Asked on Mar 21, 2012

Are there any special concerns or drawbacks to putting wallpaper in a kitchen?

Marianne FredricksMargaretSusan S
+46

Answered

I need to answer a homeowner's wallpaper question for an article I am writing for the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine's website.
I'm hoping my HomeTalk friends could share their positive or negative experiences with me so that I can write an informed article quoting first hand experiences.
Thanks for your help!
q are there any special concerns or drawbacks to putting wallpaper in a kitchen, home decor, kitchen design, wall decor
q are there any special concerns or drawbacks to putting wallpaper in a kitchen, home decor, kitchen design, wall decor
q are there any special concerns or drawbacks to putting wallpaper in a kitchen, home decor, kitchen design, wall decor
44 answers
  • Susan S
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I would think for a kitchen, vinyl wall paper would be an absolute from the perspective of being able to wipe splatters, splashes and all types of grunge that manages to accumulate from cooking oil, steam etc.

  • 3po3
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I am not a fan of wallpaper in general, and I have seen some dirty wallpaper in kitchens, but I know they are making a huge variety of wallpaper materials these days, and I'm sure some can well withstand the rigors of a kitchen.

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc.
    on Mar 22, 2012

    It would need to be caulked into the backsplash with the right caulking so water does not cause it to start peeling up. CP

  • Connie Sue K
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Textured paper is very difficult to keep clean in a kitchen.

  • Connie Sue K
    on Mar 22, 2012

    The texturing tends to accumulate grease and dust/soot. I guess a "Magic Eraser" would work very well for cleaning textured vinyl wallpaper.

  • Linda E
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Until my most recent kitchen I have always had wallpaper in the kitchen--I miss it--it cheers the room and it's much easier to clean than paint

    • @Linda E Linda You would be surprised at the effect you can get from a professional faux finisher and/or decorative artist without using a paper. In most cases you can end up with an even better result

  • Suzanna B
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I had my own decorating business for a long time...wallpaper is what I did most of. The preceding comments are all correct. The paper needs to be at the very least vinyl coated and even if it can be smoothed behind the counter top or the back splash, a very thin bead of clear caulking should be placed at the juncture where the two meet. That having been said, wallpaper in a well used kitchen will only last so long (3-5 years) before it REALLY will need to be replaced, unless you get really lucky with the brand of wallpaper or the kitchen is extremely well ventilated.

  • Linda C
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I moved into my fiancee's house a little over a year ago. He had his large kitchen with a high ceiling sun room completely covered in wall paper about 6 1/2 years ago. I noticed it is starting to look "dirty" and is starting to peel in corners. I noticed at the edges of the paper it looks brown and is thinning. What is the average life time for wall paper? I don't like the paper pattern myself and would love to have it taken off. IF i was to win that battle, what is the easiest way to remove it?

  • Kelli E
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Our house came with wallpaper in the kitchen that someone had put up years before. It was not near the sink or stove and was in decent shape but we took it down because I didn't think the color matched the tile very well.

  • M P
    on Mar 22, 2012

    You have to be very careful on your paper. It will absorb odors and splatters. I have had both kinds in my kitchen vinyl and regular. I personally would not do it again. I would paint with a heavy kitchen paint, and maybe put up boarder or stencil on the walls.

    • @M P My clients choose to go with the choice of decorative wall finishes. A professional can give you any kind of design and/or look without the high costs of replacement as in using the water born systems you are able to just paint right over them and/or add to them if you just looking for a change later.

  • Carol C
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I have had VERY textured vinyl wallpaper in my kitchen for about 20 years. Recently I updated the kitchen, painted over it and it looks outstanding. Everybody comments how they like it. Do not have it behind sink, though. Was very easy to wash and care for.

  • Ronnie E
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I have always had a light vinyl wallpaper in my kitchen.....done it three times over 30 years.....with absolutely no problems! I am an serious cook, but have never had a problem with stains, grease, dust, etc. All you have to do normal cleaing, just like anywhere else. Love my wallpaper!

