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Wallpaper Glossary

Accent Wall

The wall in a room where additional work has been done to attract attention.

Accordion Folding

A technique used to gently deliver wallpaper from the work station to the wall. The wallpaper is gently folded like an accordion, without creating creases, so that it is easier to move the paper with the minimum mess.

Acrylic Coated/Vinyl Coated Paper

Refers to the type of paper and treatment it undergoes during manufacturing, acrylic coated or vinyl coated paper is made to be durable and easy to clean. They are ideal for rooms that are humid or messy, particularly kitchens and bathrooms, but are also good for entry rooms.

Aeration of Adhesives

Small holes caused by air bubbles in the adhesive on a strip of wallpaper, often created during the mixing process. It can lead to blistering of the wallpaper if not rectified.

All-over Design

A room that has a consistent wallpaper pattern so that no one place is emphasized over the rest of the room .


The molding around doors, window, and other openings in the wall.


The molding located at the bottom of a wall. Similar to the chair rail, the baseboard is meant to hide scuffs and markings from chairs, furniture, or shoes. Baseboards are also called skirting.


A small bubble of air behind the wallpaper. Common causes of wallpaper blisters are aerated adhesives, improper application of paste or water or rest time after application, a room with a temperature less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the installation, and neglecting to prime porous walls prior to installation.


Another name for a double roll.


Once a strip of wallpaper is wetted (prepasted) or paste added (unpasted), it will typically be set down to rest. The wallpaper is gently folded so that the top and bottom edges meet in the middle. This gives the adhesive time to activate before installation.


A narrow strip of wallpaper that is installed horizontally over the primary wallpaper. Usually borders are applied to the ceiling to hide uneven application of the vertical strips or to highlight certain aspects of the room. Borders can also be applied just above the baseboard or on either side of chair rails.


The term refers to how well water can pass through the wallpaper. While it typically refers to more industrial strength wallcoverings, some wallpapers, like fiberglass, are also breathable.

Butted Seam/Butt Joint

The seam between two strips. The edges of the strips just barely touch and there is no overlap or gap between the strips.

Cellulose Paste

A type of paste made from cotton, plants, wood pulp, or other natural material. Cellulose paste does not stain and has no odor, and is usually applied with natural wallpapers, like linens, bamboos, and grasscloths.


Using the most dominant part of a wallpaper pattern to draw the eye to a focal point, like the fireplace or piano.

Chair Rail

Originally added to walls to reduce the amount of scrapping and scratches from chairs against the wall, the chair rail is a molding installed at the average height of the tops of chairs. Today it provides an elegant look to rooms and offers a way to create two different looks, such as painting above the rail and wallpaper below it.

Color Change

When manufacturers change the colors used for a particular pattern; the pattern remains the same, but the colors will be slightly different from the previous run.

Color Run

The amount of a particular color and pattern a manufacture produces until the color runs out. Each color run is different, even when the same colors are specified because the mixing process will never produce exactly the same color twice. There are slight variations between each color run.

Color Wheel

The traditional alignment of colors on a wheel to show their relationship to each other. For example, red, orange, and yellow are next to each other because they are considered warm or hot colors. The cool colors are green, blue, and purple.

Color Way

The term describes the particular color used in a pattern. There are usually multiple color ways for a single pattern.

Cornice/Crown Molding

The molding located between the top of the wall and the ceiling. It is similar to the baseboard, but is more for decoration than hiding blemishes caused by bumps and scrapes against the wall.

Cross Seaming

When wallpaper is installed over walls with an existing seam, such as paneling, the wallpaper is usually installed horizontally instead of vertically. The wallpaper crosses the seams, preventing the seams of the underlying wall from showing through the wallpaper.


The area of the wall between the baseboard and chair rail.

Dead Corner

Another term for kill point.

Double Cut

Double cutting is when wallpaper is overlapped during installation, then cut through both layers. This is usually done around doorways or wall borders, helping to hide the seams. The extra wallpaper is removed and the wall is wiped down to remove the remaining adhesive.

Double Roll

In the US, wallpaper is typically priced in single rolls, but sold in double rolls. The double roll is one long strip of wallpaper so that the roll is double the width of a single roll

Drop Match

A wallpaper with a drop match pattern creates a diagonal sequence in the room. To create the effect, every other strip will be identical. The strips in between will have the pattern dropped by half of the pattern length from the ceiling.


The length of the wallpaper made to fit a certain area. A strip that starts at the ceiling and goes to the floor is a full drop. If a strip runs from a chair rail to the floor it is partial drop.

Dry Hanging

Another term for pastes-the-wall application of wallpaper.

Dry Strippable

Wallpaper that can be removed without water or additional preparation.

Dye-lot Number

Each batch of wallpaper produced in manufacturing during a single run is given a dye-lot number. When hanging wallpaper you want to ensure that you have the same dye-lot number for all of your rolls because there is usually a slight color variation between the different dye-lots. It is often obvious when two dye-lots were used within a room. It is also called a run number or batch number.

