Wallpaper Glossary of Terms

Wallpaper Terms and Definitions
Abstract Art
Art that has no objective basis in reality which builds compositions of shape, color, form and texture. Can be organic, geometric or both.
Acanthus
A leafy plant used as a common motif in ancient Greek art, especially as ornaments in their sculptures and patterns in paintings.
Accent Wall
The wall of a room which is designed or embellished to draw the most attention, acting as a focal point of the entire space.
Accordion Folding
The wallpaper is gently folded in a zig zag pattern, like an accordion, while avoiding creases, so that it is easier to move the paper to the wall it will be installed on.
Acrylic/Vinyl Coated Paper
Paper that is specially treated during manufactuiring with an acrylic or finish which is both durable and easy to clean. These are useful in space which are prone to humidity or messes (kitchen, bath room, dining room).
Aeration of Adhesives
Air bubbles often form in the adhesive backing which may cause blistering of the surface especially when using non-breathable materials. The cause is usually from mixing the adhesive too vigorously.
All-over Design
A pattern which remains consistent throughout the room without any focal points for emphasis.
American Single Roll
Refers to a roll which contains 36 square feet - approximately 25% more surface than a Euro roll, which leads to fewer seams, but also proves more challenging to handle.
Anaglypta
Greek word for "raised ornament" refers to embossed or textured wallcovering, which appear to be elaborate plasterwork. Only comes in white. Must be painted after installation.
Anthemion
A classical pattern inspired by the honeysuckle plant, which is why it is also known as Honeysuckle ornament.
Antimicrobal
Chemical mixture typically added to a wallpaper coating to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms which can ruin the product.
Appliqué
A specific shape is die cut from wallpaper and applied like a sticker to the surface.
Architrave
The molding which frames doors, windows and other wall openings.
Art Deco
A style of art inspired by the elegance of the 1920's and 1930's, celebrated for its simplicty, symmetry and clean lines.
Baroque
An ornate and extravagant style of art dating back to 17th century Europe and characterized by elaborate detailing, dynamic forms and exaggerated scale.
Baseboard
Moldings which are installed the base of a wall and protect the surface from high traffic areas that invite scuffs and markings from people and furniture.
Blister
A small pocket or bubble of air which is trapped underneath the wallpaper. This is often the result of - * Aerated adhesives\r* Insufficient soaking time after applying adhesive to the backing\r* Improper application/r* low tempreratures (less than 50 F during install)/r* Failure to prime a porous wall before installation
Bolt
Two or three singular rolls of wallpaper sold as a continuous piece and packaged as one unit.
Booking
After paste has been applied to the wallpaper, it is often gently folded and left to rest. This not only gives the adhesive time to activate, it also allows the paper to "relax" which prevents it from shrinking or stretching after installation.
Border
A thin strip of wallpaper installed on top of the primary wallpeper along the margins of the ceiling, chair rails or base boards. It's often used to hide uneven wallpaper applications, or simply provide a visual highlight to the room.
Breathable
Wallcoverings that allow the passage of water and air. Varieties include vinyl-coated paper, fiberglass and string wallpaper.
Bridging liner
A porous material designed to cover uneven surfaces before wallpaper is applied.
Butted Seam/Butt Joint
Two panels of wallpaper are laid adjacent to each other so the edges touch without any overlapping or gap between them.
Cellulose Paste
A special paste made from cotton, plants, wood pulp, and other organic materials. It's a popular adhesive since it does not stain and has no odor. Most often used with natural wallpapers (ie - bamboos, grasscloths, linens, silks, etc)
Centering
Using å visual focal point of a wallpaper design to draw the eye to a particular spot in the room. Most often used to highlight fireplaces, furniture, artwork and other interior accents.
Chair Rail
Wall moldings installed at chair height to reduce wear and tear which also serve as a natural boundary for wallpaper applications.
Chevron
A geometric pattern which is built from a series of connected V's. Also known as saw tooth pattern.
Chinoiserie
A French term that reflects on Chinese influence in wallcoverings. Nature, animals and plants are common motifs.
Choke
The background area of the wallpaper. Also called the ground.