  • Annie W
    on Mar 22, 2012

    We just bought a house and EVERYTHING is original from 1974. The wallpaper in the kitchen still looks good.

  • Aubrey L
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I have had vinyl wallpaper in my kitchen for 11 years and it still looks as good as it did when I had it installed. I just wipe it down if it gets spatters on it. The secret is to get a really good vinyl paper.

  • Cira D
    on Mar 22, 2012

    From a reformed smoker, it will fade and it's harder to get the nicotine off of. I washed down my walls twice a year, for the Autumn & Spring. I enjoyed the decorative look, but it's easier to just replace a coat of paint when needed, rather than stripping off wallpaper. No matter how easy they say it is, it is always a ton of work.

  • Angela G
    on Mar 22, 2012

    When i built my house the builder was putting knock-down finish on all the walls. I thought that would be difficult to clean in a kitchen so I wall papered it instead. I prepared the wall properly and used none textured vinyl paper. And after 16 years it held up pretty good. Every five years I would clean it with a de-greaser to get the cooking grease off. You couldn't see it but I knew it was there. And it came off easily and the wallpaper did fine. I am removing it to paint it and put a tile back splash up for a change.

  • Angela G
    on Mar 22, 2012

    A side note I was told by my contractor that wallpaper should never be put on an inside wall that is exposed to outside because of mold issues.

  • Mary E
    on Mar 22, 2012

    cloth backed vinyl will be the sturdiest. to prevent mildew, add a tablespoon of lysol (the kind in the brown bottle that's real concentrated) to each batch of wallpaper paste. i learned this trick from a veteran wallpaper person. and i learned it in florida, which is very prone to mildew. good luck.

  • Karen S
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I put wallpaper up in my kitchen. There has been no problem with dirt - just wipes off with a damp spong after 10 years. However, the textured stuff that I put on one wall in my dining room - Not so nice!! The kitchen wallpaper is not vinyl and it has a thin striped pattern (may make a difference).

  • Straight Nails Construction
    on Mar 22, 2012

    There are some great notes here. The wallpaper must be "layered" (meaning a vinyl paper with a backing between that and the layer that will stick to the wall. A smooth surface will be much easier to clean if it gets soiled. But, the question should be if this wallpaper will be the entire kitchen, or just areas, since the areas in question would be around the stove and sink area. An opposite wall to update its look could probably anything you want it to be. The caulk used should be a high quality silicone, which will make it resistant to water in its use. And to the poster that asked about how to remove wallpaper, buy or rent a commecial quality wallpaper remover. (Mine is a Wagner model). It pulls paper in more than half the time, and using solutions/scoring usually results in toxic smells in the wqrk area and the scoring can damage the surface below (usually sheetrock) that will need repair before painting.

  • Marilyn S
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I have had the same vinyl paper on my kitchen for about10 years. I wash the walls with a 50/50 mix of windex and water and wipe down with dry ,clean rags, no rinsing needed. Ihave tile for back splash and did not care for paper in areas of sink or stove. Old house, love paper, have it in every room :)

  • Wallpaper is fine until you want a change. Then you have to strip it. I have been told by many real estate agents that wallpaper can be a deal killer. . . because eventually it needs to be stripped. If you are looking for some pattern on the walls, a skilled faux artist can accomplish that for you. If they are good, it will look just like wallpaper. . . maybe even better! Contractor WallsTreat Studio/ Kass W... (Alpharetta, GA) Paint or Wallpaper? Yes, this project is painted! There are many advantages to utilizing paint instead of wallpaper: 1) You choose the perfect color(s) for your project. There is no need to ... » BEFORE. . . a bland wall. Transforming this wall with paint draws attention to the graceful curves of the staircase. Two brilliant colors of metallics were used to paint the design over the perfect color for this spac See 1 more photo

  • Kelly S
    on Mar 22, 2012

    We had regular wallpaper in the kitchen of the house I grew up in dueing the 70's. Dad hated putting it up because of the pattern and Mom later hated cleaning it because it wasn't made for a kitchen area. 3 kids and 1 dad can make quite a mess of the walls. We have semi gloss paint in ours and it cleans up reall nice. Paint is relatively inexpensive to change and requires less effort. My husband refuses to have wall paper in the house.

  • Everyone's input is great! I haven't had much experience with wallpaper especially in a kitchen. My article for Better Homes and Gardens goes out nationally so it is great to get feedback from HomeTalkers across the country. Keep up the great input. P.S. I will post the link to the article to this conversation after it is posted on the BH&G website.

  • Susan B
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I have wallpaper in my kitchen and bedrooms and Bath's and Laundry room.I put it up and it was very easy.But time consuming because I had to match a pattern but It was not to bad because it looks like weather board.I love it and I have real wood boards to make it rustic.This was my first time ever doing wallpaper.May have more plans for another room for it in the future.Hope this helps.

  • Connie H
    on Mar 23, 2012

    I have had wallpaper in the kitchen in my old house to replace the old. Was not a nitemare to remove. Researched before I tackled. Buy the cheapest fabric softener you can find-get a spray bottle-put the hottest tap water you can in it -fill half water and half fabric softener-spray wall after you have tigered it. Will peel away very smoothly. Did this with some that 70's wallpaper as well was very easy to remove. Now I paint kitchen in semi-gloss paint so it is very easy to keep clean and love it.

  • Rhonda G
    on Mar 23, 2012

    After many years, I finally pulled the vinyl wall paper off my kitchen wall. Never sized the wall either and it all came off in a snap! It was great while it lasted.

  • I love some wallpapers in the kitchen. My first and second house I had it and it really completed the kitchen. The house I am in now I faux painted with housepaint, rags, my artist brushes and acrylics to make the walls look like old world stone with a floral and vine mural. I have done way to much painting in this kitchen and landscaping to ever move. The sponge painting I did in the dining room everyone thinks is wallpaper.

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  • Lynette R
    on Mar 23, 2012

    I've been hanging wallpaper for 30 years. The most requested areas were bathrooms and kitchens. Vinyl coated works great in kitchens! I did sometimes recommend placing clean plexiglass over the paper behind cooking area stoves to keep the wallpaper looking fresh and grease/splatter free.

  • Diana S
    on Mar 23, 2012

    Vinyl because it's washable... I prefer painted walls in the kitchen due to food splatters. My walls are not suitable for wallpaper (have stupid bumpy drywall texturing), so I paint murals or words, etc... instead of wallpapering now.

  • Suzanna B
    on Mar 23, 2012

    While I had my decorating business, I was asked alot of times to remove the existing wallpaper before I could hang new any wallcoverings for the homeowner. As far as removing old/outdated/peeling wallpaper from the wall, there used to be a product called Strip+ that Sherwin Williams sold that was the VERY best to use for this endeavor. I tried them all, believe me! The ease of use the product provided was amazing and cut my removal time in half for the most part.

  • Suzanna B
    on Mar 23, 2012

    About 25 years ago, due to complaints they received about wallpaper not coming off as easy as it went on, wallpaper manufacturers began using the same production steps as they had only used in the manufacture of really high end wall coverings up till then. They fused a backing onto the vinyl front in order to make removal more simple. And indeed, if it was hung correctly with the primer being applied to the walls BEFORE the paper was hung, the paper was not too terribly difficult to remove. In theory the top coating, or front, of the wallpaper could be simply pulled away from the backing, leaving a "ready to hang" surface. Of course it never worked that way, for the most part. I had times where it was perfect, the front of the paper peeling off is sheets, just as it was hung originally. But most of the time, I ended up "scoring" the surface of the paper with a razor knife. LIGHTLY dragging the sharp edge of it diagonally from one side to the other, top to bottom, then repeating the scoring in the other direction diagonally so that once I was finished, there were Xs all up and down the paper. Once that was done, the underside of the paper was accessible to any liquid that was sprayed onto the surface. That's when the Strip+ came in. I mixed a batch of it with warm water in a spray bottle (a bottle of the Strip+ could cover an entire room if used correctly) then I sprayed the entire wall surface with the mixture. Once I finished all the wall surfaces, I started over in the same place and sprayed them again, concentrating on the seams as well as the top and bottom of each sheet of wallpaper, so that the edges were loosened by the chemical. Once the entire room had been treated 2 times, I then began at the bottom left corner of the first sheet I scored and wet down and attempted to get the paper backing to come loose from the wall. If the wall behind the paper was primed BEFORE the paper was hung and it was not stuck to naked sheetrock, when originally hung, the peeling process would often be so easy that the entire sheet came off as one piece. If the wall surface had not been treated correctly before the wallpaper was applied, then a flat 6 inch sheetrock knife became my best friend, But eventually it came off. I don't think I ever had a job that I simply could not get the wallpaper to come off, though I do know that sometimes repeated spray downs were necessary and the scraping could last for days before the walls were ready to prime and re-hang.

