If you’re new to wallpapering, you will definitely encounter some words and phrases that you likely haven’t heard of, or seen previously. We hope this glossary will be useful to you as you begin your search for the perfect wallpaper.
The wall in a room where additional work has been done to attract attention.
A technique used to gently deliver wallpaper from the workstation to the wall. The wallpaper is gently folded like an accordion, without creating creases, so that it is easier to move the paper with the minimum mess.
Acrylic Coated/Vinyl Coated Paper
Refers to the type of paper and treatment it undergoes during manufacturing, acrylic coated or vinyl coated paper is made to be durable and easy to clean. They are ideal for rooms that are humid or messy, particularly kitchens and bathrooms, but are also good for entry rooms.
Different types of glue or paste for installing wallpaper and borders.
Aeration of Adhesives
Small holes caused by air bubbles in the adhesive on a strip of wallpaper, often created during the mixing process. It can lead to blistering of the wallpaper if not rectified.
A room that has a consistent wallpaper pattern so that no one place is emphasized over the rest of the room .
The molding around doors, windows, and other openings in the wall.
The molding located at the bottom of a wall. Similar to the chair rail, the baseboard is meant to hide scuffs and markings from chairs, furniture, or shoes. Baseboards are also called skirting.
The individual number given to different colour runs (see Colour Run). When reordering extra rolls be sure to refer to the number on the package to guarantee perfect colour match.
A part of a room where mismatched wallpaper strips can easily be hidden, usually by large furniture objects.
A small bubble of air behind the wallpaper. Common causes of wallpaper blisters are aerated adhesives, improper application of paste or water or rest time after application, a room with a temperature less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the installation, and neglecting to prime porous walls prior to installation.
A bolt is one continuous roll of wallpaper equivalent to the length of two single rolls.
Once a strip of wallpaper is wetted (prepasted) or paste added (unpasted), it will typically be set down to rest in a gently folded position. This gives the adhesive time to activate before installation.
A narrow strip of wallpaper that is installed horizontally over the primary wallpaper. Usually borders are applied to the ceiling to hide uneven application of the vertical strips or to highlight certain aspects of the room. Borders can also be applied just above the baseboard or on either side of chair rails.
A wallpaper strip, usually narrower than a sidewall, installed horizontally in a room, to define, separate and accent areas of decoration. A coordinating border is often used to provide a finished edge where the sidewall meets the ceiling. It can also be used at chair rail height to separate one coordinating wallpaper from another, or as an architectural detail to create decorative panels in a room. By itself, on a painted wall, a border can be an inexpensive way to personalize a room or create a theme. Borders can refresh what’s already there or create a new look in little time. A border is packaged in a single spool of standardized length.
Border Spool Size
Widths of borders will vary but the length of a border spool is usually 15 Feet.
The term refers to how well water can pass through the wallpaper. While it typically refers to more industrial strength wallcoverings, some wallpapers, like fiberglass, are also breathable.
Butted Seam/Butt Joint
The seam between two strips. The edges of the strips just barely touch and there is no overlap or gap between the strips.
Is a waterproof material that is used to seal joints or seams, typically around windows, bathroom and kitchen fittings. It is applied using a caulking gun.
A type of paste made from cotton, plants, wood pulp, or other natural material. Cellulose paste does not stain and has no odor, and is usually applied with natural wallpapers, like linens, bamboos, and grasscloths.
Using the most dominant part of a wallpaper pattern to draw the eye to a focal point, like the fireplace or piano.
Chair or Dado Rail
Originally added to walls to reduce the amount of scraping and scratches from chairs against the wall, the chair rail is a molding installed at the average height of the tops of chairs. Today it provides an elegant look to rooms and offers a way to create two different looks, such as painting above the rail and wallpaper below it.
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.
The amount of a particular color and pattern a manufacturer 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.