Color Change
The same design is printed using different inks to provide a variation of the pattern.
Color Run
The amount of a color or pattern which can be faithfully produced until the color runs out. Due to the unpredictable nature of mixing inks, there are always small variations between each color run. It is useful to know how much of a uniform pattern can be created.
Color Way
The specific color used in a pattern. Multiple color ways are common for a single pattern.
Color Wheel
The alignment of colors in a circlular wheel to illustrate their relation to one another. One of the core visual tools of color theory to establish analogous, complementary and split-complementary color schemes.
Cork
Cork veneer is shaved from blocks of cork and laminated to a surface. Cork is a natural sound and heat insulator and can also be used as a bulletin board.
Cornice/Crown Molding
The decorative molding where the wall and ceiling meet.
Cross Seaming
When wallpaper is installed over a surface that already has seams or joins. The wallpaper is installed horizontally to prevent the underlying seams from showing.
Dado
The area of the wall as measured from the chair rail to the baseboard.
Damask
A classic design pattern based on nature-inspired textiles which is noted for its intricacy and monochromatic colors.
Dead Corner
The point where the final strips of wallpaper meet. Also, known as the kill point. The wallpaper pattern is often mismatched at this location so it is common to ensure it occurs in the least visible point of the room.
Documentary wallpapers
Wallpaper that depicts or celebrates historic times, places or events.
Double Cut
Also known as an overlapping butt joint. Wallpaper is overlapped and then cut through both layers. This is often done to hide seams around doorways, windows or wall borders. After cutting, the top layer is peeled away the surface area is wiped down to remove any remaining adhesive.
Double Roll
A wallpaper roll which is double the width of a single roll.
Drop
The length of the wallpaper made to fit the height of a location. A full drop measures from the ceiling to the floor. A partial drop measures from a chair rail to the floor or baseboards.
Drop Match
Also known as a pattern drop. Creates a diagonal pattern by shifting every other strip of wall paper down by one half of the core pattern size.
Dry Hanging
Application of wallpaper to a wall with adhesive on it.
Dry Strippable
Wallpaper that can be removed without water or a large cleanup effort.
Easy Match
Designated points drawn on the wall to match up the patterns on individual strips. Once the wallpaper is installed, the points are removed with a damp sponge.
Easy walls
Environmentally friendly wallpaper which uses water-based ink and does not contain vinyl, PVC, or VOC. The inks are water-based, making an incredibly. Often sold as a pre-pasted and easy to remove product.
Embossed
Wallpaper with a raised surface for a textural effect. Most often used in classical, victorian and baroque motifs, but also suitable for modern applications.
Euro Roll
Also known as a metric roll. A single roll of wallpaper measured by the metric system which amounts to 29 square feet of surface material. Narrow widths make it easier to handle but ends up creating walls with more seams.
Expanded Vinyl
The use of thermographic inks to create a raised, textural effect on wallpaper. A temperature sensitive ink is heated, expanding its surface height. Commonly used to simulate natural surfaces (stone, bricks, earth) but can be printed in any color, for any application.
Fabric-backed Vinyl
Wallpaper backed by any type of fabric provides a durable alternative which can handle the abrasion and wear and tear of high traffic areas.
Faux
A visual (and sometimes tactile) imitation of organic patterns and surfaces. (Faux stone, Faux brick, etc)
Fill
Also known as a sidewall. The area measured from the chair rail and frieze of a wall,
Fleur de lis
A stylized depiction of the iris flower commonly used in French design.
Flock
Wallpaper which sports a cut velvet effect. This is achieved by shaking fine textiles (silk, rayon, cotton etc) over a pattern freshly printed in varnish or slow drying ink.
Floral prints or patterns
A pattern or design created from decorative prints of flowers
Flush
A term which describes two level and adjacent surfaces.
Focal point
The first wall you notice in a room. If a space has multiple entry points, the focal wall faces the room's busiest entrance.
Foils
Laminated aluminum adds metallic sheen to wallpaper. These is a highly delicate material qwhich requires great care and skill to handle.