Easy Match

During the installation process, the wallpaper strips are matched using designated points. This makes the entire process far easier as you don’t have to guess about how to line up the patterns to create the desired effect. Once the wallpaper is hung, the points are removed with a damp sponge.

Easy walls

Easy walls refers to the wallpaper material, which is a substrate that does not have vinyl, PVC, or VOC. The inks are water-based, making an incredibly environmentally-friendly wallpaper. As a further incentive, it is usually pre-pasted and easy to remove, so when you want to redo the room, you won’t have to worry about tearing up the walls.


Wallpaper with a raised texture or the look of a raised texture.

Expanded Vinyl

The primary benefit of expanded vinyl wallpaper is that special inks are used to create a textured look. When the inks heat up, they expand so that wallpaper appears to have texture. It is popular for several different faux looks, like brick and stone, but is also used with paintable wallpapers.


A term used to mean fake or imitation, such as faux brick, faux grasscloth, or faux stone. They closely imitate the original when the thing being imitated will not work.


The area of the wall between the chair rail and the ceiling.

Free Match

Free match refers to the wallpaper pattern, which is the easiest type to install. During the installation process, wallpaper can be hung without any preplanning as there is no set matching requirements. The most popular kinds tend to be textured patterns, such as grasscloth. Another name for this kind of pattern is the  random match pattern.

Fabric-backed Vinyl

Any wallpaper that has a fabric backing falls into this category. They are incredibly durable, making them ideal for locations that see a lot of traffic, increasing the amount of scratches and bumping they will be able to endure on a daily basis.


This particular type of wallpaper is popular because each pattern is unique. Grasscloth is handcrafted using entirely natural materials and give a room a textured look that cannot be achieved by other kinds of wallpaper. The primary drawbacks are that they are difficult to clean, often requiring a professional cleaner if stains and smudges are not treated immediately, and they do not do well in humidity (grasscloths are discouraged for bathrooms and kitchens).

Half Drop

A drop match pattern that requires dropping the pattern half way down the repeat and aligning it with the ceiling line to keep the pattern consistent. Every other strip will be identically hung. The ones in between will be dropped half way down the repeat. To ensure that you have adequate wallpaper you will need to order more wallpaper than just the square footage of the walls to be wallpapered. There will be more waste with half drop patterns than most other pattern matches.

Header Strip

Wallpaper that is made or cut specifically for the wall above doors and windows.

Heavy-weight Vinyl

To add an embossed pattern, heavy-weight vinyl is required. This particular type of wallpaper is very luxurious and can be relatively costly to hang in a room.

Kill Point

Kill point is a term to indicate when a four-room wallpaper project reaches the end. The kill point is the place where the last strip is applied and touches the first strip. When you start a project, you should hang the first strip in a place that is least noticeable or likely to be covered when the room is furnished because it is very likely that the pattern on the first strip and the last strip will not be aligned exactly. Dead corner is another name for a kill point.

Linear Feet

When working with wallpaper, measurements are done in linear feet. You will talk about the strips, wall length, border position, and other length measurements in linear feet.

Liner Paper

Liner paper is a type of thick vinyl wallcovering that is installed before installing decorative wallpaper. The paper is also used to cover other types of walls, such as panels or stone, smoothing out the surface so that wallpaper has a more even appearance. They may be hung across seams to hide older seams, such as paneling.


The term refers to where a pattern aligns, or matches, between strips. The type of match is usually indicated either on the website or on the roll information (in stores). The easiest type of match pattern to hang is the random match. The most difficult is the multi-drop match. If you plan to install wallpaper, make sure to select a match that does not exceed your skill level (if you have never hung wallpaper, find a match that is either a random or straight match).


Another name for a wallpaper sample.


A piece of ornamental wood added to walls for visual aesthetics. Baseboards and chair rails are molding that also serve to protect the wall from damage at their respective location, such as the tops of chairs and shoes.


A design or pattern that recurs.


Murals usually refer to paintings, but there are a few examples of incredibly elegant wallpaper that makes a single picture with no repeats. When applied to a room, there are usually several pictures so that each strip is a single picture depicting a story or event. Wallpapering a mural requires a lot of planning and care during the installation process.

Muted Colors

Colors that have been softened or lessened, typically by using complementary colors.

Neutral Colors

Colors associated with the Earth, such as beige, browns, greys, and white. These colors are often used to soften other colors or to complement them.


Most wallpapers are non-breathable, or they do not allow water particles behind the wall to pass through the wallpaper.


The non-woven material is fibrous, making it easier to install and remove. They tend to be environmentally friendly as well, which is a large reason why this type of wallpaper has been gaining in popularity over the last decade.

Ombre Stripe

Wallpaper that is striped with one color that has multiple values, creating a blurred look.

Open Time

The time between when adhesive is activated and when it will dry. Each strip will need to be applied before the open time ends to ensure that the adhesive will adhere to the wall.

Outside Corner

The term used when two walls that do not face each other are joined together by a protrusion that juts out into the room.

Pad Grounds

Wallpaper that was printed during an operation using a wet background for the print.


