What You Need to Know Before Using Wallcoverings

What You Need to Know Before Using Wallcoverings

Avoid the common problems that plague inexperienced buyers of wallpaper.

Wallpaper and wall murals have gone through several changes over the last decade. Wallpaper sales have fallen off from the 80’s, but have made a comeback in recent years. Why are wallcoverings starting to breathe life again? We are going to go through a series of articles that explain why wall murals and wallpaper declined in popularity, as well as why that has reversed as of late.

Wallpaper Materials

The first topic we will cover is wallpaper materials of the past and present, which have created the issues that doomed wallpaper. In the past, wallpaper was made of, well, paper, which is where the name 'wallpaper' originated from. From there, wallpaper started to migrate to a vinyl-based material that was laminated and meshed with other materials. This made the wallpaper stronger and more durable than traditional paper.

However, both of these materials caused issues:

Letting Your Wall Breathe

Wallpaper Mold Issues

The first challenge that presents itself is the breathability of vinyl and paper. If the wall is not allowed to breathe, the moisture will be kept inside, increasing the potential for mold growth and the bubbling of the paper and vinyl. One way to prevent this issue is to perforate the material by making holes in the wallpaper, similar to the vinyl on a car's rear window. Although these holes are relatively small, they will still have a negative impact on the picture quality.

Non-breathable wallpaper or wall murals could create an opportunity for mold to grow.

Issues When Using Paper and Vinyl


Along with preventing the wall from breathing, paper and vinyl can be challenging to apply in a perfectly flat manner. Regardless of the way the wallcovering sticks to the wall: paste-required, prepasted, or adhesive-backed (peel-and-stick), air bubbles can be an issue. There is no way to eliminate it unless you poke a small hole in the material or remove the wallcovering to the position of the bubble and smooth it out. This can be problematic because the wallpaper adhesive may have already dried and adhered to the wall before you noticed it.

Avoiding Shrinking and Expansion

Both vinyl and paper are susceptible to shrinking and expansion. There is a shrinking agent present in vinyl, which, in turn, can cause several complications. Most shrinking issues are caused by heat, and sure enough, vinyl will shrink when exposed to heat. If the wallpaper or wall mural is in a room with a generous amount of sunlight and exposure, this will cause shrinking issues. To avoid shrinking the vinyl, place it in a room that is not susceptible to wild variations in temperature, and no heat sources are directly striking the vinyl directly.

Paper murals tend to shrink and expand most while applying the wallpaper paste, or while wetting the paste that is on the back of the paper. Shrinking is a challenge for multi-panel wallcoverings for when no overlap exists for the printed panels, and shrinking occurs, the panels will not line up correctly, leaving gaps. For several panels with an overlap, expansion or shrinking could create a misaligned overlap, which will make the mural look strange on the wall.

Both vinyl and paper are susceptible to shrinking and expansion


Shrinking may also cause long-term complications. When the material shrinks, its contact with the wall lessens. Frequently, the points that have the least amount of adhesion, usually the corners, will begin to peel and curl inward. Once this happens, wallcoverings without a removable paste/adhesive will become waste, as there will be no adhesive properties remaining to adhere to the wall. Murals and wallpaper with a removable adhesive can be reapplied, and will most likely stick; however, the next time the mural or wallpaper is subjected to heat, shrinking and peeling will reoccur.

Paper is the most fragile media used for wall murals and wallpaper. There are select heavy-duty papers that are more durable than others. When it comes down to it, paper has the most potential for ripping, unlike vinyl, which can stretch over 125 percent. Paper has a slight ability to stretch, but more often than not, ripping will occur during installation. Once ripped, the paper will never return to its original condition.

Paper is easily ripped during installation or removal

Paper is easily ripped during installation or removal


These traditional wallpaper issues are now behind us with the modern technology that we use here at Limitless Walls!

Our next article will embrace recent trends in wallpaper and wall mural media including removable wall coverings, and explain how to conquer paper and vinyl mural obstacles.

Explore our Wallpaper Murals

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