The Ultimate Guide to Types of Wallpaper

Wallpaper has become more popular in recent years and the trend looks to continue far into the future. Since there are so many types of designs, materials to choose from and different applications to consider, this article is written as a guide to help you through the process. 
Room shot of navy blue chinoiserie wallpaper in a dining room.



Vinyl wallpaper is one of the most versatile wallcoverings on the market today, so it’s a great option for growing families. It is easy to install and can be cleaned with a damp sponge. Made from PVC, vinyl wallpaper is extremely durable making it a great choice for kid’s rooms, bathrooms and even kitchens. You’ll find it in a number of styles including pre-pasted, peel and stick, and textured, providing endless decorating options for your home. Non self-adhesive varieties can be installed with a quality clear wallpaper adhesive after the wall has been prepped with a wallpaper primer.

In addition to being residential-friendly, vinyl wallpaper is great for commercial properties as well. 

Many commercial vinyl wallcoverings are available with a Class A fire rating to keep your building within code while making it more attractive. Additionally, some heavy weight commercial wallcoverings are designed to be impact and stain resistant making them an ideal choice for high traffic areas.


Room shot of beige, woven wallpaper behind a desk and chair.
York – Papyrus Weave Wallpaper

There may be nothing more beautiful than nature hanging on your wall. Grasscloth wallpaper is commonly made from arrowroot, raw jute, hemp, sisal, cork, reed and triangle grass. The grass fibers are held together with fine thread and they are usually hand-woven in Asia. This is one of the reasons that grasscloth costs more than the average wallpaper.

Grasscloth is also prone to damage if not handled and installed correctly, making it a poor choice for high traffic areas such as hallways. It is a durable wall covering, but will require occasional vacuuming to remove dust. 

Grasscloth is available in many colors and its organic appeal makes it an excellent accent wall. However, it’s important to remember that grasscloth cannot be matched at the seams so each row will be different. Also, the width of grasscloth is usually wider than regular wallpaper.  Grasscloth will be 36” wide while standard paper widths are 27” and 21”. 

Installation is also different. Grasscloth does not come in a prepasted option. You will need to use a specialty adhesive to install this product that is starch-based like ROMAN Products GH-34

Some other installation points to consider:

  • Grasscloth expands when wet and this could cause problems if installed dry on the wall. You may need to soak it before installation so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • You cannot get glue on the face of the wallpaper—it will show and may be difficult to clean from the face of delicate grasscloth. The best way to avoid this is to use the “paste the wall” installation method.

Peel And Stick

Room shot of blue and white line art wallpaper in a kitchen with mid-century furniture.
York – Robotics Premium Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Peel and stick wallpaper installs just like the name implies – peel off the backing and hang it where you want it. Of course, the normal preparations will ensure great results:

  • Apply to a smooth, clean and dry wall surface.
  • Use a wallpaper primer before you hang the paper. This will ensure that the wallpaper is easy to remove when the time comes.
  • Make the installation smooth with E-Z Hang Peel & Stick Helper. This solution allows the wallcovering to move more freely during placement, before it gets too tacky to move.

Normally manufactured as a vinyl wallcovering, peel and stick is durable and washable, making it a great solution for dressing up the walls of a rental apartment.  Use it in areas of high traffic and be confident that it can handle some wear and tear. A chief factor in choosing peel and stick wallpaper is that it can be removed when it’s time to relocate, and with minimal damage to the wall surface.

Flock Wallpaper

Close-up photo of a flocked, damask wallcovering.
Brewster – Damask Grey Shadow Flocked

Sometimes referred to as embossed, flock wallpaper is one of many types of textured papers available today. The term ”flock” refers to the material that was originally used to manufacture it. Flock was the leftover fuzz from the woollen cloth industry and it was supposed to imitate crushed velvet. Today, the fibers are made from polyester, nylon or rayon combined with an adhesive.

Flock wallpaper requires care when installing. It should be installed with the “paste the wall” method since any glue on the surface will ruin the flocking. To ensure that you have minimum problems with glue stains, allow the adhesive to “tack up” before hanging the panel. This will help keep the adhesive from oozing out while you are positioning the paper. Use a roller to flatten the paper instead of a smoothing tool to keep the paper from being over-manipulated and ruined.

Embossed wallpaper is best suited for rooms where traffic is not an issue. The flocking can easily bruise, and replacing a damaged area could be problematic.

Application/Installation Types


Room shot of paintable stone wallcovering.
Brewster – Pieter White Stone Paintable Wallpaper

Paintable wallpaper gives you the option of adding texture to your walls while still allowing you control over the color. The pattern on this style of paper is repeating and will really add a nice visual touch to any room that it is used in. It can be used on a whole wall or just as a backsplash in the kitchen.  It is a heavy vinyl paper that can be painted with flat or glossy paint, and the textured finish adds dimension to the room. 

Paintable wallpaper installs like any other — there are no special instructions needed. It can be purchased as pasted, unpasted, or peel and stick. For rental housing, the peel and stick option adds a fancy dimension that can be painted by the tenant and then easily removed between rentals.  

Make sure to leave the paper on the wall for 36 hours before painting to ensure that the adhesive has dried.


Living is a dirty business and that means walls get dirty as well. Wallcoverings in the living room, family room, and bathroom need to be washable if they are to be effective. Some types of wallpaper are more moisture-resistant than others and you need to read the manufacturer’s recommendations before making a final selection. Most washable wallpaper is going to be vinyl and can be purchased as peel and stick, pre-pasted, and un-pasted. Since it is washable,it will be durable as well as traffic-friendly.


Strippable wallpapers would include everything but peel and stick options. They adhere to the wall with some type of glue that must be loosened in order to strip the paper off the wall. Generally, no one wants to go through the trouble of stripping wallpaper, but this option will give you the greatest selection of designs and material choices. On the bright side, if the wall was prepared properly using a wallpaper primer and a strippable adhesive to hang the paper, taking the wallpaper down can be a much easier task.

Paste The Paper/Paste The Wall

Many DIY-ers will seek out self-adhesive or peel and stick wallpaper for obvious reasons – they don’t have to deal with glue. By spending a little extra time pasting the paper or the wall yourself, you will have many more options and design styles to choose from. If you are installing the wallpaper in your own home, and you intend the wallpaper to be there for years, this method of installation is more permanent than peel and stick.

Pasting wallpaper stirs up images of long tables covered with glued up wallpaper that is limp and difficult to work with. This is called “paste the paper” installation and it has been replaced by savvy DIY-ers with the “paste the wall” method, which is more straight-forward. Apply the wallpaper adhesive directly to the wall with a paint roller, take the clean, dry panel of wallpaper and affix it to the wall. This type of wallpaper is often referred to as non-woven.

Design Styles

Brick-Look Wallpaper

Room shot of an apartment with faux red brick wallpaper.
Brewster – Baker Street Red Brick Wallpaper

Many designers are choosing a more industrial look, and faux brick vinyl wallpaper gives them the option of creating the look of an old building or perfectly straight rows of new construction masonry. These wallcoverings are scrubbable and will stand up to the daily traffic of family or a commercial business. Available as pre-pasted, peel and stick, and unpasted, installation is simple and they are a cost effective way to add interest to a wall.


Murals are a quick fix for a statement wall. They come in numbered panels and the installation instructions will tell you the order to install them in. The design options and colors make it easy to find the perfect match for your room. Just be sure that the pattern will fit on the selected wall and that there are no doors and windows in the middle of the mural that will cut out an important portion of the pattern. Since they are design specific, you may want to choose a peel and stick material that will allow you to quickly remove it when you want a new look.

Vintage Wallpaper

Room shot of vintage style wallpaper featuring bows and roses in a bedroom.
Brewster – Rosa Beaux Light Blue Large Bow Spot Wallpaper

Vintage wallpaper patterns are often referred to today as retro or grandmillenial designs.  They bring back the look of traditionalism and include floral prints and big patterns. It can also include antique wallpaper that was seen in the Victorian age of England. For designs from the 60s and 70s, you would find geometrics, paisley shapes, and loud colors, while a pattern from the 1800s might use darker colors reminiscent of staid libraries and meeting rooms. Though the look may be antique, the material will still be modern, and the installation will follow standard procedures for the type of paper you’ve chosen.

Metallic Wallpaper

Close up view of Diamond Fracture wallcovering by York.
York – Diamond Fracture High Performance Wallpaper

Metallic designs are for those looking to make a statement with a bang. The balance between shine and dull is an instant contrast within the same piece of wallpaper.  These rolls can be hung in a matched pattern or you can mix and match to create your own special feature wall. Consider using peel and stick for metallics as your taste may change over time, and it will be easier to replace. This style of wallpaper generally starts in the $40 range.

Patterned Wallpaper

Room shot of navy wallpaper featuring a Banyan tree pattern.
Brewster – Banyan Navy Tree Wallpaper

Patterned wallpaper actually covers a wide range of designs. There’s a repeat pattern, drop pattern, and no pattern. Repeat patterns follow a specific distance from one element to the next and they are matched when hanging adjacent panels. Drop pattern is a repeat pattern, but the pattern doesn’t repeat at regular intervals so they are not matched when side by side. There are also wallpapers that have random patterns that are not intended to be matched at all.

Wood-Look Wallpaper

Room shot of grey, wood look wallcovering in a bedroom.
York – Quarter Sawn Wood

Like brick-look, wood-look wallpaper creates the illusion of a real wooden wall. It can mimic paneling or barn wood, tongue and groove, or shiplap. The pattern can be rustic or can imitate freshly painted wood. It is an easy way to create the expensive look of wood without the price and effort.

Tile-Look Wallpaper

Room shot of a kitchen with faux white subway tile wallpaper.
Brewster – Easton Off White Subway Tile Wallpaper

Tile-look wallpaper can be used in the bathroom or as a kitchen backsplash. It is much easier to install than actual tile and if a quality print is purchased it will look like the real thing from just a few feet away. Always use mold-resistant wallpaper primer and adhesive to help keep mold and mildew from forming, and when installing in a full bathroom, be sure to always keep the ventilating fan running to reduce humidity in the room.

ROMAN Products Is the Ultimate Supplier of Quality Wallpaper Installation Products

ROMAN Products is known around the world as the number one provider of premium wallpaper installation solutions. Our removers, primers, and adhesives are second to none and can be found on the shelves of most big box stores. ROMAN Products has been focused on providing the professional installer and the serious weekend warrior with premium products since 1957. 

Contact us today for solid advice on starting your next wallpaper project!