Vinyl is a synthetic man-made plastic material that is widely used in construction due to its durability and effectiveness. It's also been used in manufacturing wallcoverings for over a century now.
Vinyl wallpaper consists of a base and a vinyl film that is layered on top. This process is done to create a durable wallpaper that is thick, washable and long-lasting.
However, when you're talking about "vinyl wallpaper," you need to know the specifics because there are actually three types of vinyl wallpaper to choose from. They're similar but each kind has a different threshold of wear and tear it can withstand.
Knowing this is helpful in determining what type of vinyl backing you need in a particular room when you're in the planning stage. This is ordered from weakest to strongest.
Vinyl coated wallpaper has a paper base that is treated with a chemical form of vinyl, such as acrylic vinyl. The coating adds an extra layer of protection from humidity and moisture. This options is the weakest of the three but can still be used in most rooms of the house, even the bathroom as long as it's above the wainscoting. Just keep in mind, it can tear and scratch easily. A great aspect of vinyl coated paper is that you get some amount of durability without the plastic feel (which we will explain in a minute). In fact, most vinyl coated patterns feel very similar in look and feel to non woven wallpaper.
Solid vinyl wallpaper is made completely of vinyl. This is the option that most people think about when they're searching for vinyl wallpaper. It's scratch and tear resistant and able to be scrubbed with a lot of water. This option is best suited for a child’s room, kitchens (especially backsplashes) and bathrooms. The downside is that is can look cheap and kind of plastic looking. Not all solid vinyl patterns look this way but they definitely have the tendency to look this way, especially the cheaper ones. There are lots of cute and whimsical solid vinyl wallpapers on the market but you won't find this option once you get into higher priced designer patterns. It should also be noted that most solid vinyl wallpapers will be prepasted so you will not need to purchase any additional glue.
Fabric backed vinyl wallpaper, consists of a thick woven fabric base that is used instead of paper. The fabric base is best suited for areas with high foot traffic. Fabric backed vinyl wallpaper is categorized in two groups. Light duty fabric backed vinyl wallpaper is called Type I or 15 Oz (terms can be used interchangeably). Medium to heavy duty fabric backed vinyl wallpaper is called Type II or 20 Oz (terms can also be used interchangeably). This type of wallpaper is used is commercial spaces because it can handle a heavy beating and still hold up, however, many people also use it in their homes because it lasts a very, very long time.