The term wallpaper reminds us of the Falcon Products salesman, played by Mohanlal, in good-old Sathyan Anthikad movie T.P. Balagopalan MA. Though the product proved to be a disaster on screen, the wallpaper imbroglio etched into the memory of Malayalis. Perhaps for the same reason, it took many more years before Malayalis started spending money on wallpapers to adorn the walls of their newly constructed homes.
Although designs were scarce in the beginning, the debut of digital printing has given a major fillip to the sale of these wall adornments.
The markets today has a wide range of wallpapers to choose from. Made from paper that adds a tad more thickness to the common chart paper, the wallpapers find a good market in Kerala. According to shop owners, vinyl wallpapers rule the market, as any design is possible on the material and it is washable too.
Of late, eco-friendly, non-woven wallpapers are also finding a place in the market. This material is mostly preferred by those opting for green buildings. The non-woven variety neither expands or contracts on weather variations. The only disadvantage could be that texture finishes may not be possible on it.
With the advent of digital printing, wallpapers are now more popular than ever as it enables customers to customize the designs. Even 3D images are just a mouse click away.
If you go shopping for wallpapers, you would realize the market is full of a wide variety of finishes to choose from; smooth textured surfaces that resemble floor tiles, metallic finishes and more are waiting to be picked up. There is much demand for those with sand or glass coating. Some of them even offer the option to let you paint on them.
Wallpapers are available as sheets measuring 42 and 21 inches. A roll would bring with it a 57 sq feet sheet. A roll of vinyl wallpaper costs Rs 4,000, which means Rs 60 per sq ft, in the market as per current rates. Non-woven sheets cost a bit more – between Rs 100 and Rs 250. The ones that would cost more are the ones with handcrafted designs.
A sq ft of such wallpaper sheets would set you back by at least Rs 450, which means you will have to spend around Rs 25,000 for a roll. The price would vary according to the colors used. These variety of wallpapers are multi-printed as per the hues used. Every time a color is printed, the cost too climbs.
A majority of wallpapers – around 90 percent of them – available at the moment, come from Korea. China-made ones are also available for prices starting at Rs 30 a sq ft. The cost depends on the basis of the number of rolls – more rolls would mean less cost. If the package comprises 10 rolls, you could buy them for around Rs 500- Rs 700.
Things to keep in mind while purchasing wallpapers
A significant advantage of wallpapers is the huge variety it offers in terms of design, compared to paint and cladding. Further, the time taken to affix a wallpaper on a wall is very less. Two workers can finish pasting wallpapers on a 10x10 wall in less than two hours.
Wallpapers can’t be used for exteriors as it can’t withstand moisture and sunlight. Direct sunlight can render the glue useless and the wallpaper would peel off.
Once you decide to have wallpaper for your room wall, it is a must that the surface should be cleaned and polished well in advance. The wallpapers should be affixed in such a way that there is no scope for vacuum spots underneath. The sheets should be pasted in a perpendicular fashion, and ensure that the design has continuity. Also, make sure that the sheets are not pasted one over the other. Paste wallpapers only after the entire work on the house is over so that they stay fresh and neat.
Always choose a wallpaper that suits the room. Also, it needs to be noted that the entire walls of a room need not be pasted with wallpapers. Normally, wallpapers are chosen to highlight one of the walls in a room. It could be on the wall that is close to the bed or television space, or even the ceiling or pillars.
Kerala is yet to recognize the role of wallpapers in adding glamour to the house and most of the time, home owners who opt for the same don’t use it full potential to spruce up their interiors.
Janice Naha Sajid, Interior designer, Kozhikode
Naish Interiors, Thammanam, Ernakulam
Elba Furnishings, Kottayam