Home Wallpaper Glossary


Faux finish or Trompe l’oeil: Faux finish or trompe l’oeil wallpapers are a style that replicates realistic textures from real life such as wood textures, animal skin, porcelain tiles, brick, and concrete etc. The wallpapers have an authentically realistic three dimensional look of the actual material they replicate. They ‘trick the eye’ and often are so realistic that you need to get close to understand the surface is actually two dimensional.

Standard Double Roll or Bolt: Roll sizes vary by retailer and product type. At walls republic a typical residential roll is 33 feet OR 10.05 meterslong while products like Grasscloth come in larger dimensions. [Note: At Walls Republic all wallpapers are sold and priced by the double roll]

Standard Single Roll: While sizes vary the standard single residential roll measures 16.5 feet OR 5.02 meters long. A single roll is half the amount of wallpaper in a bolt (double roll) [Note: At most retailers and online stores, other than Walls Republic, wallpapers are sold by the double roll and priced by the single roll]

*When buying residential wallpaper and comparing prices make sure you take into account the different roll sizes.

Border: Borders are long narrow strips of wallpaper that can be used on their own or overtop of other wallpapers. They can be applied like trim at the top of a wall, along the middle of the wall to break up the wall like wainscoting, or along the base of the wall to define the edge. See example here.

Colourway: A colourway refers to the multiple colours available for one pattern. Most wallpaper patterns are available in a set of different colours to meet the needs of your space. See example here.

Commercial Wallcovering: Commercial wallcoverings are designed and manufactured to be durable and tough in high traffic areas for commercial use. They have a width wider than the standard residential wallcovering ranging from 50” to 54” in width and sold by the square foot. They are anti-bacterial, stain resistant, environmentally friendly, easy-care, and washable.

Residential Wallcovering: Wallpaper suitable for use in the home in a variety of applications and spaces. At Walls Republic all residential wallcoverings are paste the wall (with the exception of grasscloth and mica) making them easy for any DIY (do it yourself) driven personality. See Residential Wallcoverings here.

Swatch or Sample: Wallpaper retailers offer sample sizes of wallpaper so that you can get a feel for the wallpaper in person and up on your wall before making a purchasing decision and commitment. At walls republic we offer 5 free samples with a flat rate of $10 for shipping in the US and Canada. Most other wallpaper retailers will charge for every sample ordered. Sample sizes at Walls Republic range from A4 (8” x 11”) to 19” x 21” depending on the pattern selection and type of paper and will also vary among other companies.

Wall Mural: Wall Murals are digitally printed wallcoverings available in large sizes and often used as a feature wall. Every wall mural is like a unique piece of art and can be custom sized or custom designed to your unique and individualized needs. Custom wall murals can be requested for commercial use as well.

Flock: Flocked wallpapers have a raised velvet-like texture comprised of very fine cotton, silk, rayon, or nylon fibers to evoke luxurious and lush feelings. While a traditional style they have been given many contemporary updates to make them fashionable and trendy in today’s times.

Glass Bead: Glass bead wallcoverings look like glitter from far away but when up close you will notice its composition of thousands of little glass beads creating a shimmering effect. Glass bead wallpapers are highly luxurious for an elegant look with a glistening texture.

Grasscloth: Grasscloth is a natural wallcovering comprised of woven plant fibers which varies between rolls due to its organic natural nature making it a very one-of-a-kind product. The seams which occur naturally also add to the beauty and appeal of this product. With different woven densities grasscloth can have a more casual or more elegant look depending on the style chosen. More on Grasscloth here!

Mica: Mica is a wallcovering comprised of small chips of mica, a mineral that is formed by a natural reaction between quartz and granite. The stones create an unmatched texture and jewel like quality that will have a brilliant effect in your interiors and are a very popular choice for a powder room.

Expanded Vinyl: Expanded vinyl, or blown vinyl paper, is heavily textured vinyl wallpaper that is great for damaged walls or rough surfaces and they are often paintable.

Fabric Backed Vinyl: This wallcovering has a substrate laminated to a solid vinyl decorative surface. This type of wallpaper construction is mainly used in commercial projects such as in offices, hotels etc.

