Can you hang wallpaper in humid Mexico?

We might be wrong to automatically rule out wallcoverings in Yucatan

Wallpaper in Mexico is given a second thought. Photo: Courtesy

I absolutely love wallpaper. It can give a room so much elegance and texture. It is something you cannot achieve with a regular paint job. Don’t get me wrong! I love bold, intense colors on walls. But for patterns and geometrics, nothing beats wallpaper.

The question is whether it makes sense to get wallpaper when you live in an environment with such high humidity.

For the last 10 years, I have avoided using it merely because I was not knowledgeable enough about it. Recently, I decided to dig deeper into whether this is a potential option for our homes in Mexico.

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I have two concerns when it comes to using wallpaper here. The first is whether it will even stay up on the walls. The second is whether it will generate mold.

To learn more and get to the bottom of things, I contacted the Wallcoverings Association, a non-profit trade association representing wallcoverings manufacturers, distributors and suppliers. Granted, they have a vested interest in promoting their product, but I figured they would be a good starting point.

From this source, I learned that two of the most significant sources of moisture in a building are what gets trapped in the wall cavity and condenses, and the lack of permeability of a wallcovering. It is critical that walls are designed and built with finishing materials carefully selected by the developer so that air and moisture move freely through them. This allows everything to dry. Choosing the proper wallcovering that balances performance and permeability (breathability) is also essential.

When it comes to building materials, the association cited a recent study that showed that stone-based materials (concrete or gypsum wallboard) appeared to be less susceptible to fungal growth than wood-based materials (particleboard, fiberboard and plywood made of softwoods). It surprised me about concrete, but they surmise it may have something to do with the lye. 

They also recommended that the surface is prepared correctly regardless of whether the building is new or existing. It should be clean, dry, structurally sound and free of mold, grease and any stains.

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I still don’t know for sure if wall coverings are a good idea for this climate, but I plan to test it out. I will let you know how it goes.

Sheryl Novak is an expat from Canada who has owned a home in Mexico for over 10 years. She is the owner of SOLutions Mexico, an online furniture store and an expert on sourcing all styles of furniture, for all budgets, in Mexico. 

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