Hanging wallcoverings can be a true art form, and professional installers take pride in their work just as artists do. Like art, wallcoverings also are subjective. What some installers love, others may avoid. What some may find challenging, others may find fun. Or maybe it’s the challenge that makes it fun! Here’s a glimpse into the wondrous world of wallcoverings and examples of some Wallcovering Installers Association (WIA) favorites based on the unique challenges they present or the fun they bring to the creative process.
Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers creators specialize in reproducing 19th and 20th century patterns that fashion vintage atmospheres in historic spaces. From yesteryear’s Victorian mansions to historic hotels, restaurants, museums, and movie sets, Bradbury & Bradbury wallpapers have graced countless celebrated interiors since its founding in 1979. Company designers, after carefully researching Victorian design, launched a line of “roomsets” that offer intricate patterns and color combinations for walls and ceilings.
On her website, apaperhanger.com, WIA member Heidi Wright-Mead shows the challenges and incredible rewards of installing Bradbury & Bradbury’s B.J. Talbert roomset in a San Francisco-area Victorian. The master bedroom has an oval-shaped double cove with a slightly domed ceiling and several tricky corners and turns. In some areas, Heidi had to carefully deconstruct the art paper — literally cut it down into two-inch or smaller square elements — to maintain the pattern while manipulating the ceiling’s curves. She said it’s like putting together a puzzle inside an exercise ball. Challenging? Extremely! But it’s a labor of love with jaw-dropping results. Bradbury & Bradbury installations are so specialized the WIA has offered its members special education courses and corresponding accreditation so installers can learn from each other the true art of Bradbury & Bradbury installations.
Designers at British-born Lincrusta also produce highly challenging wallcoverings that demand incredible skill and attention to detail when installing. Lincrusta creations have lined iconic interior walls such as those of the Titanic and the White House. Lincrusta wallcoverings boast deep embossing that flawlessly mimics the art of intricate plasterwork popular in the late 1800s. Once affixed to a surface, the three-dimensional effect of Lincrusta lends itself to a second tedious step — painting accents on the embossed surfaces. Lincrusta offers training courses to installers, and course participants “must be qualified at NVQ Level 2 or above in Painting and Decorating to be awarded a Lincrusta 'Skills' Card and be entered onto our database.” The WIA has offered members two Lincrusta installation courses in recent years and respective accreditations.
Digital wallcoverings may not involve the intense installation training or skills Bradbury & Bradbury or Lincrusta papers require, but they are nonetheless a fun challenge for installers. Digitally printed designs allow installers to work with clients from concept to creation to produce truly customized wallcoverings exclusive to those customers. Digital wallpapers can feature a client’s own artwork, photography, quotes, or word combinations — there truly are no limits to creativity here! Installers act as liaisons between clients and printers to ensure the materials used in printing processes are properly suited for clients’ wall surfaces. During the actual installs, perfect seam alignment is critical so the digital image flawlessly flows from one wallcovering segment to the next. Easy? No. But, once completed, seeing a one-of-a-kind piece with distinct meaning for a client is worth every minute of meticulous work.
Textiles and fabrics encompass a category of wallcoverings that involves specific techniques regarding seam placement, material cuts, and adhesive adjustments for various fabric types and textiles including felt, linen, cotton, and flannel. With a growing trend in eco-friendly wallcoverings, new textiles hitting the market present exciting opportunities for installers to try something fun and new.
One example is HYTEX® ECO-A.R.T.™ Acoustic Recycled Textiles, which are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. One yard of this wallcovering contains 15 plastics bottles. Its acoustic properties are ideal for rooms that require sound mitigation, and the entire wallcovering can be recycled back into fiber at the end of its life cycle.
With so many options, obtaining proper training is a great way to prepare for unique installations. And, since each textile is highly unique in its composition, each also, therefore, presents different installation challenges. The Wallcovering Installers Association offers education for wallpaper installers through accreditation programs, so members can gain the knowledge and expertise required to adapt to diverse materials.