Have I Mentioned That I HATE Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Wallpaper?

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Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Here are pictures of curling seams in a bathroom in a 1963 ranch style home in Meyerland (Houston). These older homes have low ceilings, poor air circulation, non-existent exhaust fans, and outdated air conditioning / heating systems. Which equals HUMIDITY. Humidity is the Great Enemy of wallpaper.

And these paper-backed solid vinyl wallcoverings are particularly problematic. In my opinion, the paper backing absorbs moisture (humidity) and swells, while the plastic top layer cannot, so the paper curls at the seams. The material also delaminates – which means that the plastic top layer will actually detach itself from the paper backing. The curling that follows cannot be “reglued.”

But this home has other issues going on. Besides the humidity and the delaminating, it looks as though the original installer did not properly prime the walls. It’s possible that his paste was not formulated to stand up against humidity.

But more important, over the years, many things have been done to this room. And so we have layers of original oil-based paint covered with latex paint, and on top of that patches of joint compound, and more layers of various products … and at some point, these disparate materials cannot keep holding on to one another, and may pull apart – resulting in curling wallpaper seams.

This room has also experienced water damage from a leaky window, and toilet, and roof. Water from those leaks got into the Sheetrock and deteriorated the internal structure, which became weak and then pulled apart. And when those internal layers pulled apart, the torque (stress) put on the walls by the drying wallpaper was enough to pull the layers of wall apart, and that can cause the wallpaper seams to curl.

Curled seams are not always just about the subsurface, though. When pasted, many of these papers will have their paper backing swell, and when the front plastic layer does not swell, then you have seams that curl backwards even before you get to the wall. And once on the wall, the product can continue to curl. Sometimes these seams will dry flat. But many times, the seams don’t look as good as they should, plus are ripe for swelling / curling more, once a little humidity is introduced into the room.

In my opinion, PAPER or the newer NON-WOVEN wallpapers, are better options.

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