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How To Reproduce Existing Wallpaper Designs

Vintage wallpaper is a classic design element which instantly adds nostalgia and atmosphere to any home, office or workspace. Unfortunately, not every company which manufactures custom wallpaper stays in business, and consumers may be left without options once wear and tear have taken their toll and the wallpaper needs to be replaced.

However, there are modern solutions to this issue with the use of professional scanning and digital photography, which can be used to recreate old patterns and designs on newer, more durable stocks.

Getting Started

There are certain creative and technical considerations to be made to ensure an accurate reproduction.

Step One: Identify the “core pattern” of the design.

Is your wallpaper a repeated pattern? If so then a replica will require a full scan of the “design repeat”. You can choose any part of the design as a starting point, but the goal here is to provide your designer with enough visual content to ensure a seamless copy.

Case Study #1: Your wallpaper is built on a classic repeated pattern. For evaluation purposes, you will need a clear image of the pattern itself. This can be determined by finding elements which are repeated both vertically and horizontally, creating a square or rectangle around the repeatable area.

Core Design of a Wallpaper Pattern

It’s important to capture the entirety of this design in order to (a) get an accurate quote for a design budget and (b) create a faithful reproduction.

NOTE: There will be cases where a portion of the design is too damaged, or simply missing. In such instances an artist may need to copy/paste or illustrate parts of the design completely from scratch.

Case Study #2: Your wallpaper is a large mural of artwork, a drawing or a photograph. This means the entire wallpaper must be captured at high resolution because there is no repeated pattern to build off and recreate.

In this instance, the “core pattern” is the entire wall, which means scanning a sample is out of the question. The wall must be photographed, at the right angle and in the right lighting conditions. More on this later..

Core Design of a Wallpaper Mural

Step Two: Digitize Your Wallpaper

Method #1: High Resolution Scanning

Man Operating a Professional Digital Scanner

This is the most recommended and professional method available for reproducing wallpaper. Professional-grade scanners are a standard for capturing images at the highest possible resolution without having to worry about lighting, angles or any of the considerations that come with digital photography.

Professional scanning is also an excellent way to capture tiny detaiks and textures that a camera might miss, including fabric textures, embossing and other subtelties which add to the character of the design.

Given that original wallpaper material is required for this process, you will need to provide an actual sample of the wallpaper itself. This sample should include the entirety of the core design, but if it does not, a high resolution photograph of the rest should suffice.

Method #2: Digital Photography

Digital Camera Shooting a Wallpaper Pattern

This process requires the highest available resolution, which means you must use the maximum amount of pixels available to your camera. This is not a job we would recommend for a smart phone. You will want to use a professional grade DSLR camera, mounted on a tripod to achieve maximum clarity and detail. Ideally, you would hire a professional photographer for this project, as they are more experienced at addressing many of the issues that can arise, but plenty of people have had success with a DIY approach by observing a few important rules.

You will want to ensure an even amount of lighting (without any reflection or glare) to capture all the colors and contrast. Diffused lighting is the most effective and one of the reasons you might hire a professional. Though you can also achieve great results if your room has sufficient windows and there is no direct sunlight. A cloudy day at high noon provides ideal lighting conditions.

Proper Camera Angles for Capturing Wallpaper

You will also want to place your camera is placed in perfect parallel to the wall, in order to eliminate any potential warping of the design based on perspective.

The type of lens you use is also worth considering. Wide angle and fisheye lenses will add a curved distortion to the image which is difficult to undo digitally. For interior shots that capture an entire wall, a 16-35mm lens is recommended. If you have a smaller section to shoot, then 35-200mm will get the job done.

So which method is right for you?

We will always recommend high resolution scanning, but the method which will work best for you depends on a number of variables:

  • Budget
  • The complexity of the design (how fine are the lines/details?)
  • Your level of skill with a camera or access to a professional photographer
  • The state and condition of the existing wallpaper

Seeking Professional Guidance

Many homeowners and decorators may have difficulty assessing these variables. This is why we recommend taking two sample photographs of your wallpaper:

  1. An image of the entire wall, in order to correctly identify core patterns.
  2. A close up image of the pattern itself, for assessment of detail.

These images are for evaluation purposes only, so a smart phone or consumer-grade digital camera are fine to use.

Once you send these images to a print shop, they should have no problem providing further instructions and guidance.

A Word on Wallpaper Covering Materials

Wallpaper coverings are available in a variety of finishes, textures and materials. We always recommend that you ask to see a “press proof” of your design and all cost involved before proceeding with final production in large quantities.

When contacting a print shop, be sure to include your two evaluation photos and also describe the texture, look and finish that you would like to achieve, as this will expedite and move the process along quickly.

About Pricing

It can often be difficult for many shops to provide a straightforward pricing model given all the unique variables that come with each project.

We find it’s helpful to think of this process in two separate phases.

  1. Digital Recreation

This includes all the scanning, retouching and illustrating necessary to generate a printable file which can be output at any commercial/large format printer. For cases when you more printing options/materials/finishes to choose from, you have the option of only purchasing the design, acquiring the file and sending it to the printshop of your choosing.

The price of this process is determined by a number of factors:

  • State of the original wallpaper. Does it need a lot of retouching?
  • Completeness of the sample. Are there areas missing?
  • Necessity to match an existing installation. Do colors need to be matched?
  • Number of colors. A designer will need to trace and isolate each one, adding time to the design budget.
  • Complexity of the design. Is your core pattern large or contain lots od details?
  1. Wallpaper Matching & Printing

Your digital file is ready for printing, but not so fast there.. it would be foolish and risky to simply print lots of rolls based on what you see on screen. Computers and printers produce colors through completely different means, so you should never fully trust what you see on a monitor.

The most simple and cost effective solution is to print a sample or “press proof”. What this means is that your design is printed at actual size on the same exact material and on the same printing press, so you get an accurate preview of what your final rolls will look like.

Color matching can be a tedious process in some cases. If your requirements for a match are strict or you have very particular taste there’s a strong possibility that multiple samples may need to be purchased.

You can cut significant time and cost from a project by letting the colors have some wiggle room. We’ve seen instances where a homeowner actually saved money by reprinting all of their walls, rather than try to match a pattern with 15 colors in it. Such a use case would add significant cost to the design budget - more than it actually costs to print so this is something to consider.

NOTE: Many digital printers use a CMYK digital process with UV inks. While such technology is capable of producing millions of colors, sometimes a perfect/exact match is not possible, especially for wallpapers that use metallic inks or exotic pigments. This is why it is so important to see a sample!

Some pricing considerations for printing wallpaper:

  • Square Footage - clearly nothing impacts price more than the amount of wallpaper you need. In our experience 100-150 square feet is about the average requested size. If you don’t know what your area is, you can get it simply by multiplying the width of a wall (in feet) by its height.

  • Number of colors - not only does it add to design budget, but the necessity to print samples and provide small palettes of options adds to production time and material cost.

  • Material/Stock - Most print shops will offer traditional wallcoverings with lots of textures/effects. These typically are installed in a traditional fashion using a special paste. A more economic and speedy option is “peel and stick” wallpaper, which comes with its own adhesive backing.

  • Printing Method - in the case where you are not satisfied with the results of a digital press, there are other options, including screenblock printing, which can more faithfully reproduce certain designs. These methods are far time-consuming, costly, and beyond our area of expertise.

Our Experience

Replicating wallpaper is a highly technical process with many variables to consider. This doesn’t mean you need to be a genius, or even good with computers to faithfully replicate something which is beautiful, or of great nostalgic value.

We’ve worked on many types of printing projects during our two decades of operation. Business cards & stationery were our initial bread and butter. After that it was posterboards, banners and signage. Then wallpaper came along and took up most of our attention. Initially it was custom jobs - artists, photographers and designers would send their ideas and we’d materialize them. One fellow had us print a pattern of his dog for an entire room. Fun stuff.

Then in 2015 a shift took place and almost all of our projects became centered around wallpaper recreation. Everyone from homeowners to producers of historic films were coming to us because they had nowhere else to go.

Of all the types of printing we’d done, there was something special about this niche from the Day One. This could be due in large part to our love of history and conservation), but there’s also an emotional component to this line of work which has surprised us. The humanity in recreating the ambience of a grandparent’s house, or replicating a childhood print for a nursery can’t be understated.

A lot of these lovely people were technically uninclined. Some struggled with the use of email. Others weren’t big talkers on the phone. Many struggled to imagine a space in 3D. Thanks to them, we were able to refine our process and make it accessible to people from all walks of life.

Today wallpaper replication is our most popular service by far. When ebay, craigslist and all the fruitless internet searches have exhausted the hope of the people, Fine Print NYC is the #1 place they turn to for the replication of vintage wallpaper designs and patterns. We print rolls which are tailored to each space, ensuring a perfect fit, easier installation and reduced cost. We also stand behind our work and provide guarantees for quality and execution of your prints.

This is what we do all day, every day. And we love it! If you have any questions or would like to send us some samples, feel free to contact one of our project managers at We are also available to take your call from 9:30AM-5:30PM EST at (212) 619-5446.

The #1 Independent Wallpaper Printing & Design Shop in New York

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Guidance & Tips

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Place Order for Custom Samples12" x 12" Press Proofs Available in 4 finishing options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a minimum square footage?
Yes, we have 50 square feet minimum per order.
What are the most popular sizes?
The three most requested sizes are 100, 300 & 500 square feet.
What is the maximum width x height you can print per roll?
The maximum roll size width is 52 inches wide by 360 inches in length.
Can I see sample before printing my project?
Yes, you can order a press proof sample of your custom artwork. We offer four coating/finishing options: matte, gloss, semi-gloss and texture.  
Can I see a digital proof before final production?
Yes, our pre-press department will provide two rounds of digital proofs for approval prior to final print production. Please note, any additional digital proofs will be billed accordingly.
What kind of wallpaper material do you use?
Our wallpapers are a vinyl material with adhesive backing for fast and easy installation. They are available in matte, gloss, semi-gloss or textured coating/finishing options. We also offer traditional wallpaper.
Do you offer embossed wallpaper?
Yes, we offer specialty embossed wallpaper printing services. Please email us for more information.
What is the standard turnaround time?
Once final proofs are approved, standard production time is 5-7 business days. Please note, production time may change depending on our current press schedule and how many specialty options have been selected.
Can I pick my own design/image?
Yes, if you provide high resolution artwork, we can print your custom design.
Is the material durable and washable?
Yes, ordinary dirt and smudges can be removed from the surface with a mild soap and warm water.
Is the material removable?
Yes, our wall coverings can be removed. Please note, all surfaces must be primed with a drywall sealer and water based primer prior to installation.
Do you provide installation services?
Unfortunately, we do not provide or recommend installation services, however the following article is a useful guide for installers: How to Prepare Wall Surfaces
Can you ship material/printed samples for my review?
We can not send out material/printed samples without a job ticket being generated into our system.
How can I make a payment?
We accept all major credit cards and company checks. Please note, a job ticket must be created and payment is required before we can start proofing/final production.
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