Here’s an email I received for information about paintable wallpaper for old houses:
Dear Johanne: Several years ago I attended one of your courses about Heritage Houses. You showed us how you had renovated your bathroom, using paintable wallpaper. It was gorgeous. Was it a difficult product to work with? Some of the reviews that I have read indicated that there were adhesion issues. Was that your experience? Is it “better” to apply the wallpaper dry, or to use the type with the adhesive on the wet wallpaper? Can I apply this paper over paneling?
Hi Karen: The wallpaper I showed the group when I held the class in my home is known as “Anaglypta”. This is a wallpaper that has been around since the late 19th century. It was developed as an alternative to “Lincrusta”, its older brother, because the latter was rigid, heavy and expensive. I have installed Lincrusta wainscotting and friezes and can attest to all three.
Made of wood pulp and cotton, Anaglypta was of a lighter weight and much more flexible. True Anaglypta is still being made by the Crown Company in England. This paper is not pre-pasted and it has an embossed raised design. The underside of the wallpaper is hollow where the design is raised on the surface. That is how you can tell you have actual Analglypta.
This is one on-line advertisement for the product with my comments in italics next to it:
1. The paper is often hung on ceiling to mimic antique tin ceilings yet a wide variety of designs are available. (Look for the original Anaglypta designs. In order to remain relevant in today’s market, the company has introduced designs that are solid – no hollow spaces left by raised surfaces. These are made of vinyl, not cotton, and many of the designs are too contemporary for authentic period style.)
2. Anaglypta is paper-based and relatively easy to hang. (Ah, the word is “relatively”- relative to what? It can be done but timing is of the utmost importance. You need a special clay-based wallpaper paste which you apply to the back of the paper. You then have to time how long you let it soak into the paper before hanging it up. Once you decide how long to soak it, say 10-15 minutes, each piece you apply thereafter has to be left for the same time. If there is a difference in soak times your patterns will not line up when they are dry. Remember you are working with cotton here and cotton shrinks. This can be quite tricky when papering ceilings – which I also have done.)
3. Installation of Anaglypta on walls as well as using it as a base for decorative paint treatments is common.( I love it for that reason. I created a glazed wall over heavy Anaglypta in our entrance. It looks great and really suits the house.)
4. Due to the raised relief pattern and thickness of the paper, Anaglypta is often ideal to cover wall damage. (Yes, it is ideal for that, however the paper is made of cotton so as it dries it moulds itself on to the wall. If you have gaps or cracks or texture from paneling the paper may simply accentuate that. Make sure you fill any spaces with caulking or fillers suitable for your wall and prime the surface before you apply the paper. Papering walls with glossy finishes is not recommended without priming them first.)
Regarding the adhesion, yes I have had issues with this but it was mostly when I installed the heavier paper. Interestingly enough however, the problem was only in certain areas. It is very difficult to attempt to re-glue any of these sections and I had to resort to using wood glue.
Would I use it again? Yes, most definitely. Our bathroom walls were done eight years ago and the Anaglypta is holding up remarkably well.