Wallpapers provide an easy way to dress up a room, creating your chosen ambiance. Still, they perform differently based on your home setting.
For instance, some materials peel away in rooms with high humidity. Others excel at fending off tears by active kids and pets.
Thus, you need to know the best products for a given room and those using it. Otherwise, the wallpaper you pick can have a fleeting lifespan, needing replacement in a few years.
In this post, you’ll meet 10 different types of wallpaper. Designs are countless! They come in a broad range of materials, both synthetic and natural.
You’ll have fun learning about each one and viewing sample photos. By the end of this blog, you’ll be ready to shop, choosing the ideal wallpaper for your needs.
1. Paper Wallpaper
As the traditional material, paper has a classic matte look. Its manufacture involves only natural components, including the required paste. Thus, paper wallpaper is non-allergenic.
Moreover, it comes in an infinite array of designs and hues, matching any decor. It’s also affordable.
You don’t need special skills and experience to hang this wallpaper. Two amateurs can finish a mid-sized room in five to six hours.
Over time, direct sunlight bleaches paper wallpaper. So, if you move your furniture, you’ll see fainter versions of the original colors and patterns.
In humid rooms, the wallpaper can peel away. Thus, avoid installation in a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room.
Paper wallpaper has two kinds of construction:
- Single-layer or “simplex” – least durable.
- Dual-layer or “duplex” – stronger, less prone to tearing and attracting dirt.
Still, you can extend the longevity of paper wallpaper. First, only consider it for rooms with low humidity.
Then, buy duplex paper treated with a moisture-resistant coating. This treatment improves wallpaper durability. The film also provides better insulation against cold and noise than simplex brands.
2. Vinyl Wallpaper
Compared to all other wallpapers, vinyl is the king of durability! It defies ripping and scratches by kids and pets. Plus, it’s a cinch to install.
Since you can wash vinyl wallpaper, it’s easy to maintain. In a room spared of direct sun, it can last up to 15 years. Furthermore, vinyl wallpaper is a fantastic value.
Still, this material doesn’t breathe. Hence, it can trap moisture against a wall, luring mildew and mold.
Moreover, harsh sunlight can loosen the seams of vinyl wallpaper and fade its colors. In turn, the product will have a short lifespan, possibly reduced to six years.
Another name for vinyl is PVC. As a type of plastic, PVC emits “volatile organic compounds” or VOCs. Furthermore, cheap vinyl wallpapers have formaldehyde.
Over time, exposure to formaldehyde and VOCs can worsen our cancer risk. Meanwhile, PVC takes eons to decompose. To avoid these hazards, buy wallpaper bearing an environmental safety label.
This wallpaper is 100 percent vinyl, the sturdiest option. It boldly fends off tears and scuffs, and you can scrub it down with water.
Thus, consider solid vinyl wallpaper for a playroom, den, living room, and bedroom. Styles are limitless, ranging from whimsical to elegant.
Textures vary, too. You’ll find it in luxurious silk, embossed fabric, and cheaper-looking plastic.
Here, paper forms the base, coated with a chemical form of vinyl, such as acrylic.
Compared to solid vinyl wallpaper, it’s more susceptible to tearing and scratches. Still, it stands up well to washing.
This vinyl wallpaper is layered over thick, woven fabric versus paper. Fabric-backed vinyl can take a beating, resisting stains and impact.
3. Non-Woven Wallpaper
Natural and synthetic fibers comprise this wallpaper. Although non-woven, it’s more flexible and durable than paper wallpaper. It comes in a wide spectrum of fashionable designs, including embossing.
Note that non-woven wallpaper breathes! Thus, you can wash it without the risk of mold or mildew growing behind it. As such, it complements rooms that often get steamy, such as your kitchen and bathroom.
Since this product is tear-resistant, it suits areas where pets and young children play. Meanwhile, non-woven wallpaper resists fire and curbs heat loss.
Should you wish to remove it, the material readily peels away. Some types you can move to another room, all in one piece!
Non-woven wallpaper is a high-end product, pricier than other types. Although numerous patterns exist, color options are fewer, especially bright hues. Still, you can be more selective with color tone, such as lighter and darker versions.
You can buy non-woven wallpaper in single, double, or triple layers. The outer surface is decorative, made of acrylic, vinyl, paper, or other textiles.
Although non-woven wallpaper requires adhesive, it goes directly on the wall. Then, without pre-soaking, you affix the wallpaper. This simple installation method is called “paste-the-wall.”
4. Bamboo Wallpaper
Another natural option is bamboo wallpaper, made of thin slats glued to woven fabric. Manufacturers showcase the inborn colors of bamboo stems rather than using dyes.
Moreover, bamboo is sustainable! Since it grows speedily, harvesting occurs every five years, a relatively short time frame. Thus, production takes fewer resources, leaving a lighter carbon footprint.
As a wall covering, bamboo can make your home comfier by reducing noise and heat loss. Do your existing walls have cosmetic flaws? If so, bamboo wallpaper will conceal them.
Plus, you can hang the material in sun-filled rooms, assured that it won’t fade. In turn, bamboo wallpaper can last a decade.