Though not often used today, wallpaper used to be made with actual paper. The ones on the market today are environmentally friendly and show the colors of the ink in a way that is clear and aesthetically pleasing. Paper has lost popularity over the decades because it is delicate and tears easily.


Paste-the-wall is a method of installing wallpaper in which the adhesive is applied to the wall instead of the wallpaper. This is also called dry hanging.


Peelable wallpaper is easy to remove from walls, although it typically leaves some of the backing behind on the wall. Soap and water usually will remove the remnants, although it may be necessary to use a solution made specifically for removing wallpaper.

Peel and Stick

Similar to modern stamps, peel and stick wallpaper can be installed directly from the roll without water or adhesive. Once you cut a strip, peel the backing a short way down from the top and carefully set the wallpaper to the wall, smoothing out the bubbles and other problems before pulling more of the backing from the strip. It is best used on flat walls. Since it is easy to install and remove, peel and stick wallpaper can be a good starting place for novices. However, it is not as durable as other types of wallpaper and will begin to peel from the wall sooner.


A blister in the wallpaper that is caused by a protrusion in the wall, such as drywall.

Plumb Line/Chalk Line

Before beginning to hang wallpaper, it is recommended that you draw a faint line with a level in the place where you plan to hang the first strip. The line is the plumb line, and it ensures that you hang the strip straight. You can also apply chalk to a string and snap it against the wall to create a plumb line.


Prepasted wallpaper already has adhesive applied to the back. To install it, you just need to add water to activate the adhesive.


Pre-trimmed describes wallpaper where the border edges have been removed prior to wallpaper packaging.


Most walls need to be prepared before wallpaper is hung. Cleaning is always recommended, but priming is also recommended. This means filling in the gaps, holes, and cracks, as well as smoothing out bumps and other imperfections. The final step of priming is a thin coat of primer that will make the surface smoother for the actual wallpaper installation.


The term for applying wallpaper horizontally to create a striking look.

Random Match

The easiest type of wallpaper  match to install, the random match does not require you to plan how to hang each strip. There is no particular pattern to match , so you may not have any waste at the end of the process.  This kind of match is also called free match.


A pattern repeat refers to the distance between the top of a pattern or motif and the next occurrence of that pattern or motif. Textured wallpapers and wallpapers with a random match do not have repeats and have little waste at the end of the installation process. Other types of matches will have waste based on the size of the repeat. The larger the repeat, the more extra wallpaper you will need to ensure you have enough to complete the project.

Reverse Hanging

The term to describe hanging one strip from top to bottom, flipping the next strip so that the bottom part is placed at the ceiling line. This technique can lessen or negate problems with colors, such as shading.

Run Number

Another name for the dye-lot number.


Wallpaper companies provide samples of the wallpaper upon request. Samples include at least one full repeat and give customers the opportunity to see how well the pattern and colors work in the room to be wallpapered.


The term used to describing perforating wallpaper prior to removal. Scoring allows for the removal solution to penetrate the wallpaper to weaken the adhesive, making the removal process easier.


Wallpapers that are described as scrubbable are durable enough to withstand being scrubbed when they have a stain or blemish. They are more durable than washable wallpaper, which can be washed, but will not withstand more vigorous scrubbing.

Seam Roller

A tool sued to smooth seams between strips.


An undesirable effect at the seams of wallpaper where the pattern or texture appears off because of the coloring or heavier ink in a particular spot. Reverse hanging often fixes or hides the problems.

Single Roll

The standard used by American manufacturers to describe the size of a roll of wallpaper. While wallpaper rolls are measured in single rolls, virtually all manufacturers sell only double rolls.


Similar to primer, sizing is applied to walls prior to installing wallpaper. It fills the small gaps and pores so that the wall is smoother. Many primers have taken this need into account and have added sizing to the final product, so that you usually will not need both products.


Another name for baseboards.

Solid Sheet Vinyl

To create an inviting texture, some manufactures will emboss a 100% vinyl sheet. This makes the final product very durable and elegant. They are usually scrubbable and peelable.

Straight Match/Straight Across Match

A straight match pattern will align with the last strip starting at the ceiling line. Stripes are a popular straight match pattern.


The easiest wallpaper to remove, strippable wallpaper does not require any extra work to peel it from the walls. You do not need to wet it or apply anything to peel it, and it will not leave anything behind to cleanup. Typically strippable wallpaper is on a non-woven substrate.


Wallpaper that does not have any kind of adhesive applied to the back of the wallpaper. You will need to purchase the adhesive separately before you can install the wallpaper.


Wallpaper that has not been prepared for the application of a trim or border. The border edges are still on the roll when it is packaged. The people installing the wallpaper need to trim the edges before installing it.


Washable wallpaper can be cleaned using a damp cloth or sponge without sustaining any damage. It will not withstand scrubbing or pressure for darker or older stains.

Wet Strippable

Wet strippable wallpaper can be dampened and then peeled from the wall. It should largely peel in a single strip.

Wipe with a Damp Cloth

The most delicate wallpaper that will not withstand most types of cleaning. When you use the damp cloth, you cannot apply pressure as the wallpaper is fragile.