There are a number of issues why your walls might not be easy to get looking great. Maybe you have an older home that has had patching done to the drywall, or 1970s wood paneling in some of the rooms, or just a poor drywall installation job. If you're looking at buying a home that has wood paneling or had previous tenants who might not have been as drywall friendly as you would have liked them to be, don't fret! There are lots of options available for you that do not involve ripping out the wall and starting over.
While it is possible to just paint over wood paneling to brighten it up, some people prefer to wallpaper over it as well. With either option, make sure to clean your paneling with some TSP first and then prime it. If your paneling has deep groove in it you will want to use a wall paper liner that provides a buffer between the paneling and the paper. This helps keep the grooves in the panels from showing through. There are some thicker wall papers that can also be used with paneling but you are likely to get better results with a paper if there's a liner used underneath.
For an unusual wallpaper alternative, there is a marble faux finish paper that is unique in that you don't hang it in strips. Instead you tear the paper and wet it, then overlap the pieces. This gives the wall no seam lines and makes it a lot easier to hang by yourself. The product claims to cover narrow groove paneling with no filling as well, making it a good option for anyone tired of dark wood walls.
Another interesting option for walls with minor damage is textured vinyl wallpaper that you can paint. The paper comes with repeating designs, many of them plaster textures but there are also geometrics and florals ranging from traditional designs to modern patterns. There are even designs that mimic Victorian tin ceiling tiles if you care to paper your home's ceiling. You can leave these designs white, or paint them to match your decor.
For those with a more modular mind, there are wallpaper tiles and textured wall tiles made from a variety of wood or bamboo fibres on the market. These tiles can be large tiles of wallpaper that you can purchase by the square to mix and match colours or three dimensional sculpted tiles that you can leave white or paint to match your home decor. Because these 3-d tiles have such a pronounced texture to them, they can cover some fairly serious wall texture problems.
If your wall just needs a minor little fix or is just really boring, consider the possibility of wall stickers or wallpaper cut outs. Thankfully, we've moved along from the old days of the tacky wall paper border. Take a look online or at your favorite paint and paper store for ideas of what's out there. Don't let the kids have all the fun either because while some designs would be fabulous in a child's room, there are many neat designs that would perk up any room in the house.
Remember, no matter if you're looking to perk up your existing home or considering buying a home that needs some love, there are many options out there to make your space truly a reflection of you. Do some research into what kinds of options are available to see what would work best in your space and remember to have fun!
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