Avoid installing bamboo wallpaper in rooms where you prepare and eat food. Since you can’t wash it, any spills will leave permanent stains.
Additionally, this product doesn’t like humidity. Hence, bamboo wallpaper is a poor fit for bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Bamboo wallpaper comes from the inner or outer parts of bamboo stalks.
Products made from the inner stems are smooth and neutral-colored. Those fashioned from the outer stalks have more texture and warmer hues. Among the rich colors are honey, rust, pistachio, chocolate, and golden brown.
Installing bamboo wallpaper is tricky. It takes skill to handle the delicate strips.
Are you a whiz at wallpapering? In that case, see this particular post on hanging bamboo wallpaper. Additionally, here are tips for cutting bamboo panels with a circular chop saw.
Or are you new to wallpaper installation? If so, I recommend hiring a professional.
5. Mylar Wallpaper
This vibrant wall covering has a base of printed paper or vinyl, treated with a polyester coating.
Mylar wallpaper can display a jazzy shine or a brilliant glow emanating from a wall.
The metallic film is tear-resistant and washable. To clean it, use warm water, mild soap, and a natural sponge. Then, blot the surface with a dry cloth. For stains, dab the spots with rubbing alcohol.
Most homeowners use Mylar wallpaper in their kitchens and bathrooms.
Even so, Mylar film warps when exposed to heavy condensation. Thus, if you opt to hang it in a humid room, keep the area well-ventilated.
Mylar wallpaper draws attention to wall defects such as pitting, bumps, and cracks, making them eyesores.
Thus, it’s best for smooth surfaces. To camouflage wall imperfections, apply a paper liner first. I’ll explain how to do this shortly.
Additionally, since the polyester film creases readily, it requires gentle handling. For further tips on hanging Mylar wallpaper, see this brief video.
Mylar wallpaper isn’t fireproof, burning if exposed to flames. Thus, avoid installing it near a stove or other fire source.
Also, since Mylar conducts electricity, it can jolt you when cutting the material around electrical outlets and wall switches. So, when fitting the wallpaper to these areas, use extra caution.
6. Foil Wallpaper
On this metallic wall covering, the decorative layer is a thin sheet of laminated aluminum foil.
As with Mylar, foil wallpaper has a radiant aura. If you hang it in a small room, the foil visually expands the space, making it seem larger.
Furthermore, foil wallpaper deflects the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, preventing color fading.
Meanwhile, you can readily clean the material using a soft, damp cloth. Although fire burns Mylar film, laminated aluminum foil stays intact.
Since foil wallpaper doesn’t breathe, moisture can build behind it, drawing mold and mildew. Moreover, any incidental scratches will be permanent.
Like Mylar, foil wallpaper poses installation challenges. During handling, it’s prone to tearing and wrinkling. It also accentuates wall imperfections, making it best for smooth surfaces.
Lastly, since metallic wallpapers are glamorous, they cost more than other materials.
Foil wallpaper comes in three backings – fabric, fiberglass, and paper.
Fabric is the sturdiest base, bolstering foil durability. Therefore, use this type to hide wall irregularities.
Fiberglass is more delicate than fabric, needing gentler handling.
Paper is the most fragile base for aluminum foil. So, reserve it for walls in prime condition.
Ideally, buy a brand with a polyester sheet between the paper and aluminum foil. This barrier protects the foil from water in the adhesive. Also, before installing paper-backed foil, hang liner wallpaper.
Aluminum foil conducts electricity, posing a risk of shocks during installation. So, use caution when cutting the foil around switches and outlets.
7. Liner Wallpaper
So, as we discussed above, liner wallpaper fosters level surfaces and fortifies delicate wall coverings. Also called lining paper, it makes wallpaper less prone to peeling.
Meanwhile, the extra layer of material traps sound waves, muffling noise. Furthermore, it prevents energy transfer. As such, it can lower your heating and cooling costs!
Lining paper is wider than standard wallpaper. It’s fabricated in two ways, conventional and paste-the-wall.
Here, the barrier is plain paper. When adhesive touches it, the material turns wet, expanding. Then, as the paper dries, it shrinks. Thus, a conventional liner needs preparation, promoting stability.
To achieve this, you soak the paper with adhesive for the manufacturer’s specified time. Without this essential step, the wallpaper will bubble, wrinkle, and lift at the seams.
This liner paper is reinforced with textile fibers. Since the fibers brace the paper, it doesn’t react to glue by expanding or shrinking. In turn, there’s no risk of bubbles or seam separation.
So, with a paste-the-wall liner, you put the adhesive directly on a wall, followed by pressing your wallpaper against it.
What to Pick
Paste-the-wall liners are easier and more efficient to use. Still, if you’ve been hanging wallpaper for years, you’re proficient in applying conventional lining paper.
So, pick a liner based on your experience and how much time you can invest in a wallpaper project.
After choosing a liner, consider the best grade or thickness for a given wall. Grades run from 800 to 2000, thinnest to sturdiest. For a markedly uneven wall, choose a high rating.
Note – After hanging a liner, make sure it’s completely dry before affixing your wallpaper.
8. Peel-And-Stick Wallpaper
Would you like the flexibility of future wall makeovers with little effort? If so, consider peel-and-stick material.
You can remove and rehang it in a new location for some types (not all brands support this though).
This wallpaper comes with a self-adhesive backing, sparing the use of glue and water. Just pull off the base sheet by degrees, pressing the sticky side on your wall.
While installation is simple, you still need to prepare the wall, ensuring a smooth surface.
This entails cleaning the wall, drying it, and applying a wallpaper primer. Without these steps, permanent air bubbles are likely. The primer also facilitates wallpaper removal.
Meanwhile, peel-and-stick wallpaper is durable. Thus, it can handle scuffs from young kids and pets without suffering damage.
Still, this self-adhesive product doesn’t breathe and isn’t waterproof. So, avoid using it in rooms subject to high humidity. Otherwise, it can separate from the wall.
Most peel-and-stick wallpapers are vinyl. They’re sold in various finishes, both shiny and matte.
Currently, a few retailers offer peel-and-stick in PVC-free materials. As consumers become more eco-conscious, demand for them will increase, fostering greater production.
9. Non-Pasted Wallpaper
Since this wall covering has no adhesive, you apply paste to it, typically with “paste-the-paper” installation.
This technique is often used for high-end wallpapers and those comprised of cotton, paper, or vinyl.
These products can absorb moisture when pasted, expanding. In turn, if you hang them immediately, they bubble and crease.
To avoid these glitches, you paste the paper, then allow it to rest, a step called “booking.” This entails folding the pasted wallpaper on itself, preventing it from drying out. Meanwhile, the glue is “activating,” penetrating the wall covering.
Generally, booking takes only 10 minutes. Still, follow the timeline of the wallpaper manufacturer. After booking, you proceed to hang the wallpaper.
So, installing non-pasted wallpaper takes more prep than peel-and-stick. Even so, non-pasted wall coverings tend to last longer.
Furthermore, with some brands, you can use the paste-the-wall technique. It depends on the method of manufacture.
Using a 3/8-inch nap roller, spread the adhesive on the paper evenly, paying close attention to the edges. Otherwise, the seams will open while drying.
For booking, lay the first wallpaper strip on a flat surface, pattern-side down. Next, holding the wallpaper gently, fold the ends of the sheet back towards the middle.
Ensure that the pasted sides rest on each other without creasing. Then, leave the wallpaper strip in this position for the specified booking time.
Before you paste the next sheet, clean up any excess glue.
10. Pre-Pasted Wallpaper
This product has invisible glue on the back, activated by adding water. One way is by spraying the backing with a water bottle.
Or, you can dunk each strip in a water-filled tray. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for whether to book the wallpaper.
Thus, with pre-pasted wall coverings, you don’t need to buy or mix any glue. In turn, they take slightly less preparation than non-pasted kinds.
Still, you should follow the product directions carefully. You want to wet each strip enough to activate the glue without making the paper soggy.
Also, avoid over-wetting the adhesive. Otherwise, it gets too diluted, losing its sticking power.
Pre-pasted wall coverings have a shorter lifespan than non-pasted. Since they tend to peel with time, you’ll likely need to re-paper a given room sooner.
You’ll find pre-pasted products in vinyl-coated, solid vinyl, and non-woven rolls. For an installation demo, see this brief video.
General Pros & Cons
So, now you’re acquainted with a broad selection of wallpapers! Let’s review their merits and minuses, helping you pick the best options for your home.
Vinyl and non-woven wallpapers are the most enduring, defying rips and scuffs. Thus, they can handle the romping of energetic children and playful pets.
Paper wallpaper is the least robust, especially the single-layer type. A hardier choice is duplex paper with a moisture-resistant coating.
Many wallpapers cannot withstand harsh sunlight long-term. Consequently, their colors, seams, and patterns weaken, cutting their lifespan to six years. Materials most prone to UV degradation are paper and vinyl.
Still, bamboo and foil wallpapers can weather intense sun. In turn, they can give you stellar service for 10 to 15 years.
Bamboo is a renewable resource. So is paper, derived from trees. Hence paper and bamboo wallpapers are eco-friendly!
In the future, would you like the option of quick wall makeovers? If so, consider non-woven and peel-and-stick wall coverings. You can easily remove and rehang them.
Few wallpapers can stand up to steam and condensation. Those most likely to detach in humid rooms are paper, vinyl, bamboo, Mylar, foil, and peel-and-stick.
However, there’s one champion! Non-woven wallpaper breathes. Therefore, it’s the optimal choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
Four wallpapers take well to washing, namely vinyl, non-woven, Mylar, and foil.
Wallpapers have character! They can boost your spirits through their patterns, textures, finishes, colors, and designs.
In a child’s room, wallpaper can tell a story, prompting smiles. In your bedroom, a serene design can usher restful, dreamy sleep.
Wallpapers can also display exquisite beauty and posh luxury. They can even simulate a vacation scene, such as a tropical island.
So, based on the above benefits, you can feel great about using wallpaper.
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