Free Match
A wallpaper pattern that has no pattern matching requirements. Often employed with faux or textured patterns. These are the easiest wallpapers to install since you don't need to plan ahead to make the strips and patterns align.
Fret
A geometric pattern built out of interlocking, perpendicular lines. Also known as a key pattern.
Frieze
A horizontal decorative border placed at top of a room or panel.
Frieze Pattern
A pattern which repeats in one direction.
Fungicide
A chemical product that kills mold.
Geometric patterns
Any design or pattern built from basic shapes - circles, squares, rectangles, etc.
Glass textile wallcovering
Wallpaper woven with glass yarns which are designed for maximum strength, safety, and flexibility.
Gothic
A style of architecture developed in northern France. Common designs combine the soaring heights of vertical piers with the diagonal impact of buttresses, all joined together in a structure characterized by rib vaulting and pointed arches. Very popular throughout Europe from the 12th to 16th centuries.
Grasscloth
Wallpaper which is handcrafted from natural materials, providing a unique texture unattainable by other types of wallpaper. Difficult to clean and prone to warping. Not recommended for kitchens or bathrooms.
Ground
The background area of the wallpaper. Also called the choke.
Header Strip
Wallpaper that is designed to fit the spaces above doors and windows.
Heavy-weight Vinyl
A material used to create embossed patterns and effects. More expensive and difficult to handle, usually reserved for more luxurious applications.
Herringbone
A pattern built from rows of perpendicular blocks which is rotated 45 degrees for a diagonal slant.
In-register Paper Backed Vinyl
A laminated, paper-backed sheet used to create a raised or embossed effect. Withstands moisture, grease and stains.
Jute
Natural fiber made from stalks of the cochorus plant which is grown in Kerala, India.
Kill Point
The point where the final strips of wallpaper meet. Also, known as the dead corner. The wallpaper pattern is often mismatched at this location so it is common to ensure it occurs in the least visible point of the room.
Lamination
The process of building up thin layers of material and bonding them with adhesive under heat and pressure.
Lap Seam
When wallpaper is installed with the strips overlapping slightly. Commonly used for commercial installs.
Level
Perfectly horizontal or parallel to the ground.
Linear Feet
A straight line measurement in 12 inch increments used to describe strips, panels and wall lengths. Only describes the length, not the width of a surface.
Liner Paper
A blank stock of special paper applied underneath wallcoverings to create a smoother surface with a porous base for better bonding and a wallcovering that resists weathering/warping and bubbling.
Lotus
One of the earliest decorative patterns inspired by the water lilies of the Nile River.
Match
Describes how a pattern will match up at the seams of each wallpaper strip.\r\rA *straight match* is when all the top seams of the patterns are aligned. In order to achieve this, some wallpaper waste is often required since the patterns mut line up horizontally.\r\rA *drop match* is when every other strip is dropped down by a specific height to ensure a continuous pattern. This method requires even more excess wallpaper as every other panel will need a patch./r/rA *random match* requires no pattern alignment ensuring that no wallpaper is wasted.
Matte Finish
A flat, dull or non-reflective finish.
Medallion
A decorative element contained inside a round, oval, square or rectangular shape.
Memo
Another name for a wallpaper sample.
Moiré
When silk fabric subjected to heat and pressure to create a wavy, rippling effect.
Molding
A decorative use of wood to frame wall borders. Baseboards and chair rails are protective moldings designed to withstand wear and tear in commonly accessed areas.
Monochromatic
The use of one color, often in various shades of light and dark.
Motif
The recurring design or concept of a pattern.
Mural
A design that occupies two or more walls to create a continuous work of art that fills the majority of the room. Also known as scenics
Muted Colors
Colors that are deprived of vibrance or saturation by adding their complementary (opposite) colors.
Mylar
A reflective and durable film which is laminated on a fabric backing. Delivers the metallic sheen of foil without the associated stiffness and creasing. Also known as Metalized polyester.
Natural Fibers
When natural materials like bamboo, rice paper, grass, etc are laminated to a paper backing, each strip delivers a unique and organic pattern.
Neoclassical
A style of art anchored in unemotional rigidity in response to more romantic styles such as Baroque or Rococo.
