Wallpaper is a material used to decorate the interior walls of rooms.

Have a look at our Buyer's Guide to help you make a more informed choice.

Introduction

Wallpaper is decorative paper for the walls of a room. There are a variety of wallpaper in the market today and range from plain textured style to fancy digitally-printed paper coated with a layer of vinyl to provide durability. 

Wallpaper is made in long rolls which are hung vertically on a wall. They are designed such that the pattern from each roll is repeated and can be hung next to each other without joins between rolls been easily spotted.

Types

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TypeDescriptionProsConsCost(Avg)Idea For
Vinyl Wallpaper PVC Wallpaper

Vinyl wallpaper consists of a base and a vinyl film that is layered on top. This creates a durable wallpaper that is thick, washable and long-lasting.

There are four types of vinyl wallpaper to choose from:

  • Vinyl coated: This type is made of paper, but is coated with vinyl to make it easier to clean. It’s also easier to remove than solid vinyl.
  • Paper-backed vinyl: Paper is attached to the back of a solid vinyl wallpaper, making it thicker, but still resistant to moisture and stains. Wallpaper from Korea are typically in this category.
  • Solid vinyl - Is made completely of vinyl. This is the option that most people think about when they're searching for vinyl wallpaper. It's scratch and tear resistant and able to be scrubbed with a lot of water. This option is best suited for a child’s room, kitchens (especially backsplashes) and bathrooms. Downside is that it can look cheap and plastic looking.
  • Fabric backed vinyl -  will have a sheet of fabric attached to the back of the solid vinyl. This makes it best suited for areas with high foot traffic. Fabric backed vinyl wallpaper is further categorized in two groups:
    • Type I / Light duty fabric backed vinyl wallpaper - This is the common type used in residential spaces.
    • Type II /Medium to heavy duty fabric backed vinyl wallpaper  - This type of wallpaper is used in commercial spaces, however, many people also use it in their homes due to it’s durability.
  • Durable, easy to clean and maintain
  • Scratch protection and can be applied to various surfaces of walls.
  • Poor quality vinyl may have “plastic smell”

$260 (including installation)

Quick Estimate
  • Living Room
  • Bed Room
Flock Wallpaper

This unique wallpaper resembles velvet and can be designed such that it creates a retro look. 

However, it is not washable and could be hard to remove.

  • Add elegant and classic feel
  • Difficult to maintain (cannot be washed)
  • Bed Room
Mylar Wallpaper

This type of wallpaper is printed on a paper backing and a polyester film is then applied on top of the decorative design. Because of this, the wallpaper has a wet or shiny appearance similar to a foil wallpaper.

  • Shiny surfaces gives a unique look
  • Walls must be fairly smooth and in good condition before hanging wallpaper
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
Non-Woven Wallpaper

Non-woven wallpaper is a completely vinyl free option whose backing is made of a mixture of synthetic and natural fibres, combined with binders and reinforced with acrylates and usually blended with extra pigments to ensure opacity.

It does not tear easily, and it comes off the wall in one long strip.

  • Easy to install and remove from wall
  • Have excellent heat and sound insulation
  • Breathable backing hence lesser chance of mildew or mould growth.
  • More expensive than other options
  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Living Room

