Use new technology and trends to improve the finish and functionality of your walls.

Buyers guide to wallcoverings1

Image: Walls and Floors (01536 314 730;


Regardless of the age or style of a home, its walls will be one of the most prominent features. So it’s essential to consider what wall treatment is right for your property. Your choice should be influenced by how the space will be used – in areas with a high footfall, where scuffs and scratches are likely, use a covering that can be easily refreshed. Bathrooms and kitchens will need a surface that can withstand condensation and be wiped clean, whereas in bedrooms and living rooms the focus will be on the finished look rather than durability.


Expert panel

Wall panelling is becoming increasingly popular, adding texture and character to contemporary builds. Despite the Victorian echoes, the use of lighter woods and bold hues modernises this wall treatment. Panelling is also a practical choice to conceal uneven walls. If you want to minimise costs, consider reclaimed timber wall cladding. Remember that if planks need to be treated or stained, it will increase the price.

Alternatively, opt for wood-effect laminates or vinyls. ‘Laminate wall panelling is becoming more popular because of its looks, as well as the ease and speed of installation,’ says Stuart White, managing director at Bushboard (01933 232 272; ‘There is a trend for wood-grain effects at the moment, particularly weathered and salvaged timbers. High-performance laminate surfaces, which are realistic in colour and texture, can even be used in rooms with high moisture levels, as they are durable and easy to maintain.’


On the tiles

Tiles are a practical and stylish option for bathrooms and kitchens, but there is no reason to limit them to these areas. 3D-effect tiles are particularly eye-catching, transforming walls into works of art. They are also effective at disguising uneven surfaces. Another trend to watch this year is terracotta, which is replacing the current fashion for crisp, white surfaces.

‘Tiles are a great way to give your room some texture,’ says Cato Cooper, co-owner of The Emporium Somerset (01823 660 076; ‘Tiling a whole wall can be costly; fix tiles to a key section for a cheaper alternative.’

If you’re choosing to take on tiling yourself, the key is preparation. Begin by calculating the number of tiles you need, including wastage. Lots of suppliers offer a guide as to how many square metres a pack of tiles will cover, or have a calculator tool to help.

Buyers guide to wallcoverings1

Image: Stone & Ceramic Warehouse (020 8993 5545;


In print

From the days of William Morris to modern, high-tech digital printing methods, wallpaper has always had a place in the home. New technologies allow designers to experiment with techniques and motifs. Developments include interactive options allowing homeowners to change a shade at leisure, or built-in lighting and sound projection. There is now scope to include sensors for monitoring noise levels, gas contamination and fumes, meaning your walls will be able to help protect your health.

Adding a tactile surface to walls will help create a sense of depth that can be temporary if you don’t fancy a drastic change. ‘Fabric works well as a wall covering,’ explains Cooper. ‘A bold colour or interesting pattern can add interest without you having to make a permanent change.’ FabriTrak (020 8789 4063; is a system that provides a method for using fabric as an interior finish, by stretching it across a rigid vinyl framework. It’s compatible with most materials and fire-retardant.


Smart surfaces

When it comes to paint, it’s no longer just a choice of colour. Eco-friendly paints are increasingly widespread. Lime paint, available at Maitland & Poate (07801 055 330; maitland, contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), meaning fewer toxic emissions. It comes in a variety of shades that can be used on any porous surface, and has a matt, textured finish reminiscent of rustic Mediterranean plastered walls.

British Gypsum (0115 945 1000; allows you to create an interactive surface with its Thistle magnetic plaster. Use it to display reminders in a home office, or provide children with a fun activity space, demonstrating how wall coverings are now just as much about function as they are finish.


Words: Seoana Sherry-Brennan, Photography: Button & Sprung

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