Applying wallpaper is a common choice instead of painting the walls, as it’s quick to apply and will cover the entire room on a budget.
No matter what your choice is regarding the design and material, you will easily find different types of wallpaper according to your choice, including blown vinyl.
Blown vinyl wallpaper is basically a style of wallpaper that comes with an embossed surface design or textured pattern finished with a water-resistant layer of plastic that cannot be easily painted over.
Blown vinyl wallpaper (also called expanded vinyl wallpaper) resembles an embossed or anaglypta paper with a pattern etched into the surface, but it is tinted. The protective layer of plastic makes them resistant to daily wear and weather, making them most suitable for areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.
Blown Vinyl Wallpaper – Pros and Cons
Blown vinyl wallpapers were trendy in the 1970s but came back in the early 21st century. They were most commonly used in commercial spaces but are also becoming increasingly popular for residential use these days.
Blown vinyl wallpaper comes with several benefits, making it a good choice for many people. Some of these include:
- Blown vinyl wallpaper is durable and easy to clean, which is why it is ideally a good choice for high-traffic areas or areas prone to spills and splashes. When installed correctly, they can last for as long as 15 years.
- It is also waterproof, making it ideal for kitchen backsplash or bathroom areas.
- It is easier to install than other types, such as textured wallpaper. You can even use them on textured walls – it sticks well to them.
- Blown vinyl wallpaper also will stick to nonporous surfaces, such as concrete blocks, wood paneling, or synthetic laminate paneling. However, to make sure the paper adheres well, apply lining paper first.
- This wallpaper type is available in a wide range of colors and patterns, so you can find one that suits your taste and style.
The waterproofing material of the blown vinyl wallpapers also means that when you need to clean these wallpapers, just use warm water and mild dishwashing detergent.
After wiping, use a clean sponge to rinse and dry the wallpaper with a microfiber cloth to remove any lint.
Aside from all the advantages, blown vinyl wallpaper comes with a few disadvantages that you should be aware of before using it in your home. Some of them include the following:
- Blown vinyl wallpaper is more expensive than other types.
- It is non-paintable and can shrink when exposed to heat – like in a room with direct sunlight.
- It is also not as easy to remove or repair if damaged. So, you may need to hire a professional to do the job for you.
A Few Other Types of Vinyl Wallpapers for Wall Decor
Although blown vinyl wallpapers are easy to install and maintain, their drawbacks make many people look for other types of vinyl wallpapers.
Some of the other most common substitutes include:
1- Vinyl Coated Wallpaper
Vinyl-coated wallpaper is constructed by coating a thin layer of vinyl over paper or other base material (such as polyvinyl chloride). Paper is typically used as the basis for this type of wall covering, although it can also be acrylic vinyl or polyvinyl chloride. This wallpaper’s vinyl coating is washable and sturdy but tears easier than other wallpapers.
2- Solid Sheet Vinyl Wallpaper
Solid vinyl wallpaper is made entirely of vinyl, making it resistant to both water and cleaning. This wallpaper is ideal for high-traffic areas like children’s rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms because of its durability.
Since the vinyl in these wallpapers is in “solid” form and isn’t coated in a liquid form, these are washable, scratch resistant, and more durable than other types of vinyl wallpapers.
3- Paper Backed Vinyl Wallpaper
A wallpaper made of a paper (pulp) backing laminated to a solid sheet of vinyl is referred to as paper-backed vinyl wallpaper. It’s also known as solid sheet vinyl wallpaper since it has a hard surface.
These wallpapers are washable, moisture-resistant, greaseproof, and stain resistant because of which they may be used in almost any room in the house. These wallpapers are also easy to install, repair and remove in full strips.
4- Fabric Backed Vinyl Wallpaper
Vinyl wallpaper with a fabric backing is made with vinyl on the top layer and woven fabric instead of paper on the back.
These wallpapers are moisture-resistant, durable, washable, scrubbable, and peelable – making them perfect for high-traffic areas such as hallways, playrooms, kids’ rooms, living room surfaces, kitchens, or bathrooms.
Wallpapers with fabric backing are further classified as follows:
a) Type I – It’s a light-duty wallpaper good for offices, hotel rooms, hospitals, patient rooms, and other low-traffic areas.
b) Type II – It is a medium-duty wallpaper good for higher-traffic or public areas like lounges, corridors, living rooms, foyers, offices, wards, and classrooms.
c) Type III – This high-duty wallpaper is ideal for high-traffic areas with potential abuse, like restaurants, public bathrooms, and other high-traffic areas. These are the places where greater wall protection is often required.