  • Wallpaper is definitely making a comeback...especially in kitchens & baths. HandyANDY doesn't install it but we've removed it in 100s of homes over the years. We're seeing more of it in highend homes...Sherwin Williams has some awesome paper these days so check it out

  • Suzanne B
    on Mar 23, 2012

    from the home shows it would seem that wallpaper in a kitchen may make it hard to sell the house - otherwise - go for it!

  • Susan S
    on Mar 23, 2012

    Angela G. - Wow, I think I'd have to ask that contractor what he was smokin!! When you really think about it, that statement makes no sense whatsoever. #1. If the house is properly insulated and #2. the heating/cooling system works why in the world would there be ANY mold issues???? To advise not to put wallpaper on an exterior wall kind of shows his ignorance - with all due respect. #3. With the exception of some bathrooms, practically any room is going to have exterior walls so only a couple of inside walls should be papered and the rest left undone??? I'm just sayin . . . . .

    • @Susan S It's just a fact that sometimes they will mold for any reason. Mostly because of moisture getting in behind the paper and/or vinyl. Trust me he is not ignorant about this statement because it can and does happen. I have been in the business myself for over 35 years and you would be surprised of where moisture can come from to cause such things and I have worked on some of the most expensive homes in the US. Many home owner will choose to have a decorative artist to design a wall finish for those areas which a professional artist can usually match a wall paper design. This can eliminate the worry but you should remember that moisture and mold damage can happen in any home no matter how well it is built Mold is like cancer it can happen anywhere at anytime to anyone and is a fact we all have to live with nothing is absolute or perfect.

  • Tim S
    on Mar 23, 2012

    Being in the paint industry for over 25 years.....just make sure the walls are at least primed if not painted. If the paper is prepasted, paste it again using the correct paste for the paper...paper or vinyl. Hope this helps.

  • Tim S
    on Mar 23, 2012

    Vinyl wallcovering would be better than paper in the kitchen. Food and grease will be absorbed by paper where as vinyl can be easily cleaned.

  • Kelly S
    on Mar 23, 2012

    I agree with Tim S. There is also "sizing" that has to be put on before the paper goes up. I did this with a border in my then young sons room. The border came off easy when we moved. Just wet it down, wait ten minutes and start peeling. Easiest home job ever.

  • Melanie L
    on Mar 26, 2012

    yea only wall paper one wall not the whole kitchen...

  • Thanks to everyone who contributed to this question. I sent my article off to Better Homes and Gardens today. They were very happy with it and encouraged me to continue to send in articles. Thank you, to everyone on HomeTalk and HomeTalk Facebook for your input! I will post a link to the article when it is published.

  • Susan S
    on Mar 27, 2012

    You're VERY welcome!!! So glad to be of help and we'll look forward to the article!!

  • Margaret
    on Feb 21, 2015

    use water & fabric softner apply with brush after you soak it , u can also use a roller,removes easily.m walsh Trenton,ont.

  • Marianne Fredricks
    on Sep 18, 2016

    I am a seasoned wallpaper installer. I use Shieldz White Universal Wallcovering primer under all my papering projects. Also, look for the new "non woven" wallpaper which is dry strippable. This new type of wallpaper is also nice to work with!

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