Clear vs. Clay Wallcovering Adhesive: What is the Difference?

What's the real difference between clear adhesives and clay adhesives? Is one better than the other, and why do some contractors prefer one formula over the other? Below, we discuss the differences and applications for both types of wallpaper adhesives.

Wallcovering adhesives come in many forms, and each is made to perform according to a specific application. Some of the differences between clear and clay adhesives are:

  • Wet tack – how quickly the adhesive bonds to the wall surface.
  • Solids – the amount of natural solid material in the adhesive (such as clay).
  • Open time – the amount of time that you can move the wallpaper around.
  • Strippability – the ease in which the wallpaper can be removed.
  • Ease of Use – how easy is the adhesive to apply and clean-up?.

There are two main categories that will be discussed in this article: clear adhesives and clay adhesives

Clear adhesives are generally recommended for lightweight to medium weight wallpapers and are suited for both  residential or commercial customers.  They provide excellent tack while allowing extra time to ensure that the patterns are aligned and the seams are tight. They are also easy to clean up with water.

Clay adhesives have a high solids content, providing exceptional wet tack ideal for hanging heavier weight wallcoverings like commercial vinyl and wood veneers. . This makes clay adhesives popular with professional wallpaper installers who need maximum tack for heavier wallcoverings.The natural color of the clay adhesive also makes it easy for the installer to see when applying the adhesive and cleaning up afterwards.

In many cases, the choice of clear or clay is a personal preference based on the particular project and the experience level of the installer. Let’s look at the adhesives that ROMAN Products carries in both of these categories.

Clear Wall Covering Adhesives

Clear adhesives are ideal for: non-woven wallpapers, vinyl and vinyl-coated wallpapers, grasscloth, string cloth, bamboo, silks and delicate pulp papers. Prior to installing any wallpaper, the surface must be free from grease and other residues, as well as dry, smooth and structurally sound. Check all surfaces for paint bonding, loose wallcoverings, damaged wall-board or plaster, and repair all unsound surfaces. Before proceeding with any unusual conditions, consult your adhesive or wallcovering supplier.

The ROMAN Products lineup of clear adhesives includes:

PRO-880 Ultra Clear Strippable – America’s most popular clear wallpaper adhesive. It is ideal for hanging most lightweight, medium-weight and heavyweight wallpaper and can be diluted up to 50% and used with prepasted wallpaper.

  • Has excellent adhesion
  • Applies easily with a paint roller, brush, or pasting machine
  • Has a long working time and cleans up easily with water
  • Strippable when used with fabric-backed vinyl over bare drywall (once fully dried) 
  • Zero  VOC  ( As calculated per EPA Method 24 )

GH-34 Wheat-based Paste for Unpasted Wallpaper – This product is similar to English-style tub pastes and is ideal for hanging delicate styles of wallpaper such as English-style pulp papers, grasscloth, and string cloth. It can also be used for hanging commercial wallpaper.

  • Strippable when used with most fabric-backed wallcoverings
  • Superior wet-tack
  • Non-staining
  • VOC: < 5 grams/Liter 

ECO-888 Premium Clear Strippable Wallcovering Adhesive – ROMAN’s ECO products contain zero VOCs, and are CDPH CA01350 standard compliant.  CDPH 01350 is the most widely used standard in North America for VOC testing and for evaluating VOC emissions from building products.

Based on the top clear adhesive on the market, ECO-888 is strippable, machinable, and perfect for all weights of wallcoverings. For environmentally-friendly, low-emitting wallcovering materials, ECO-888 is the perfect option for your installation project. It has excellent tack and extended open time for greater flexibility during installation.

ROMAN’s ECO products are commonly specified on USGBC LEED Projects, and feature:

Clay Wallcovering Adhesives

ROMAN Products produces an assortment of clay wallcovering adhesives that are ideal for heavyweight wallcoverings and commercial installations. Our clay adhesives are formulated with natural clay to create low moisture, high tack adhesives, ideal for medium weight to heavyweight materials. These adhesives provide extended open-time, and clean up easily with water. All ROMAN adhesives contain biocides to help resist the growth of mold and mildew in the pail and on the adhesive film.

ECO-788 Clear Strippable Wallcovering Adhesive – ECO-788 is a clay based wallcovering adhesive – ideal for use with medium-weight to commercial weight wallcoverings. ECO-788 is a commercial grade adhesive with maximum tack, formulated for use in pasting machines.

As part of the ECO product line, ECO-788 is commonly specified on USGBC LEED projects, is NSF/ANSI 342 Compliant, contains zero VOCs, and can be certified-compliant with CDPH, CA01350 standard, the most widely used standard in North America for VOC testing and for evaluating VOC emissions from building products.

For best results, use in conjunction with ECO-988 Pigmented Wallcovering Primer.

PRO-774 Clay Strippable Wallcovering Adhesive – PRO-774 is the preferred adhesive for large commercial jobs such as hotels, office buildings, and hospitals.

It is designed to flow easily through pasting machines, and has maximum wet tack to hold the heaviest wallcoverings. PRO-774 is a commercial grade adhesive and is strippable with fabric-backed vinyl over bare drywall.

  • Recommended for pasting machines
  • Strippable when used with fabric-backed vinyl over bare drywall (once fully dried)
  • Low VOCs
  • May be diluted with up to one pint (16 ounces) of clean water per gallon for pasting machine use.

PRO-732 Extra-Strength Clay Wallcovering Adhesive – PRO-732 is a high solids, commercial grade, clay-based wallcovering adhesive with a thick, rich consistency.

It is designed to spread easily with a roller. It is a high solids adhesive formulated for applications requiring low moisture, such as wood veneers

  • Excellent adhesion
  • Smooth, thick consistency
  • Low VOCs
  • Do not dilute

ROMAN Products Are Consistently Rated As Number One

We are the number one choice among professional wallpaper installers in America and we have earned that reputation through 75 years of dedicated service to the industry:

  • Installers
  • Distributors
  • General Public

We manufacture wallpaper primers, pastes, removers and specialty products that can be found in most big box stores and specialty paint outlets. Our customer service department is available Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM CT. Contact us today to assist you with helpful advice, videos and product selection to make your next project a success.