The traditional alignment of colors on a wheel to show their relationship to each other. For example, red, orange, and yellow are next to each other because they are considered warm or hot colors. The cool colors are green, blue, and purple.
Most wallpaper patterns are available in multiple colors. The color way is the particular color of a pattern.
Wallpapers designed as a collection and meant to be used in combination with one another. The combination may include several different prints, a complementary stripe or plain wallpaper, borders, and fabric. Also known as Companion Wallpapers
The molding located between the top of the wall and the ceiling. It is similar to the baseboard, but is more for decoration than hiding blemishes caused by bumps and scrapes against the wall.
In some cases, such as when hanging wallpaper over paneling, a wallpaper liner will be installed horizontally rather than vertically. This will help prevent the seams of the underlying material to show through.
The area of the wall between the baseboard and chair rail.
Another term for kill point.
Double cutting is when wallpaper is overlapped during installation, then cut through both layers. This is usually done around doorways or wall borders, helping to hide the seams or when repairing a tear. The extra wallpaper is removed and the wall is wiped down to remove the remaining adhesive.
Double Roll (Bolt)
In the US, wallpaper is typically priced in single rolls, but sold in double rolls. The double roll is one long strip of wallpaper so that the roll is double the length of a single roll
A wallpaper with a drop match pattern creates a diagonal rather than a horizontal pattern sequence. To create the effect, every other strip will be identical. The strips in between will have the pattern dropped by half of the pattern length from the ceiling.
The length of the wallpaper made to fit a certain area. A strip that starts at the ceiling and goes to the floor is a full drop. If a strip runs from a chair rail to the floor it is a partial drop.
Another term for paste-the-wall application of wallpaper.
Wallpaper that can be removed without water or additional preparation.
Dye-lot Number (Batch Number)
Each batch of wallpaper produced in manufacturing during a single run is given a dye-lot number. When hanging wallpaper you want to ensure that you have the same dye-lot number for all of your rolls because there is usually a slight color variation between the different dye-lots. It is often obvious when two dye-lots were used within a room. It is also called a run number or batch number.
During the installation process, the wallpaper strips are matched using designated points. This makes the entire process far easier as you don’t have to guess about how to line up the patterns to create the desired effect. Once the wallpaper is hung, the points are removed with a damp sponge.
Easy-Walls is an environmentally friendly wallpaper substrate. It is vinyl free, with no PVC or VOC and is printed with water based inks. Wallpaper made with this eco-chic material is pre-pasted and easy to install and easy to remove without harsh chemicals, making wallpaper décor projects a pleasure! The revolutionary Easy-Walls wallpapers are also washable and breathable, inhibiting mold and mildew.
Eggshell offers a good balance between matte and glossiness. The amount of sheen will undoubtedly vary from one manufacturer to another. This is an easy paint to clean with a damp cloth due to the amount of gloss it contains.
Wallpaper with a raised texture or the look of a raised texture.
Many English companies use this measurement for their wallpaper rolls. A single roll of wallpaper that measures 20.5” wide and 11 continuous yards of wallpaper that covers approximately 56 square feet.
Expanded Vinyl wallpapers are printed with a special ink that expands with heat giving them a raised surface effect known as “blown”. When the inks heat up, they expand so that wallpaper appears to have texture. It is popular for several different faux looks, like brick and stone, but is also used with paintable wallpapers.
A term used to mean fake or imitation, such as faux brick, faux grasscloth, or faux stone. They closely imitate the original when the thing being imitated will not work.
The area of the wall between the chair rail and the ceiling.
Flock wallpaper has a fuzzy or a velvet like texture
Free match refers to the wallpaper pattern, which is the easiest type to install and will not generate any waste. During the installation process, wallpaper can be hung without any pre-planning as there are no set matching requirements. The most popular kinds tend to be textured patterns, such as grasscloth. Another name for this kind of pattern is the random match pattern.
