The interior style of a summerhouse can transform the building from a traditional timber design to a modern and cosy space. A common question we get asked is whether wallpaper can use used inside.
A summerhouse has become so much more than somewhere to sit and enjoy the sun during the warmer months. When designed in a suitable way, a summerhouse can allow for a huge range of activities to be enjoyed inside. We see many great examples where summerhouses have been used for bars, cinema rooms, garden offices and workshops.
The key to making the most of a summerhouse is choosing a design that works for how the building will be used. For example, most garden offices will use a contemporary and clean design, whereas a garden pub may go for a rustic theme. Decorating the interior is just as important as the exterior when it comes to transforming a garden building.
The interior decoration of a summerhouse needs to be robust and durable enough to look great during the winter and summer months and stay that way for years to come. The options available will depend on the structure of the summerhouse and whether the building contains a single skin wall or uses insulation.
Can you wallpaper a summerhouse?
Unfortunately, it’s not advisable to wallpaper a summerhouse as it’s unlikely to last very long. A summerhouse is not constructed to the same standard as a residential building and wallpaper is going to lead to issues within the first year.
The challenge with garden buildings is that they are susceptible to a much broader range of weather conditions compared to the interior of a house. During the winter, the temperature inside a summerhouse can reach freezing point, and during the summer in direct sunlight, the temperature can be sweltering. At the same time, humidity levels throughout the year can change, with a summerhouse experiencing high levels of humidity as moisture builds up during the winter.
Just like any wood, the timber in a summerhouse structure is porous and will absorb moisture from the air around it. When the timber takes on moisture (when humidity is high) the wood will expand, and when it releases moisture again, the timber will shrink.
The result is tiny movements throughout the year that will stretch and loosen the wallpaper on the wall, causing it to peel away.
The wallpaper itself can also hold onto moisture, allowing dampness to form on the surface in the winter and resulting in black mould. This is common when wallpaper is used in other damp locations such as a bathroom. Instead, the interior of a summerhouse should be treated with a product that will prevent dampness and provide durability throughout the year.
A final challenge is the pattern & shape of the walls in a summerhouse interior. For wallpaper to stick, the surface should be flat and smooth. As summerhouses commonly use tongue & groove wooden panelling, the surface is rough and also contains indents where the wood slots together.
Alternatives to summerhouse wallpaper
Despite wallpaper not being suitable, there are still plenty of great ways to decorate a summerhouse or log cabin. Paint is the primary choice for walls, and the type required will depend on whether the garden building is insulated.
Single skin summerhouse
Most summerhouses will feature a single skin wall where the same piece of wood faces both the interior and exterior. For single skin summerhouses, we recommend using an exterior garden building paint.
Even on the interior, the wood is still exposed to the elements throughout the year, without any additional heating or insulation to keep the interior protected. During the colder months, moisture can work its way through from the exterior and so the interior side of the wood needs a layer of protection.
Exterior garden building paint also provides protection against damp and fungal growth to protect the wood. The interior should look great all year round and be hardwearing against any scuffs.
The same paint used on the exterior walls can be used as well on the interior. While we always recommend premium brands for the exterior, you may choose to use a lower-cost option on the interior and it will still provide sufficient protection.
Insulated walls and ceilings provide increased flexibility when choosing how to decorate a summerhouse. We still wouldn’t recommend wallpaper, due to lining the interior with wood, but it would likely last for longer.
An insulated summerhouse should also contain a vapour barrier in the walls. This vital layer stops moisture from penetrating into walls and building up to form damp. Above the insulation, the interior of the summerhouse will be lined with plywood, OSB or a similar material.
As the interior summerhouse walls are completely separate from the exterior walls and contain a vapour barrier, any paint choice can be used. The same garden building paint as the exterior could be used to continue the theme indoors.
Whether emulsion paint is suitable is a common question we get asked. Emulsion looks great in summerhouse garden offices and cinema rooms, where a modern clean design is required. When the walls are fully insulated, an emulsion is fine. The interior wood lining will require several coats as most of the first coat is absorbed into the wood.
Guide: How to build a bar in a summerhouse
Summerhouse decoration without wallpaper
Wallpaper allows for many designs and patterns that it would not be possible to create with paint alone. As we can’t use wallpaper, some alternative methods are needed to turn a summerhouse interior into a cosy and exciting environment.
Framed pictures – A quick fix to boring interior walls is to hang some pictures. Loads of great pictures are available online and we have some in our own summerhouse. The picture can be screwed or nailed to the summerhouse wall at the points of the wooden framing.
Wall decals – Decals are easy to add patterns and shapes to an existing wall. Unlike wallpaper, wall decals are made from a plastic material that is much more durable to changing conditions. As a decal only covers small parts of the wall, it’s less likely to peel off.
Shelves – A shelf can serve two purposes in a summerhouse. Firstly, they can create a useful location to store items when there is not much space. Secondly, they look great and can bring a wall to life with the right items placed on top.
Masking tape – Depending on how good your art skills are, a trend in recent years has been to use masking tape to paint shapes onto walls. The designs can be bold and add shapes and colours to an otherwise plain wall.
Interior wood lining – Even if you don’t want to insulate a summerhouse, the interior can still be lined with wooden boards. Patterned boards make a great option and look great once painted. Tongue & groove or shiplap make a great choice.
Guide: How to stop mould in a summerhouse
Overall, we don’t recommend using wallpaper in a summerhouse or log cabin. Due to the nature of wooden garden buildings, it’s unlikely to last very long. The interior of a summerhouse is exposed to the changing weather conditions throughout the year much more than the interior of a residential house. Frequent changes in moisture levels and temperatures will soon see the wallpaper peeling away or damp occurring.
Using a garden building paint on the interior a summerhouse is going to provide protection for the walls and match the exterior. If the summerhouse has been insulated, it’s possible to use interior paints such as emulsion. Just make sure a vapour barrier is in place.
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