Wall covering types

Written by timothy sexton
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Wall covering types
Wood panelling is just one of many types of wall coverings. (panel image by Dave from Fotolia.com)

Wall covering is often referred to as wallpaper, but improvement and advancements in this style of decor go well beyond the concept of just placing paper onto a wall. Wall coverings today can be made from a variety of fabrics that range from velvet to silk. The most popular wall coverings today are still paper-backed or cotton-backed vinyl or foamed plastic. Wall covering also comes in options besides wallpaper.

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Expanded Polystyrene Sheets

Expanded polystyrene sheets are actually a lining that is affixed before papering the wall. Polystyrene sheets help to reduce the potential for condensation. Avoid using this material on walls that are subject to a lot of abuse because it can easily crack.

Woodchip Paper

Woodchip paper is a wall covering that is the product of particle wood sandwiched between a couple of layers of paper. Woodchip paper is easily hung on the wall and inexpensive, but it has to be painted.

Washable Wallpaper

Washable wallpaper is printed with a thin glaze that creates a spongy texture on the surface. This kind of wall covering is excellent for the kitchen because grease and food particles can be easily cleaned from this kind of paper.

Cork-Faced Wallpaper

Cork-faced paper is a wall covering that has been treated with a thin sheeting of cork. The darker nature of this type of paper creates a woody effect that is an excellent choice for a person who wants to create that kind of old-fashioned gentlemen's club ambience.

Relief Wallpaper

Relief wallpaper feature an embossed pattern that can easily hide small imperfections in the wall beneath. The relief work is usually painted and can provide a sense of museum-style elegance to a room.

Foam-Plastic Wall Covering

Foamed-plastic wall covering is made of lightweight polythene and features no backing paper. Application is accomplished by pasting the wall rather than the paper. Walls with nicks and other imperfections are not ideal candidates for foamed-plastic wall covering.

Ceramic Wall Tiles

Ceramic wall tiles are a wall covering option for those who wish to avoid wallpapering. Most ceramic tiles are coated with a glazed layer that makes them much more durable and waterproof. Unglazed ceramic tiles are not as durable and are also usually more subtly coloured and decorated.

Grass Cloth Wall Covering

Grass cloth wall covering is made from grass that has been woven into a mat. This mat is then glued to a paper backing to create a very earth-conscious design effect. The downside is that while grass cloth does look striking, it is also fragile and can be difficult to apply to the wall.

Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tiles are smaller than ceramic tiles and most often come pre-joined, although you can buy individual tiling. This latter method is time-consuming to apply. The shapes of mosaic tiles are diverse: rectangles, hexagons, circles and squares.


Panelling if often used to cover up walls in poor condition. The exception to this concept is that you don't want to cover up a wall with moisture problems with panels. Panelling can be applied with either horizontal or vertical panels.

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