5- Vinyl Wallpaper that Mimics Grasscloth
Besides the above common ones, there is also a vinyl wallpaper that looks like a grasscloth. This wallpaper strip is easy to install, remove, and repair. The seams are barely visible, and you can install them in any room without worrying about washability or durability.
Like other vinyl wall coverings, vinyl grasscloth is machine-produced and lacks the beauty and texture of natural grasscloth wallpaper. But they are usually less expensive and far more durable.
Manufacturers have now discovered methods to create the appearance of a natural grasscloth so the only way to distinguish it from vinyl is by touching the wallpaper.
Vinyl Wallpapering Problems when Installing Wallcoverings
Although easy to install, there can be some problems with vinyl wallpapers. Some of these are due to incorrect installation, while others result from the wallpaper itself.
Vinyl wallpaper can be significantly damaged if there is excessive moisture present. The humidity in the room should, therefore, be closely monitored.
If the humidity is too high, the wallpaper can absorb moisture from the air and swell causing it to buckle, ripple, blister, or even attract toxic molds.
Vinyl wallpaper is also sensitive to temperature changes. If the temperature in the room is too low, the wallpaper can become hard and brittle. However, if the temperature is too high the wallpaper can shrink or become soft and gummy causing it to tear easily.
Vinyl wallpaper can also be damaged by exposure to light – if exposed to direct sunlight for too long it can fade or discolor.
When you see colors from the design “bleeding” through the vinyl, this is referred to as “color bleeding.”
To avoid this, always test the vinyl wallpaper you’ve chosen in an inconspicuous area before you apply it to the entire wall. Doing this will allow you to determine if the design is “colorfast” (or if the colors will bleed).
If you try to install vinyl wallpaper without stretching it first, you’ll likely end up with wrinkles or bubbles.
To avoid this, always “book” the vinyl wallpaper by folding it in half lengthwise and letting it sit for about 15 minutes before you begin your project. This will make the vinyl more pliable and much easier to work with.
5- Vinyl Over Vinyl
Many times people just jump into the project and put a new vinyl wallpaper over their old vinyl wallpaper. Unfortunately, trying to cover vinyl wallpaper with new wallpaper is not recommended as it will likely lead to peeling.
For better adhesion and long-lasting, durable results you should make every effort to remove the vinyl wallpaper entirely before applying any new layers.
6- Drying Time
Vinyl wallpapers can take anywhere between 2 and 7 days to dry completely. While this will largely depend on the type of wall covering used and the environmental factors, the condition of the wall surface and the adhesive used will also play a good role.
That said, if you use a peel-and-stick type vinyl wallpaper with self-adhesive, you need not worry about the adhesive you will be using.
7- Choosing the Right Adhesive
Many times, you will have to purchase the adhesive separately to install vinyl wallpaper that doesn’t come with backed adhesive.
If you don’t use the right adhesive, you’ll likely end up with a host of problems such as wallpaper curling away, peeling away from the wall, or not sticking at all.
What glue to use for vinyl wallpaper generally depends on the wallpaper’s weight and thickness. For example, if you’re working with a heavier grasscloth vinyl wallpaper, you’ll need an adhesive that’s specifically designed for heavyweight wallpapers. On the other hand, if you’re working with thinner, lighter vinyl wallpaper, you can get away with using a standard wallpaper adhesive.
Installing vinyl wallpaper on damp walls can also cause problems. The wallpaper will not adhere properly to the wall, and as the wall dries, the wallpaper will start to peel off. If you must install wallpaper on damp walls, make sure to use an adhesive designed for that purpose.
Best Wallpaper Paste for Vinyl Wallpaper and Applying It Correctly
Roman’s Heavy-Duty Paste and Rust-Oleum SureGrip Strippable Wallpaper Adhesive are the best adhesives on the market that can hold up even the heaviest wall covering.
If you are looking for good quality and affordable wallpaper adhesive, I recommend trying Rust-Oleum’s paper adhesive, which is the most durable option.
Some adhesive pastes require that you “size” the wall before you start hanging the wallpaper. Sizing is a pre-coat that you apply to the wall surface before hanging the wallpaper. This step is vital because it helps the adhesive better grip the wall, ultimately leading to a better overall hold.
Many adhesives don’t require that you size the wall before you start hanging the wallpaper. With these types of adhesives, you simply apply the adhesive directly to the back of the wallpaper.
Once you’ve applied the paste, wait the amount of time specified by the manufacturer before you start hanging the wallpaper according to the provided instructions.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.