Neutral Colors
Desaturated hues most readily found in nature as browns, ochres, beiges, greys, and white.
Non-breathable or Nonporous
Wallpaper which does not allow water or air particles to pass through its material.
Non-woven
A combination of natural and synthetic fibers to create a durable backing for wallpaper.
Ombre Stripe
A monochromatic pattern of stripes in multiple shades and tones.
Open Time
The window of time from when the adhesive is activated to when it dries. This is when strips can be installed.
Osnaburg
A course, burlap-like cloth invented in Osnaburg, Germany. Commonly used in vinyl coated fabric wallpapers.
Outside Corner
When two walls are joined at a corner, but not facing each other.
Pad Grounds
Wallpaper printed on a wet background.
Paisley
A colorful and ornate pattern of Persian origin which features natural motifs contained in a series of bezier curves and shapes.
Panel Decoration
Wallpaper which is framed in molding or wood paneled walls.
Paper
Was once the most popular material for wallpaper but currently not used as more durable, cheap and environmentally friendly materials have been invented.
Paper Backed Vinyl
A layer of vinyl is laminated to a paper-backing sheet creating a durable surface that is easy to clean. Also known as solid sheet vinyl.
Patina
The green film of oxidation that forms over time on copper and bronze.
Pattern Match
The alignment of wallpaper strips which ensures the pattern continues uninterrupted throughout the room.
Pattern Repeat
The vertical distance between the repeatable portions of a wallpaper pattern.
Peel and Stick
Wallpaper installed directly from the roll without water or paste. Easiest to install but not the most durable.
Peelable
Wallpaper that is easily separated from its backing, although the backing will also need to be removed when isntalling new wallpaper.
Photo Murals
Full panoramic photos are enlarged to full up the entire wall or space with scenes, places and people. Common themes are natural settings, city skylines and images of outer space.
Pimple
A blister in the wallpaper resulting from a bump or irregularity in the wall.
Plaid
A pattern of layered, perpendicular color stripes applied at varying levels of transparency and thickness. Most commonly associated with its Scottish origins.
Pliability
A wallpaper's level of flexibility.
Plumb Line
A piece of string covered in chalk dust which is suddenly pulled tight against a surface to leave a perfectly straight line. Also known as a chalk line.
Pre-Trimmed
Wallpaper with borders and edges trimmed before packaging.
Prepasted
Wallpaper that is sold with adhesive already applied. Wetting the adhesive activates it for installation.
Primer
An acrylic or oil sealant which is prepares a wall for installation. A good primer/sealer will cover any problem areas of the wall from humidity or damage. Makes wallpaper last longer and easier to both install and remove. A highly recommended and vital step of the wallpaper installation process.
Primer Size or Prep Coat
Acrylic primer that leaves a tacky surface. This surface allows wallpaper to easily adhere to the surface.
Primer/Stain Killer
A product used to spot-treat problem areas of a wall. Seals in grease stains and recurring mold, preventing them from bleeding through the wallpaper. Most include antimicrobial agents to halt the spread of mold, though it is recommended to scrub the wall with a 3 - 1 water to bleach solution before applying the product.
Priming
Aside from cleaning a wall must often be treated before hanging wallpaper. All holes, gaps, cracks and irregularities should be filled and sanded down to ensure the smoothest possible surface before sealing with at least one coat primer.
Railroading
When wallpaper is applied horizontally instead of vertically.
Reedcloth
Handmade wallpaper made of individual reeds inserted into cotton threads of a loom.
Relief
A design, illustration or pattern which is raised or embossed above a surface.
Reverse Hanging
When wallpaper strips are alternately hung "right side up" and "upside down" in papers with a random match pattern. This is used to negate reduce shading problems on the strip edges.
Rigid Vinyl Acrylic
A thicker, more resilient wallpaper material which is ideal for high traffic areas where stains, humidity and wear and tear are concerns.
Rococo
A luxurious and opulent style characteristic of the 1700s. A lighthearted, yet equally intricate alternative to the more serious and classical Baroque style.
Running
A wallpaper's length.