Fabric-Backed Vinyl wallpapers have a fabric backing which makes them highly durable. Because of their ability to be bumped and scratched without being damaged, these are most commonly used for commercial jobs where high levels of durability are a must.
Gloss paint finishes are the most reflective paint finishes. Due to their reflective and more decorative nature, they are typically used on wood trim and molding. The high level of gloss also means they are the easiest to clean.
This particular type of wallpaper is popular because each pattern is unique. Grasscloth is handcrafted using entirely natural materials and gives a room a textured look that cannot be achieved by other kinds of wallpaper. The primary drawbacks are that they are difficult to clean, often requiring a professional cleaner if stains and smudges are not treated immediately, and they do not do well in humidity (grasscloths are discouraged for bathrooms and kitchens).
A drop match pattern that requires dropping the pattern half way down the repeat and aligning it with the ceiling line to keep the pattern consistent. Every other strip will be identically hung. The ones in between will be dropped half way down the repeat. To ensure that you have adequate wallpaper you will need to order more wallpaper than just the square footage of the walls to be wallpapered. There will be more waste with half drop patterns than most other pattern matches.
Wallpaper that is made or cut specifically for the wall above doors and windows.
Heavy-weight Vinyl wallpapers are deeply embossed using a thick vinyl material. These wallpapers offer a very luxurious look and feel and are commonly used in Italian wallpaper manufacturing. This particular type of wallpaper can be relatively costly to hang in a room.
When installing wallpaper on all 4 walls of a room, the “kill point” is the place where the last strip is hung to join the first strip, finishing the project. This will usually result in an uneven pattern match at this point. We recommend hanging the first, and subsequently the last, strip in the least conspicuous area of the room to minimize the effect. This is often the corner behind you when you enter the room.
Latex Based Paint
Latex based paint is a water based paint made with synthetic acrylic binders. Excellent for painting over metal surfaces as they will prevent corrosion.
When working with wallpaper, measurements are done in linear feet. You will talk about the strips, wall length, border position, and other length measurements in linear feet. Linear metres?
Lining Paper / Liner Paper
Lining paper is a type of thick vinyl wallcovering that is installed before installing decorative wallpaper. These liners are available in a variety of weights to help cover wood paneling, or smooth out rough, damaged, or textured walls. They are sometimes installed horizontally rather than vertically to help hide seams
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). Random match is the easiest to install and will not create any waste when measuring strips as these wallpapers line up randomly at the seams. Drop-match and straight match wallpaper may incur some waste as you have to start each strip at a certain point to ensure the pattern matches up at the seams.
Matte paint also known as Flat Paint is the least reflective and will likely be the least expensive. This most matte type of finish is great for rooms or areas with low traffic, such as a living room.
Wallpaper that has a dull flat finish.
Another name for a wallpaper sample.
Molded Linoleum wallpapers are used primarily in the Lincrusta Collection. Lincrusta wallpapers are a highly durable and dimensional wallcovering that replicates the feeling of custom molding or paneling which can be top-coated with any paint or stain for desired effects.
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.
A design or pattern that recurs.
Murals usually refer to paintings, but there are a few examples of incredibly elegant wallpaper that makes a single picture with no repeats. When applied to a room, there are usually several pictures so that each strip is a single picture depicting a story or event. Wallpapering a mural requires a lot of planning and care during the installation process.
Colors that have been softened or lessened, typically by using complementary colors.
Colors associated with the Earth, such as beige, browns, greys, and white. These colors are often used to soften other colors or to complement them.
Most wallpapers are non-breathable, or they do not allow water particles behind the wall to pass through the wallpaper.
The non-woven material is fibrous, making it easier to install and remove and tend to be environmentally friendly as well. They will dry-strip from the wall, usually leaving the wall smooth and abrasion free. Many Non-wovens are vinyl free making them an environmentally friendly wallpaper option.
Wallpaper that is striped with one color that has multiple values, creating a blurred look.
The time between when adhesive is activated and when it will dry. Each strip will need to be applied before the open time ends to ensure that the adhesive will adhere to the wall.
The term used when two walls that do not face each other are joined together by a protrusion that juts out into the room.
Wallpaper that was printed during an operation using a wet background for the print.
Though not often used today, wallpaper used to be made with actual paper. The ones on the market today are environmentally friendly and show the colors of the ink in a way that is clear and aesthetically pleasing. Paper has lost popularity over the decades because it is delicate and tears easily.
Paste-the-wall is a method of installing wallpaper in which the adhesive is applied to the wall instead of the wallpaper. This is also called dry hanging.
Peelable wallpaper is easy to remove from walls, although it typically leaves some of the backing behind on the wall. The backing can be often removed with soap and water, but sometimes a wallpaper removal solution may be necessary.
Peel and Stick
Similar to modern stamps, peel and stick wallpaper can be installed directly from the roll without water or adhesive. To begin, remove a few inches of the backing material and slowly smooth the wallpaper onto the wall in a downwards motion, smoothing out the bubbles and other problems before pulling more of the backing from the strip. It is best used on flat walls. Since it is easy to install and remove, peel and stick wallpaper can be a good starting place for novices. However, it is not as durable as other types of wallpaper and will begin to peel from the wall sooner.
A blister in the wallpaper that is caused by a protrusion in the wall, such as drywall.
Plumb Line/Chalk Line
Before beginning to hang wallpaper, it is recommended that you draw a faint line with a level in the place where you plan to hang the first strip. The line is the plumb line, and it ensures that you hang the strip straight. You can also apply chalk to a string and snap it against the wall to create a plumb line.
When wallpaper already has the paste applied to the backing, it is called pre-pasted. This paste on this type of wallpaper is activated by dipping the wallpaper into water.
Pre-trimmed describes wallpaper where the border edges have been removed prior to wallpaper packaging.
A primer is a preparatory coating that seals the pores on a surface. There are different primers suited for different materials. Research which is the correct type of primer for the material surface you are working with.
Most walls need to be prepared before wallpaper is hung. Cleaning is always recommended, but priming is also recommended. This means filling in the gaps, holes, and cracks, as well as smoothing out bumps and other imperfections. The final step of priming is a thin coat of primer that will make the surface smoother for the actual wallpaper installation.
The term for applying wallpaper horizontally to create a striking look.
The easiest type of wallpaper match to install, the random match does not require you to plan how to hang each strip. There is no particular pattern to match , so you may not have any waste at the end of the process. This kind of match is also called free match.
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.
The term to describe hanging one strip from top to bottom, flipping the next strip so that the bottom part is placed at the ceiling line. This technique can lessen or negate problems with colors, such as shading.
Run Number (Dye-Lot)
Also sometimes referred to as the “batch-number” this number refers to each batch of your wallpaper that was printed at one time. Using wallpaper from the same dye-lot number will ensure that your colors match up continuously
Wallpaper companies provide samples of the wallpaper upon request. Samples include at least one full repeat and give customers the opportunity to see how well the pattern and colors work in the room to be wallpapered.
The term used to describe perforating wallpaper prior to removal. Scoring allows for the removal solution to penetrate the wallpaper to weaken the adhesive, making the removal process easier. Special tools can be purchased that are designed to roll over your walls, making small holes in the wallpaper.
Scrubbable wallpapers have a higher level of durability than washable wallpapers and can be scrubbed with a sponge when trying to remove marks or stains. You can use a soap or mild detergent on scrubbable wallpaper.
A tool used to smooth seams between strips.
Semi-gloss paints are excellent for areas with high traffic. It reflects and bounces light more than an eggshell paint and is extremely well suited for kitchens and bathrooms. You will be able to find specially formulated semi-gloss paints for use in these high-moisture areas.
An undesirable effect at the seams of wallpaper where the pattern or texture appears off because of the coloring or heavier ink in a particular spot. Reverse hanging often fixes or hides the problems.
The standard used by American manufacturers to describe the size of a roll of wallpaper. While wallpaper rolls are measured in single rolls, virtually all manufacturers sell only double rolls.
Wallcovering preparation that provides additional grip for better adherence. Often used in combination with a wallcovering primer, today many products on the market combine the primer and sizer together. These one-step ‘universal’ wallcovering primers are easier to use and are formulated to work on a variety of surfaces under varying conditions. Sealing the surface is also an important procedure to allow for future removal.
Similar to primer, sizing is applied to walls prior to installing wallpaper. It fills the small gaps and pores so that the wall is smoother. Many primers have taken this need into account and have added sizing to the final product, so that you usually will not need both products.
Another name for baseboards.
The period of time it takes the wallpaper to expand out to its maximum width once the adhesive has been applied to the reverse. The soak time is normally indicated on the label as a specific time, such as 4-5 minutes. Under soaking may lead to expansion bubbles forming after hanging. Over soaking may lead to the paper becoming difficult to handle and tearing.
Solid Sheet Vinyl
Solid Sheet Vinyl wallpapers are printed on a 100% vinyl material and are commonly embossed to give them a luxurious textural effect. These wallpapers are quite durable and are usually scrubbable, making them easy to clean and maintain. They are also peelable which means the wallpaper will peel off the wall easily, leaving some of the backing on the wall, which can typically be removed with soap and water or in some cases a wallpaper removal solution may be necessary.
Spackling is a type of putty made from Gypsum Powder and various binders. It is used to fill holes and small cracks in drywall, plaster and wood.
Straight Match/Straight Across Match
A straight match pattern will align with the last strip starting at the ceiling line. Stripes are a popular straight match pattern.
String wallpapers have a natural look that is both sophisticated and timeless. They are made by strings being printed on top of a finished design, creating a heavily textured pattern. Most string wallpapers are made of either synthetic or cotton materials. Similarly to grasscloth, it is recommended that cleaning should be done by lightly vacuuming with a vacuum brush; these products are not washable and should not be hung in bathrooms. Professional cleaning may be necessary.
The easiest wallpaper to remove, strippable wallpaper does not require any extra work to peel it from the walls, you do not need to wet or apply anything to peel it, and it will not leave anything behind to clean up. They usually are printed on a Non-Woven substrate.
Wallpaper that does not have any kind of adhesive applied to the back of the wallpaper. You will need to purchase the adhesive separately before you can install the wallpaper.
Wallpaper that has not been prepared for the application of a trim or border. The border edges are still on the roll when it is packaged. The people installing the wallpaper need to trim the edges before installing it.
Wallpaper with a pattern printed onto a thin layer of vinyl on a paper background which makes them relatively tough and washable.
Similar to vinyl-coated (above) but with a much thicker vinyl top sheet which increases their durability.
A handy tool that makes wallpapering easy. WallpaperBuddy™ holds wallpaper away from the wall creating an ideal angle for aligning and smoothing the paper to the wall. WallpaperBuddy™ helps to reduce bubbles and creases allowing the user to complete the task more efficiently.
A doughy substance that is used to remove stains from wallpaper. The dough is rolled into a ball, then rolled over the wallpaper surface, from which it will lift the dirt. The dough can be used repeatedly by rolling into a new ball each time before use.
Washable wallpapers can be lightly cleaned with a sponge or a damp cloth. You should take care when cleaning washable wallpapers, but if you are gentle, they should clean easily. They will not withstand scrubbing or pressure for darker or older stains.
Wet strippable wallpaper can be dampened and then peeled from the wall. It should largely peel in a single strip.
Wipe with a Damp Cloth
The most delicate wallpaper that will not withstand most types of cleaning. When you use the damp cloth, you cannot apply pressure as the wallpaper is fragile.
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