Lining Paper: Lining paper is a plain material used over cracked or rough wall surfaces in order to obtain a smoother surface and create better adhesion for your wallcovering.

Non-Woven: Non-woven wallpapers are made of a fibrous material making them easier to install and remove. They are technically advanced wallcoverings that are dry-strippable which leaves the wall smooth and clean.

Paper: Paper backed wallpapers vary widely but generally refers to wallpaper with a paper substrate where the embellished layer is printed on top. Genuine papers are not coated but some might have a coating in order to seal in the inks.

Paper Backed Vinyl/ Solid Sheet Vinyl:This wallcovering has a substrate laminated to a solid vinyl decorative surface. It is very durable as the decorative surface is a solid sheet of vinyl making it scrubbable and peelable. Removal of paper backed vinyl at times can be challenging.

Silkscreen/Hand-screen Printed: This is a printing process where silk is stretched over frames and patterning is printed either entirely by hand or part machine, part by hand. These designs are recommended for low traffic areas.

Solid Vinyl: Solid vinyl is the most durable type of wallpaper consisting of a vinyl film coating which is added to the surface before the pattern is printed on. The decorative surface is a solid sheet of vinyl which makes the wallcovering durable, easy to clean, scrubbable, and moisture and stain resistant since it has no holes through which water can penetrate in comparison to other vinyl wallcoverings that have a spongy porous composition. With this in mind, solid vinyl is the perfect choice for a bathroom or kitchen since it resists humidity, water, and stains and is more durable than fabric-backed or paper-backed vinyls.

Substrate: The backing of wallpaper that is laminated to the design layer.

Surface Printing: Surface printing is typical machine printing where a raised design on the roller is transferred onto the wallcovering surface.

Vinyl: A man made material used to produce wallpapers.

Vinyl Coated Wallpaper: Vinyl coated papers have a thin layer of acrylic or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) applied over the paper they are scrubbable and strippable to suit most areas. They are more resistant to grease and moisture than plain papers making them ideal for bathrooms and kitchens.

Paste the Wall: A type of wallcovering where paste is applied directly to the wall and the wallcovering is pasted on top dry. Paste the wall wallcoverings are perfect for first time wallpaper installers or those interested in DIY. Paste-the-wall wallcoverings are ideal since they do not need to soak as do traditional wallcoverings and they are easy to move since they are dry strippable. At Walls Republic all of our wallcoverings use paste-the-wall technology with the exception of grasscloth and mica.At other retailershanging type varies and therefore you should always read the label to ensure you know what you are getting.

Pre-Pasted: Pre-pasted wallpaper has already been coated with adhesive by the manufacturer. In order to activate the adhesive you must dip the strip in water. Mostly products at the low end of the market use the pre-pasted technique.

Un-pasted/Paste-the-paper: Apply paste to the wallpaper.


Dry Strippable: Dry strippable wallcoverings like paste the wall papers can be removed completely without using water and leaves no residue. You simply lift up a corner and peel off the wallcovering in an entire strip.

Peelable: Peelable wallcoverings enable you to remove the top layer without water while the bottom layer stays on the wall as a liner paper and requires water for removal.

Wet Removable: Wet removable wallcoverings require the wallpaper to be moist and softened with water before you can remove it. Remove the wallcovering using a scraper once moistened. Soften wallpaper with water and/or a stripping agent to reactivate the adhesive and remove using a scraper.
*When old wallcoverings are removed the adhesives should be sanded or washed off the wall as they are a source for mold and mildew. Left over adhesive also creates an uneven surface which is difficult to adhere to.

Butt Seam: Most common wallpaper seam where the two edges of both strips of wallpaper are closely pressed together without any overlap or spacing between the strips.

Double Cut Seam: Double cut seam is a type of wallpaper seam where used in cases where it is necessary to overlap two strips of wallpaper while avoiding a raised edge. For example if a wallpaper border is being utilized to divide a wall with complimentary wallpapers above and below the border. At the center the two wallcoverings would overlap and be cut along a straightedge through both overlapping papers. This is done both at the top and bottom edge creating a perfect butt seam.