Sample
A small swatch of the wallpaper printed to provide a customer with a preview of the color, finish and texture of their desired wallpaper. A great and cost-effective way to ensure the client is satisfied before printing large amounts of wallpaper.
Scoring
When wallpaper is perforated to allow absorption of removal solution making deinstallation faster and easier.
Screen-printed
When stencils are used to print a design or pattern. Can be one tone or multicolored with stencils applied in layers. Also known as handprints, silk screening, hand screening, and serigraphy.
Scrubbable
Wallpapers that are durable enough to be scrubbed lightly to remove stains or blemishes.
Seam Roller
A tool sued to smooth out and adhere the seams between wallpaper strips. Can not be used with cetain types of wallpaper, most notably stringcloth, grasscloth, flock, and heavily embossed wallpaper.
Selvage
The unprinted edge of a wallpaper where crop marks and bleed marks are placed. Also protects the edges of the actual design from creasing or damage during transport.
Semi-Automated Wallcoverings
When selvages are partially cut and can be removed easily or the wallpaper is trimmed on one edge.
Shading
An undesired effect that can appear along wallcovering seams, often due to heavier ink coverage at one edge. Reverse hanging can often solve this problem.
Shiki
Hand-made Asian silk glued to a backing. Translates to "four seasons" in Japanese
Single Cut
Application of a wet sheet to a dried one with a smoother or putty knife, applying sufficient pressure so the line of the underlying paper creases the top layer. Later you score the entire wall will a single edge blase, using the creases as a guide and creating a perfect, butted seam.
Sisal
Wallpaper material created from the sisal plant.
Sizing
Similar to primer, sizing is applied to walls before installation. It's an effective way to fill gaps and pores to create a smoother surface. Some primers include sizing in the final product, so you can accomplish two tasks at once. Most commonly used on plaster walls.
Skirting
The narrow board that covers the base of walls. Also known as baseboard.
Sliding cut
A technique of wallpaper cutting by sliding a sharp knife along the edge of an underlying surface.
Smoothing Brush
A brush which gently removes wrinkles, bubbles and pockets of air from wallpaper during installation.
Square
When two walls join one another at true, 90° right angles.
Stain-resistant
A coating of acrylic, plastic, or vinyl which repels stains.
Stencil
Applying a design by brushing ink or paint through a pre-cut surface.
Straight edge
A six or seven foot ruler used by a paperhanger to trim the wallpaper selvage off.
Straight Match/Straight Across Match
When the pattern aligns horizontally at single-roll intervals. It ensurs that the starting pattern at the top of each strip is always identical.
String Effect
Fabric threads of silk or linen are aligned vertically and laminated on paper backing. Requires great care when cleaning.
Strippable
The easiest wallpaper to uninstall. Will peel off dry without water or solvents, leaving behind no adhesive or residue.
Substrate
The backing or material of a wallpaper.
Swatch
A cut sample of wallpaper, usually to indicate color, texture and finish.
Toile de Jouy (Toile)
A classical french pattern characterized by ornate, monochromatic depictions of the natural world and sometimes vignettes that tell stories. Originated in the village of Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris.
Trompe L'oeil (Loeil)
French term meaning to "trick the eye". Whether it's the simulation of a texture or surface, or the illusion of a three dimensional form, there are lots of creative ways to use wallpaper to create illusions.
Unpasted
Wallpaper that is sold without adhesive backing. Adhesive must be purchased separately for installation.
Untrimmed
Wallpaper whose selvage has not been trimmed. The installers will need to trim the edges before hanging the paper.
Wainscot
The lower portion of a wall when it has a different covering or finishes than the upper portion.
Wallpaper trough
A container used for soaking prepasted papers in water before hanging.
Warm colors
Red, yellow, orange, brown, ochre, beige and wine.
Washable
A wallpaper that can be gently cleaned with a damp rag or sponge without suffering any damage.
Wet Strippable
Wallpaper that can be dampened and peeled from the wall, usually in a single strip.
Wipe with a Damp Cloth
Most wallpapers tend to be quite delicate and customers are instructed to clean them with a damp cloth. It's important to use light strokes to clean the surface as pressing too hard can damage the print or material.

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