Bob Vila Radio: Vintage Wallpaper

Before committing to multiple rolls of vintage wallpaper, make sure you know exactly what, and how much, you're getting for your money.

By Roseann Foley Henry | Updated Sep 27, 2013 10:12 AM

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Maybe you’re just itching to find a Space Age, geometric wallpaper pattern to complement your green Formica table. Or you’re dying to line your hallway with 1970s-era black flocked paper. Vintage wallpaper to the rescue!


Listen to BOB VILA ON VINTAGE PAPER or read the text below:

Vintage Wallpaper


These days, thanks to the Web, actual wall coverings from the past century are easier to track down than ever before. Several large online retailers, as well as smaller sellers, deal in vintage papers. This is a boon for old-house aficionados, but before you make the vintage plunge, educate yourself.

Before you buy, make sure that you can obtain enough rolls of paper to complete your job. If possible, confirm that your rolls are from the same dye lot. If you do find a pattern you love, just not enough of it, don’t despair. Maybe just wallpapering a single wall or an artfully framed panel will create the effect you’re looking for.

If you’re ordering online, remember that colors rendered on your screen don’t necessarily match the actual paper. Many retailers will provide a small sample on request.

Know what you’re getting into. Most vintage wallpapers really are paper, not vinyl. They may not be colorfast, they may be easily ripped, and they don’t come prepasted. You’ll need to use wheat paste or other appropriate adhesive; check with the seller. If you’re not up for the challenge of selecting and hanging the real thing, look for vintage and historic reproductions. But, as with true vintage wallpaper, expect to pay a premium.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.