Dye-Lot [Run Number]: Dye-lot is series of numbers and/or letters given to a specific batch of wallpaper rolls that have been printed at the same time. When a new ink is used or a different batch gets printed the dye lot number changes. Before beginning any wallpaper job it is very important to check that all rolls have the same dye lot number so that colours will appear the same within each roll. Between different dye lots there can be slight variations in colour making this simple step crucial in the preparation of your wallpaper project.

Plumb Line: A weighted line that is used to create a vertical line ensuring that each strip of wallpaper is hung perfectly straight.

Railroading: Railroading is the horizontal application of wallpaper.

Seam: The line where two strips of wallpaper match together to form continuous wallcovering.

Selvage: Either edge of a roll of wallpaper that has no design for the purpose of protecting the wallcovering design.

Strip: A strip is the length of wallpaper cut to fit the height of the wall.

Vinyl over Vinyl Adhesive: Vinyl over vinyl adhesive is used to adhere one vinyl wallcovering to another such as borders or full sheets of vinyl wallpaper over existing vinyl. They are composed of synthetic polymers, starch etc.

Wallcovering ADHESIVES: Wallcovering adhesives are specially designed to hang wallpaper from lightweight grasscloth to heavy wallcoverings. They contain preservatives which protect the adhesive within the can and to protect the adhesive once on the wall under the wallcovering from mold. They come in various types which differ in working time, strippability and its ease of application.

Pattern Match: A pattern match is the location where the pattern matches between the seams of the wallpaper. Each wallcovering is labeled with the international pattern match symbols to depict the type of match for that particular wallcovering.

Design/Pattern repeat: A pattern repeat is the vertical distance of the repetition of an entire pattern motif. Patterns with no repeats, typically textural papers, have little wastage however, larger patterns with large repeats will require more wallpaper because there is more waste since you need to match the pattern between strips. ie: if your wallcovering shows 32 CM then your pattern repeats and begins again every 32 centimeters along the vertical length of the paper.

Drop Match: Drop Matches consist of two types; half-drop and multiple drop matches.

Offset Match [or half drop match]: An offset match, sometimes referred to as a half drop, means the next strip must be shifted the height of half a pattern in order for it to match. for example if a label shows 50/25 cm offset then the design repeats every 50 cm and matches from left to right every 25 cm.

Drop Match [or multiple drop match]: Drop match patterns are the most complex patterns to match as they need to be aligned horizontally AND vertically with the wallpaper on either end. These matches create more wastage since it takes more to align these complex patterns and fit together the pattern. A drop match is a type of pattern match where every other strip of paper hung will have the same pattern design at the ceiling edge. Rather than a horizontal sequence created by straight match wallpapers this type of match forms a diagonal sequence.

Free Match or Random Match: Free match wallpapers do not require you to match or align a pattern while hanging your paper making them the easiest to work with. Random patterns are great for beginners who are new to installing wallpaper since the pattern will always look great no matter how you position and place it on the wall. These wallpapers also create less wastage as they line up randomly at the seams. Textural wallcoverings such as grasscloth or mica are perfect examples of a free match.

Reverse Alternate Length: Every other strip must be reversed

Straight Match [or straight hang]: In a straight match every strip of wallpaper will match up at the ceiling line to create a horizontal sequence.

Water resistant: Printed with water-fast colours or thinly coated with PVA. Paste or dirt on the surface can be safely removed with gentile use of a damp sponge.

Washable: Washable means that the wallpaper can be lightly cleaned with a sponge or damp cloth and suggested detergent solution. This makes it great for spaces like living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms and should clean easily with gentile sponging.

Super Washable: Highly wash resistant wallpaper is as spongeable as washable paper but is further well protected with PVA and suitable for wet zones such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Scrubbable: Scrubbable means that the wallpaper can withstand scrubbing with a brush and a prescribed detergent solution. They are more durable than washable wallpaper and can handle mild detergent which is most useful in heavy wear areas such as a kitchen, bath, or laundry room.

Moderate Lightfastness:

Satisfactory Lightfastness:

Good Lightfastness:

Very Good Lightfastness:

Excellent Lightfastness: