leafy wallcovering office space

While wallcoverings used to be synonymous with dated interiors, in recent years they’ve made a comeback. Thanks to the wide variety of patterns and prints and a long list of benefits, wallcoverings have become a staple in many commercial environments.

What is a Wallcovering?

Wallcoverings are a type of finishing that can be used in both commercial and residential spaces. The term encompasses everything from wallpaper to textured fabrics and has a range of benefits including both functional and design properties.

Wallcovering vs. Painting

When determining if a wallcovering is the right finishing for your space, it’s important to compare it against your other option: painting. Depending on the budget, design, and foot traffic, the answer may be different.


When it comes to painting vs. wallcoverings, painting typically requires less upfront costs. Because paint is typically less expensive than wallcoverings and painting requires less precision work than installing a wallcovering – which might require perfectly lining up prints and patterns to hide seams – a professional team will charge less to paint a room than to apply wallcoverings.

When determining costs, however, it’s important to consider the lifespan of finishes. While wallcoverings tend to cost more upfront, when installed by a professional painter, they tend to last longer than a paint job. Because there isn’t the constant upkeep of refinishing your rooms, the cost of wallcoverings tends to even out with painting over time.

Design Options

Depending on how you want your space to look, the choice between wallcovering or painting may be a simple one. Painting is a great, low up-front cost option for a room that you want to have one color. But if you’re looking to add a pattern to your wall, you’ll want to look at your wallcovering options.  

If you’re using wallpaper to put a pattern on your wall, make sure to work with an experienced wallcoverings specialist to ensure a seamless finish with fully aligned patterns.

Foot Traffic

Areas with high foot-traffic such as entryways and hallways are perfect for wallcoverings. Because wallcoverings can easily be cleaned – scrubbable wallpapers can be cleaned with a sponge and washable papers only need a gentle cloth – they’re the perfect solution for these spaces that are prone to scuff marks. Instead of requiring a fresh coat of paint to clean, a wipe down of the wallpaper can have them looking good as new.  

The Benefits of Wallcoverings

In addition to the style and design benefits of wallcoverings, they also provide a variety of functional benefits.

Acoustic Benefits

Wallcoverings can be used to help reduce noise in rooms. While they won’t be able to fully soundproof a room – though there are some multi-step solutions for that – they can help significantly reduce the noise coming from a space.

Spaces such as board rooms, private office, hotel rooms, condominiums, and movie theaters would all benefit from a sound absorbing wallpaper application.

To ensure your wallcovering reduces as much noise as possible, hire a professional that has installed sound-absorbing wallcoverings before.

Maintenance Benefits

As mentioned previously, wallcoverings have some added maintenance benefits. Because many wallcoverings are scrubbable or washable, it’s easy to maintain a clean look in high-traffic areas.

In addition to being easy-to-clean, when installed properly wallcoverings can last decades, making the maintenance costs minimal. When compared to paint, which needs to be consistently retouched from scuffs, chips, and cracks, wallcoverings can add up to a high long-term cost savings.

Choosing a Type of Wallcovering

Once you’ve decided that you’re going to use wallcoverings for your space, you’ll have to narrow down your option for what type to use (or you can have a professional help).

Contract Commercial Wallcoverings

There are several popular commercial wallcovering options that are used specifically for facilities such as apartment buildings, hotels, retail outlets, and hospitals. They were created to meet specific performance and physical characteristic outlined in federal specifications for commercial properties.

These coverings include:

  • Vinyl Coated Paper: A paper substrate that has been sprayed or coated with a decorative surface made of acrylic type vinyl or PVC. Because it’s durable and easy to clean, this is a great solution for an area that is more prone to grease and moisture such as the office kitchen or bathrooms.
  • Paper Backed and Solid Sheet Vinyl: This covering is constructed with a paper substrate laminated to a solid decorative surface. They are durable, can peel back off if necessary, and can withstand being scrubbed. While it’s durable, it isn’t durable enough to work well for your entryways or hallways. Instead, consider it for your employee break rooms.
  • Fabric Backed Vinyl: This style has a fabric or artificial substrate, which is laminated to a solid vinyl decorative surface. There are two main types: solid vinyl and paper. Solid vinyl is ideal for spaces that require easy cleaning and durability, while paper can vary widely and should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

These wallcoverings come in three types:

  • Type I: Light duty for areas with light to moderate traffic.
  • Type II: Medium/heavy duty for use in high traffic areas and public areas.
  • Type III: For heavy traffic areas that require more wall protection.

Specialty Commercial Wallcoverings

While common wallcoverings are beneficial for areas higher traffic areas, specialty wallcoverings are available to help add dramatic effects to rooms. While highly decorative, these options should only be used in low traffic areas. These include:

  • String Effect: This effect is created with thin vertical threads laminated to a paper type substrate. Because it can’t withstand a lot of wear and tear, it’s a great solution for a low-traffic area such as an office or boardroom.
  • Natural Textile Wallcovering: These coverings are typically laminated to a backing for additional dimensional stability and to help prevent the adhesive from coming to the surface.
  • Acoustical Wallcovering: For areas where sound needs to be absorbed and controlled, these coverings are ideal. As previously mentioned, they are often used in meeting rooms, theaters, and auditoriums, among other locations.

Which is Right for You?

Commercial wallcoverings are truly versatile and can be customized to work best for your space. From high-traffic hospital halls to a small hotel lobby, there’s an option that will work for every space.

To help determine the right type of wallcovering for your space, we suggest consulting a commercial painter with experience installing commercial-grade wallcoverings. Not only will they be able to offer the best advice on materials, but you can rest assured knowing your wallcovering will be installed correctly so it will last for years to come.

For help with a seamless, long-lasting wallcovering installation, contact Independence Painting Co. today.