Buying Considerations

  • Types of wallpaper offered - This does not refer to the print nor the pattern of the wallpaper, but the different materials the wallpaper is made out of. While Vinyl based wallpapers are the most common, they’re not necessarily the best for a room. Hence it is important to find a vendor which carries a variety of types to help suit the needs of a room.
  • Get more samples before committing- Since wallpapers are produced in small quantities they are non-refundable. Even if you are sure of your choice and have checked on different samples, it’s not bad to look some more before making a final commitment. Many companies will provide big samples so consider asking for more even if it means paying for them. You can then try them out on your wall to get an idea how they look like before choosing one.
  • Take care of the wallpaper repeatability - Wallpaper comes in rolls with specific sizes and will bound to have a repeat pattern when the wall is larger than a roll of wallpaper.  Wallpaper will have both a horizontal repeat and a vertical repeat. If the wall’s height is taller,shorter or longer than a chosen roll of wallpaper, the pattern will be cut partially. Depending on the chosen pattern, the end result might or might not be acceptable. So when choosing a vendor, it is important that they’re upfront about this and protectively recommend patterns and show you the end results.
  • Colour fastness - This characterises a material's colour's resistance to fading. Having good fastness means lesser chances of color fading. For wallpaper, color fastness to light is critical. When selecting a vendor, make sure they’re open about the wallpaper they’re selling and they’re asking questions of window location to help you identify the right wallpaper.
  • Availability of wallpaper design after purchase - Most vendors buy directly from manufacturers and keep a lean supply locally. Hence before the purchase is done, this should be clarified. What to do when the supply ends? Or there is a need to buy additional rolls?
  • Toxicity - Wallpaper have different manufacturers and is important to make sure they don't contain harmful materials.  This ensures that your family are not exposed to toxic chemicals which are usually present in traditional wallpapers, all of which may have harmful health effects. Make sure to look for wallpapers that are:
    • Low-VOC or No-VOC
    • PVC-free wallpaper (e.g. Non-Woven Wallpaper)
    • Free from phthalate plasticizers, will not leak formaldehyde, lead, or other heavy metals
    • Not made with brominated flame retardants (while maintaining a class A fire rating)
  • Warranty - Wallpaper typically has a limited warranty of 6 ~ 12 months for workmanship (jointlines and peeling) and colour fastness. Issues resulting from water seepage or poor base coat paint on wall are usually not covered under warranty. It is thus important to make sure that the vendor does an assessment of the base coat paint on wall and accept that it is not poor quality which will breach the warranty.

FAQ

Technical Terms

  1. Light fastness - Light fastness is simply the degree to which your wallpaper will keep its colour in sunlight.  Naturally any wallpaper and even some material if exposed to direct sunlight over a few years will lose colour.  Light fastness gives you an idea of which wallpaper will last longer in areas of higher sun concentration and which are best used on walls and in rooms with less direct sunlight. Usually rated as moderate, satisfactory, good and very good.  For a wall that receives a lot of natural sunlight, such as one that surrounds a window pane, you should be looking for a wallpaper that has a high light fastness rating.
  2. Centering - Using the most dominant part of a wallpaper pattern to draw the eye to a focal point, like the fireplace or piano.
  3. Color Change - When manufacturers change the colors used for a particular pattern; the pattern remains the same, but the colors will be slightly different from the previous run.
  4. Color Run - The amount of a particular color and pattern a manufacture produces until the color runs out. Each color run is different, even when the same colors are specified because the mixing process will never produce exactly the same color twice. There are slight variations between each color run
  5. Molding/Moulding - A piece of ornamental wood added to walls for visual aesthetics. Baseboards and chair rails are molding that also serve to protect the wall from damage at their respective location, such as the tops of chairs and shoes
  6. Kill Point/Dead corner - is a term to indicate when a four-room wallpaper project reaches the end. The kill point is the place where the last strip is applied and touches the first strip. When you start a project, you should hang the first strip in a place that is least noticeable or likely to be covered when the room is furnished because it is very likely that the pattern on the first strip and the last strip will not be aligned exactly.
  7. Match - The term refers to where a pattern aligns, or matches, between strips. The type of match is usually indicated either on the website or on the roll information (in stores). The easiest type of match pattern to hang is the random match. The most difficult is the multi-drop match. If you plan to install wallpaper, make sure to select a match that does not exceed your skill level (if you have never hung wallpaper, find a match that is either a random or straight match).
  8. Repeat - A pattern repeat refers to the distance between the top of a pattern or motif and the next occurrence of that pattern or motif. Textured wallpapers and wallpapers with a random match do not have repeats and have little waste at the end of the installation process. Other types of matches will have waste based on the size of the repeat. The larger the repeat, the more extra wallpaper you will need to ensure you have enough to complete the project.
  9. Washable - Washable wallpaper can be cleaned using a damp cloth or sponge without sustaining any damage. It will not withstand scrubbing or pressure for darker or older stains.
  10. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) - VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short-term and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors.