Wall Coverings - Understand the Different Types of Wall Paper and Wall Coverings That Can be Used

Summary: Find out about the different types of wall coverings and wall papers that can be used at home. Learn the about the wall papers, flock and vinyl wall coverings. Understand the benefits and when you can use these different wall coverings.

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On a basic level, there are two types of wall covering:

  • Those with a surface material or printed design
  • Those with a textured or embossed surface. These types of covering are usually designed to be painted over after they have been applied to the wall.

Printed Paper

This is exactly what it says on the tin - Paper with a printed design that in some cases can be slightly textured or embossed following the same lines as the design or it may even have a surface texture applied during its manufacture. Cheaper variations of this may be rather difficult to hang as they are prone to tearing and stretching.

The more expensive types, including hand printed, are a lot better in this respect, but you have to be careful during the hanging process to avoid getting paste on the face of the paper. Largely regarded as the strongest printed wallpaper are the Duplex variations as they are made using 2 bonded sheets of paper.

All of these types can be wiped clean and are also quite easy to strip if needed.

Washable Wallpaper

This type of paper is similar to Printed Paper but has a thin clear plastic coat applied to it during manufacture. This then makes it water and stain resistant. The plastic coating can withstand sponging and washing (gentle rubbing but not scrubbing or use of abrasives).

As with printed wallpapers, these can also be textured or embossed. These paper types are ideal for steamy conditions such as bathrooms or kitchens.

The main drawback with this type of paper is that it is rather difficult to remove due to the plastic coating preventing water penetrating and softening the paste. However, scoring or marking the paper can aid with this.

Vinyl Wall Coverings

This form of paper consists of a plastic film onto which the design is printed . As with the other paper types this can also be textured or embossed and in some cases a metallic effect (Vinyl Foils).

The combination of this creates a wall covering that is much tougher and hard wearing than a washable paper. Stains and marks can be scrubbed and removed, only if the paper is hung correctly in that you have to be careful not to lift the seams through over soaking.

Many of these papers come ready pasted and due to their plastic layer are extremely easy to strip, leaving the paper backing on the wall.

Ideal applications include hallways, landings, children's rooms and staircases and any areas that are prone to brushing and scraping due to their hardwearing nature.

Due to the above advantages, these paper types tend to be much more expensive than the first two types.

Foamed Vinyl Wall Coverings

The main characteristic of these paper types are that their surfaces are aerated with tiny bubbles to produce a slightly cushioned feel.

They may also feature heavy textures or embossing of the surface that in some cases imitate materials like wood grain. These paper types are also warm to the touch thanks to the insulation effect created by the air bubbles, which also makes them an ideal choice for spaces that are prone to condensation.

Flock Wall Coverings

These paper types are generally either printed papers or more of a vinyl that feature a very characteristic raised pile effect, generally made of fine wool or silk fibres on paper types and generally synthetic fibres on vinyl types. This very closely resembles a velvet texture to the touch.

The paper types have to be hung with great care as they are rather delicate, but the vinyl types are extremely tough and hardwearing and need slightly less care.

Foamed Polythene

This type is very distinctive in that it does not feature a paper backing. Instead, to hang this type of paper, firstly you paste the wall and then apply the covering to it, brushing the covering into position as required.

The lack of backing makes this paper very light and also means that the surface can be washed, but it is rather fragile so rough scrubbing is to be avoided.

Removing the covering is also rather easy as it can simply be dry stripped from the wall.

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