A practical guide.
Wallpaper (also known as wallcoverings) can come in different forms. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
As a leading Bangladesh interior designer we have seen that often design clients get confused by the different types, and don’t know which to use in their projects.
Which is why we are publishing this guide on the types of wallpaper and wallcoverings, to give you a working idea of the different kinds of wallpaper and wallcoverings, and help you choose.
Types of wallpaper and wallcoverings – an overview
- First we will go over the various kinds of wallpaper and wallcoverings there are.
- Basically, they can be subdivided into paper, non-woven, vinyl, and natural grasscloth types based on the content.
- They can be of preplasted and peel and stick types depending on what kind of glue there is, to stick them on walls.
- And then we will look at the points you need to discuss with your chosen interior designer to select a wallpaper type for your space.
Let me take a moment and ask you: what do YOU think paper wallpaper is?
If you haven’t figured it out…paper wallpaper is simply the O.G. – wallpaper that is 100% paper. Or, to be more clear, it’s wallpaper that has one or more layers of paper. The upper layer can be printed, coated, or ‘structured’.
Paper wallpaper can be made of:
- Simplex paper: where only one side of the paper is printed.
- Duplex paper: where both sides of paper are printed.
- Woodchip paper: where wood chips are embedded in paper to give it texture.
Those are the most popular types.
Finally, paper wallpaper is rarely used on its own. Instead, it is used as a base to which various coatings can be added.
N.B. Adding layers and coating to basic paper is one of the ways various other types such as non-woven and vinyl (both of which we shall look at) are created.
Non-woven wallpaper refers to wallpaper that has been created by mixing natural and synthetic plant fibres. Sometimes they are made with vinyl, instead of synthetic plant fibres.
Usually, it also includes binders and additional pigments to add strength and colour.
You might say it’s a middle ground between paper wallpaper (that we just looked at) and fully vinyl wallpaper. It usually tends to be more durable, flexible and breathable than paper wallpaper.
If you install it on a freshly prepared surface, it will go out in long flowing sheets. Please note it will require glue to be held in place.
Vinyl is a strong plastic that is used for making things like furniture coverings, flooring, food wraps, signs and so on. It’s commonly used as a leather substitute.
There are three main kinds of vinyl wallpaper.
Vinyl coated wallpaper
As the name suggests, this is wallpaper that’s create by spraying or coating a paper base with vinyl (either acrylic type or PVC).
It’s a step up (in terms of strength and durability) from non-woven wallpaper, but it has less vinyl content than what is called ‘solid vinyl’ paper (which we shall look at right now).
Aesthetics-wise, such wallpaper tends to have a subtle shine.
‘Solid’ vinyl wallpaper
By ‘solid vinyl’, it implies that the vinyl is ‘solid’ (that is, laminated onto a paper or fabric base) and not liquid.
As you can guess, this makes it very strong. It’s suitable for washing and scrubbing, and it doesn’t scratch easily. This is why you can find this kind of wallpaper in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Solid vinyl is relatively easy to produce, which means it tends to be affordable. However, that doesn’t mean it looks cheap. Many kinds of solid vinyl wallpaper can have rich shades and intricate designs that would give your rooms a premium look.
Fabric backed vinyl wallpaper
Fabric backed vinyl wallpaper makes for a high quality, strong wall covering that can stand the test of time.
Combining the strength of vinyl and heavy duty fabrics, it is literally the strongest kind of wallpaper there is. Which is why you’ll commonly see it at most commercial and industrial settings, like hotels, office buildings, event venues, and even airports.
On the other hand, many people also like to have this in their homes, due to its strength and resistance to wear and tear.
Natural grasscloth/Sisal wallpaper
Wallcoverings made from strands of natural fibres (like jute, hemp, bamboo and so on) woven together on a paper backing.
You can think of this as a ‘green’ alternative to non-woven and vinyl wallcoverings. It can give your space a grassy and earthy look and fragrance.
There are grasscloth wallpapers that use synthetic fibres instead, but they won’t give off the fragrance that natural grasscloth paper will.
N.B. Natural grasscloth wallcoverings have visible seams, which means you’ll have multiple ‘lines’ on your walls when it’s installed. It’s part and parcel of the look. If you are particular about a smooth, uncreased look for your walls, don’t go for grasscloth wallpaper.
Organic textured wallcoverings
These are made from all-natural fibres, with many kinds of raw materials like cork and wood.
While these wallpapers are beautiful, green and eco-friendly, they are also very delicate. So, go for them only in rooms where wear and tear is low.
If you had to guess, what would you say ‘prepasted wallpaper’ is?
If you guessed that this comes with glue embedded on the back, you’re spot on!
Relax, that doesn’t mean it’s sticky or anything. You won’t even feel the glue, as it’s chemically made inactive.
To work with the paper, you need to sprinkle water on the back to activate the glue.
And you should also know that paper, non-woven, and vinyl wallcoverings can be preplasted.
Peel and stick wallpaper
This also has glue embedded on its back. However the difference with prepasted paper is that you don’t need to ‘activate’ the glue by sprinkling water.
All you need to do is peel off a thin plastic from the back, and you’re good to go.
This kind of wallpaper can be easily taken down when required, and also re-used.
Things to discuss with your interior designer when choosing a wallpaper
Here are the important things to discuss.
- What kind of wear and tear you expect.
- Will you want to take it down and replace it by yourself.
- What kind of look and ambience you want for the room.
- The budget.
To better use wallpapers, refer to the following posts:
- Go through the 2022 interior design trends blog post to find which design trends are
- Check out the home cleaning tips post to know how to clean your rooms well after decorating them with wallpaper.
- And if you’re using wallpaper as party decor, here are some other home decor ideas for parties.
Finally, if you found this post useful, consider bookmarking the best interior design blog in Bangladesh.