ease of strippability really is a hot thing. Be on the lookout for promotional ads this fall on HGTV.

What is the percentage of commercial vs. residential applications?
That’s a difficult question. After 9/11, the commercial market tanked and they stopped doing anything there for a year and a half to two years. But the commercial market is hopping right now. I’d say our guild members’ work consists of 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial.

What design trends are most in evidence?
Right now we’re seeing a tremendous amount of imitation marble and various textured looks. Faux finishes are in and, I’m happy to report, the big old flowers and metallic looks are as dead as Kelsey’s cow.

What types of wallcovering are the most popular?
Textural faux looks, architectural patterns and traditional looks are being used, often with coordinating borders. A lot of these are digitally sculpted borders with irregular shapes instead of a straight edge. Some look like they have tassels hanging down. Those are very popular right now.

We’re also seeing a lot of imported English block papers with nice colorations, which can be quite pricey.

One of the newest things out there is digitally produced wallpaper with no repeat. Basically, you send a company a picture and they send you wallpaper in whatever size you want. It’s a nice niche concept that I think will be really big in the coming years.

Are consumers moving toward higher-end wallcoverings?
Definitely. I would say almost every day of the week people are choosing products that cost $50 and $75 a roll. You basically have the do-it-yourselfers buying from the big box stores and those at the other end choosing designer goods. The middle market has gone away.

By the way, I expect the new non-wovens we spoke about earlier to re-energize that middle-market area.

How can paperhangers best market their businesses?
The best thing a paperhanger can do who is trying to move into the market is join the guild. It’s all about education.

When I first joined 15 years ago, I thought I knew everything there was to know. But I soon learned there are several ways to skin a cat. I learned so much from networking with other people.

For example, someone just asked me about installing porcelain wallpaper, a product that has a crackled look to it.

I knew the pitfalls because someone in the guild told me about them and I was able share that information with someone else. You have to use a clay adhesive and let it sit for 45 minutes before putting up the wall paper. And typically some of the cracked pieces will fall off while you’re putting it up. Glue some of the parts that fell off and then use the touch-up product from the manufacturer. This isn’t specified on the directions, but take my word for it, it’ll look a whole lot better.
Education, education, education. Knowing little things like this help you along.

Tell us about the upcoming NGPP show.
This year’s convention — with the theme The Magical Roll of Wallcovering — will be held Sept. 9-11 at The Rosen Center hotel in Orlando, Fla. It features a trade show, the largest in the business, and a variety of educational seminars.

Last year’s seminar on Seam Logic, which focused on ways to color seams prior to hanging wallpaper and ways to color it so that the eye doesn’t notice the seam even if it shrinks, will again be offered. It was a great presentation last year and I highly recommend it.

Also, from Sept.7-9, there will be classes offered prior to the convention start. One is NGPP 101 — Introduction to Wallcovering Installation, which is specifically designed for newcomers to the trade. This beginning class will run two and a half days, with prior reading required, and will cover the basics of wallcovering from products and tools to estimating costs and hanging techniques. Although you won’t be able to install $100-a-roll wallpaper after taking this course, it’s a great place to begin.

For more advanced paperhangers, there’s a class on how to install fabric wallcoverings, which are very popular in today’s home theaters. There also will be a class on how to put up and color Anaglypta, a Victorian-era embossed wallcovering made from cotton pulp. Besides Anaglypta, the class will deal with Venetian plaster, torn wallpaper and leather-look goods. These hands-on classes are intensive, and class size is very limited.

Besides these great seminars and classes, attendees will be offered the chance to help us install a 15-foot golf mural on one of the walls in the hotel.

The cost to attend the three-day convention is $325 and worth every penny. For more information or to register call Pat Lowe at the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers at (800)-254-NGPP.

Joe Parker, co-owner of Precision Painting & Wallcovering Inc. in Chadds Ford, Pa., has been hanging wallpaper for 30 years. He can be reached by e-mail.


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