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Vinyl Wall Covering

 Vinyl wall covering has grown in popularity for both residential and commercial interiors, and is today a design tool of choice for interior designers, architects and other specifiers. The reasons for vinyl's growth are both aesthetic and practical - vinyl wall covering offers a wide range of finishes and colors with enhanced durability. This section will address various design, specification and environmental considerations to take into account when specifying vinyl wall covering, as well as resources available to designers interested in learning more.


Recyclability and disposal issues. Vinyl wallcoverings have a long useful life. As such, they compose a very small fraction of the materials that are disposed in landfills each year. In addition, most vinyl wallcovering manufacturers are actively recycling to minimize waste related to the manufacture of the product. Due to conditions in landfills, studies have shown that most materials - including wallpapers - do not biodegrade when discarded. Although the conventional assumption is that biodegradability in a landfill is an environmental benefit, it actually could pose a threat to the environment. When materials biodegrade, they can release chemicals into the landfill that potentially can reach the groundwater. Vinyl is so stable in landfills that vinyl membranes have been used as landfill liners.

Energy efficiency. Compared to other plastics, the production of vinyl requires far less of the world's limited fossil fuel resources. The energy required to manufacture vinyl wallcoverings is only half as much as the amount needed to produce the same amount of paper wallcoverings.

Indoor air quality. Vinyl wallcoverings have a relatively low potential for odors or emissions and have not been identified as a source of "sick building syndrome." In fact, studies show considerably higher levels of volatile organic compounds  from paint than from vinyl wallcoverings. Painting a room with oil- and/or solvent-based paints can result in emissions of approximately nine times the amount of VOCs released by vinyl wallcoverings that incorporate water-based adhesives and inks. Tests have shown that the initial odor in vinyl wallcoverings, attributed to stabilizers and plasticizers used in the manufacturing process, will dissipate much faster than the odors of most paints.



Pay Attention to the Pattern
The pattern of the wallpaper determines the effect created. A pattern is basically how the print on the wallpaper runs.
  • Horizontal patterns make a room seem wider. In some homes the ceiling and walls may not be perfectly squared. To make this less obvious, avoid horizontal striped patterns.

  • Vertical patterns make the ceiling in a room seem higher. In some homes, the walls are not square or perfectly vertical. To make this less obvious, avoid vertical striped patterns.

  • Drop patterns repeat diagonally across the strip and require additional paper to match up. A drop pattern is a good choice if your room isn't perfectly squared.
To Pre-paste or Not to Pre-paste
Wallpaper manufacturers have improved the wallpaper hanging process by creating
three different types of wallpaper:
  • Pre-pasted wallpaper is pre-coated with adhesive. Water or a manufactured activator
     is used to activate the paste.

  • Self-adhesive wallpaper requires no paste, water or activator . You simply peel the backing
     off and stick the paper in place.

  • Non-pasted wallpaper has no pre-paste or adhesive. This wallpaper is sometimes referred to as "dryback" wallpaper. Adhesive/paste is required for hanging. Use the wallpaper adhesive specified by the manufacturer.

How Easy Is It to Remove?
One major thing to keep in mind is the possibility of removing your wallpaper. Most pre-pasted and self-adhesive wallpaper is either strippable or peelable. Non-pasted wallpaper is the most difficult to remove.
  • Strippable wallpaper can easily be removed without water or chemicals. Simply start at a corner
     of the paper and gently pull it away from the wall.

  • Peelable wallpaper is removed in a similar fashion to strippable paper. Usually, a thin layer of paper remains on the wall. Remove the paper using soap and water.

    Horizontal pattern          Vertical pattern                  Drop pattern
Questions to Ask
Picking out wallpaper is more than just color and print. Always read the label carefully to determine the wallpaper material, how to hang, and the level of care required. The following is a list of terms to look for on a manufacturer's label. The terms will help you narrow down the vast selection available.

Is the wallpaper:

  • Stain-resistant? Good for kitchens, hallways and children's rooms.

    Scrubbable? Good for children's rooms and hallways.

    Moisture-resistant? Good for bathrooms.
  • Prepasted? No paste needed. Just water.
  • Self-adhesive? No supplies needed for preparation.
  • Removable or Strippable? Good for when you change your mind.

    Textured? Hides ugly wall imperfections.