Residential and Commercial Markets “Pandecorate” with Functional Wallcoverings

Jan. 26, 2021

Executive director of the Wallcoverings Association Matthew Jones shares the organization’s latest findings when it comes to wallcovering trends from 2020.

What design projects are moving forward and how are they being impacted by COVID-19? The Wallcoverings Association reached out to member companies to ascertain what products have been in demand during the pandemic for both the residential and commercial markets, and what technologies are being developed to address current and projected post-pandemic needs.

We found that while many projects have ground to a halt, residential sales are being fueled by homeowners who are tired of sheltering in place, when their place lacks visual interest. Many commercial facilities are also using this downtime to rethink the functionality and look of their spaces.

Pandemic Decorating Spurs Residential Wallpaper Sales

Demand from the residential market continues to grow, with peel-and-stick wallpapers leading the way. Quarantining has forced occupants to notice interiors that look a little stale. Even if decor worked before, it may not meet the current multi-tasking challenges presented by the pandemic. 

Home must provide all things to all occupants, functioning as living spaces, offices, schools, gyms and playgrounds. Additionally, video technology has made these once private spaces public, prompting many to turn to wallpaper to project the professionalism of their former commercial office space.

Digital murals, which have long been popular in hospitality, are making an appearance in the home due to ease of installation and decorating bang for your buck. Great for an accent wall or all-over application, peel-and-stick wallpaper won’t cause damage when removed, allowing users to continually update to suit their moods and needs. 

Astek’s peel-and-stick wallpaper uses the latest advances in adhesives to guarantee simple installation and removal. The self-adhesive material is PVC-free, and the eco-friendly inks have zero VOCs. Decorating can be fast-tracked with three to five business days needed for samples and five to 10 business days needed for production of final orders. The peel-and-stick collection includes a wide range of designs, which can be customized in color and scale.

York’s “pandecorating” customers also lean toward peel-and-stick papers, with top-sellers including collections such as Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines, Rifle Paper Co. and Simply Candice by Candice Olson. The collections are eco-friendly and printed with water-based inks.

Easy to hang and completely removable, the peel-and-stick papers combine the sustainability, style and matte finish texture of designer wallcoverings with the assets of standard adhesive-backed wallpapers. The papers are 100% repositionable and removable in full strips and reusable.

Although the lines between home and office environments were already blurring, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this design conflation. Many of York’s collections cross over from residential to commercial application. Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines remains popular in both markets. The contract collection is 54-inch-wide commercial grade wallcovering that uses all water-based inks. 

Low-Occupancy Commercial Spaces Getting Cost-Effective Updates

Some commercial sectors such as hospitality, corporate and education have been using this time of low occupancy to cost-effectively refresh interiors. Influenced by current health concerns, many are seeking to build restorative environments that positively affect moods and feelings.

Wallcovering designers work not only with pattern, but with nature-inspired color palettes and textures that hint at nature. Contract specifiers also are looking for performance products that are easy to clean, sanitize and disinfect. Type II, Type III and semi rigid wall products meet these evolving cleanability needs.  

Versa Wallcovering reports that neutral color palettes are strong sellers in hotel projects despite the current economic challenges faced by the hospitality industry. Popular color selections are beige, white, light gray and taupe. Prevailing design selections include classic linen textures, such as Versa’s Bristol, and mid-scale geometric designs, such as the company’s Beacon Hill. A twist on a classic chevron, Beacon Hill offers a large color selection ranging from soft metallics usable in corridors, lobbies and reception areas to bolder colors for feature walls.

To address concerns of COVID-19, Versa’s wallcoverings are bleach-cleanable and can be disinfected using a variety of high-performing products recommended by the EPA.

New Products and Technologies Enhance Wallcovering Cleanability

To simplify product selection, Momentum Textile & Wallcoverings has added a search function to its website that allows users to search products by performance against certain cleaning agents. The company markets a wide range of wallcoverings that can be used with COVID-19 approved cleaners

Momentum also offers wall protection products that provide the ultimate durability against COVID-19 disinfectants. Momentum’s Versa Impact and P3TEC wall protection offer appealing aesthetics with extreme durability and the ease of traditional installation. The wall protection systems provide impact and abrasion performance that is superior to Type II wallcoverings. Extreme chemical resistance is unaffected by repeated exposure to the harshest cleaning and disinfecting agents.

The need to feel safe, secure and protected in crowded environments is more important now than ever. To address these concerns, MDC introduced FUNC privacy screens and dividers engineered to meet the CDC’s COVID-19 Disinfecting Methods for Community (schools, workplace, retirement facilities, faith-based facilities, correctional facilities) for non-porous surfaces.

The company recommends one-third cup bleach per gallon of water for proper disinfecting. FUNC is marketed as the best of fun and function, with designs ranging from larger, freestanding privacy screens and more compact desk screens and privacy hoods, to other zoning configurations. The product also combats unwanted noise and distractions with a sound-absorbent construction. With minimal attachment hardware, FUNC products are easily unloaded from flat shipment packaging and installed in a matter of minutes.

[Related: Learn more about FUNC’s Inspire by i+s exhibit]

Wolf-Gordon has been hard at work on a new construction of Type II wallcovering called CLAIR. The PVC-free material has durability and performance capabilities on par with traditional Type II vinyl. Made with a proprietary EVO technology, CLAIR is a commercial grade wallcovering that is 20 ounces per linear yard. 

Paired with an Osnaburg backing, the heavy-duty Type II olefin composite wallcovering has high resistance to abrasions, scratches and impacts. It is bleach-cleanable with a 1:10 dilution. The initial collection features 10 textile-influenced and organic-inspired designs that are derived from the beauty of nature. With an eye towards wellness, each design features subtle movement and a refined, contemporary look.

Look for New Wallcovering Industry Disinfecting Guidelines

The Wallcoverings Association and its member companies are working toward establishing new cleaning guidelines that address today’s increased need for disinfecting. U.S. wallcovering manufacturers have been testing products against disinfectants on the EPA’s List N of recommended disinfectants and found that many wall products are not negatively affected. 

Updated disinfecting guidelines for the industry are forthcoming in 2021. In the meantime, individual manufacturers offer information on how specific products perform under various cleaning and disinfecting agents.

For more information on wallcoverings, visit

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About the Author:

Matthew Jones is Executive Director of the Wallcoverings Association (WA), a nonprofit trade association that represents wallcoverings manufacturers, distributors and suppliers.

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