Wallcoverings Industry Responds to Pandemic with Performance Materials and Enhanced Cleanability

April 22, 2021

Many Wallcoverings Association members are committed to helping specifiers and facility managers comply with emerging protocols for more stringent cleaning and disinfecting through their products.

The wallcoverings industry continues to introduce high-performance materials that can be cleaned and disinfected using the EPA’s List N of Disinfectants for Coronavirus. Wallcovering providers have expanded their wide selection of materials that are low-VOC, scrubbable, durable, antimicrobial and able to be disinfected with bleach-based detergents and other agents on the EPA’s List N.

Additionally, wallcovering manufacturers have been working since the onset of the pandemic to test wall finishes using these EPA-recommended disinfectants and cleaners. This research includes widely used cleaning practices such as electrostatic sprayers and bleach-based disinfectants. For test results and cleaning recommendations for specific products, check with your wallcovering supplier.

Wallcoverings Association members, including the seven listed below, are committed to helping specifiers and facility managers comply with emerging, more stringent cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Superior Standards for Wallcoverings

Len-Tex has been testing many disinfectants for changes (such as yellowing or ink discoloration) that occur from repeated applications of disinfectants and cleaners through various methods, including contact testing and electrostatic spraying. The company reports no observable changes on any of their wallcoverings after repeated treatments, and recommends Hydrolyte by PCT Corp and Nixall by Seriously Clean.

Both disinfectants are listed on the EPA’s N List and are effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19. All Len-Tex wallcoverings can be safely disinfected using Hydrolyte and Nixall, including the company’s newest designs.

[Related: Residential and Commercial Markets “Pandecorate” with Functional Wallcoverings]

National offers Sibilance, a collection of digitally printed acoustical wallcoverings that are antimicrobial and antibacterial. The collection uses Fosshield, the same technology incorporated into the SpectraShield 9500 N95 surgical respirator mask. Fosshield’s silver and copper ions are incorporated into the polyester fiber and naturally attack microbes, inhibiting the growth of bacteria, mold and fungus.

Ions bind to any microbes that may be present on the fiber and disable their critical functions, protecting against such diseases as:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Human rhinovirus (common cold)
  • Streptococcus pyogenes (strep)
  • Legionella pneumophilia (Legionnaires disease)
  • Human coronavirus (SARS surrogate)
  • Feline calicivirus (Norwalk virus)

Sibilance is made from 100% recycled polyester and coated for maximum stain resistance. Plus, for every yard of Sibilance wallcovering, 80 plastic bottles are recycled.

Versa Wallcovering has launched a new collection of Type II, PVC-free commercial wallcovering that provides an alternative material that doesn’t compromise performance or cleanability. The wallcovering offers the same look, feel and performance of luxury vinyl wallcovering but in a PVC-free substrate.

[Related Product: Versa Wall Protection]

The 20-ounce product line features 12 versatile patterns, including signature designs Elka and Lithic and companion textures Elka Texture and Lithic Texture. The material contains 20% recycled content and features enhanced scrubbability and resistance to scratching and abrasion. It is bleach-cleanable using a one to 10 bleach/water maximum ratio. It also can be cleaned with a 60-70% alcohol solution, 4.5% hydrogen peroxide agent, Spartan DMQ or Virex II 256.

Level Digital Wallcoverings has introduced a new rigid wall protection called Targa. The new material is a clear PETG sheet, .040 inches thick, with the image printed on the back side, encapsulating it against the wall and protecting it from wear and abrasion.

These rigid panels absorb the impact from objects such as hospital gurneys and luggage carts, maintaining the integrity of the wall. Its resistance to stains and impacts makes Targa ideal for high-traffic environments in hospitals, medical offices, restaurants, dining halls, hotels, airports, schools and fitness centers.

Targa can be disinfected using a variety a cleaners on EPA’s List N, including Lysol, Clorox and Maquat. Any design in the Level collection can be specified with Targa as its base material. Targa is available in both 4-by-8- and 4-by-10-foot sheets and is precision-trimmed at the factory.

For top performance and cleanability, MDC offers Duratec, a flexible wall protection with the aesthetics of wallcovering and many of the performance features of rigid panels. Duratec is engineered to withstand scuffs, cuts, chemical exposures and collision impact without showing visible signs of wear and tear.

Its construction is similar to LVT flooring with a proprietary top wear layer that protects the pattern, color and texture from everything from scratches to tough impact collisions. The surface can be cleaned with alcohol, ammonia, full strength bleach and all alkali and acid-based chemicals.

Flex Decorative Wall Protection from Koroseal combines the beauty of wallcoverings with enhanced durability and cleanability. Flex is a heavy-duty, flexible wallcovering with a protective coating and is available in a variety of patterns, textures and colors. The Type III vinyl wallcovering is well suited for high-traffic areas subject to abrasion, soiling and wear. It can be easily cleaned and disinfected with bleach solutions outlined in the CDC guidelines without damaging the surface. 

Colour & Design recommends Aqua-Clear protected wallcoverings for healthcare and hospitality. The formula for this protective top coat has been recently modified to reflect the growing demand for ultra-low emitting, water-based materials. The result is better scrubbability with commercial cleaners including a 50% bleach solution. Wallcoverings with Aqua-Clear are durable enough to withstand most disinfectant and cleaning products, exceeding the CDC-recommended bleach disinfecting solution for non-porous surfaces.

Continuing to Study and Evolve

Cleaning protocols used by public facilities are still evolving, but Wallcoverings Association members are being proactive in testing against new practices and are releasing test information as it becomes available. In addition, the Wallcoverings Association is facilitating the development of industry cleaning guidelines that demonstrate efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. In that effort, the WA is tracking the work of other organizations such as ASID, the EPA, the Vinyl Sustainability Council, the Chemical Fabric and Film Association (CFFA), and the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA).

For more information on wallcoverings, visit

Read Next: Creating Sanitary Walls with Wallcoverings Engineered for Cleanability

Matthew Jones is executive director of the Wallcoverings Association, a nonprofit trade association that represents wallcoverings manufacturers, distributors and suppliers. The WA educates consumers, designers and specifiers about the beauty and use of wallcoverings.

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