From decoding wallpaper symbols to installation terminology, there’s a lot to learn about wallpaper products and how to apply them to your walls. In this guide, we’ll be going over the most important things you need to know when learning how to read wallpaper information and hanging instructions.
Wallpaper symbols and what they mean
On our wallpaper rolls and wallpaper books, you’ll come across various symbols printed on the packaging or pages. Each of these symbols has their own meaning that tells you about the wallpaper product you’re handling. Here is a quick mini-guide on what each symbol means:
These are symbols that indicate the level of cleaning that can be done on your wallpaper. Following these descriptions can lead to longer lasting wallpaper when maintaining the surface cleanliness, while over washing or scrubbing can cause damage to the wallpaper. These symbols are also a fair indicator of how durable the wallpaper surface is; less washable wallpaper products are more suited to low traffic, water-free environments while more washable or scrubbable wallpaper products can be used in higher traffic areas.
A symbol with one wavy line means the wallpaper is spongeable. It’s the lowest washability rating, which only allows for the use of a slightly damp sponge or cloth with no additional cleaning products or solutions. In general, wallpaper with this symbol should be used in areas with good ventilation as it can be damaged in wet or humid environments.
Two wavy lines means that the wallpaper is washable. A step above spongeable, products with this symbol are still fairly susceptible to water damage, but are more durable than products in the previous category. Owners can use a damp sponge or cloth to remove minor stains from the wallpaper surface.
A symbol with three wavy lines means it is super or extra washable. Wallpaper products with this symbol are much more resilient to water and can be placed in rooms where minor water splashes may occur. Most stains and surface debris can be removed with a sponge or cloth using water and mild soap.
A symbol featuring a brush head and one wavy line means the wallpaper product is scrubbable. Owners can use a sponge or brush to clean the wallpaper surface to remove stains. Since these wallpapers are generally more durable, more pressure can be applied when cleaning the surface. A mild cleaning agent may be used.
Certain manufacturers use the symbol above to denote wallpapers that are extra scrubbable, as indicated by the multiple water symbols in conjunction with the brush. Mild detergents can be used to remove heavier stains.
Application and Paste Instructions
There are three major symbols that refer to how the wallpaper product is applied or pasted to the walls. This can help determine how much time and effort will be needed to install the wallpaper, as certain methods require more preparation.
Pre-pasted or Ready Pasted refers to wallpaper where the adhesive agent has already been applied to the backing of the product. To install the wallpaper, simply dip it into a water tray to activate the adhesive backing.
A symbol where the brush is pointed to the wallpaper roll means Paste The Wallpaper. The adhesive paste is brushed directly onto the back of the wallpaper and then the product is applied to the walls.
A symbol that features a brush pointed at the wall means Paste The Wall. The adhesive paste is to be applied directly to the walls and the wallpaper product is layered on top. This installation method is relatively newer compared to the other two methods and is considered to be more user-friendly.
Wallpaper Removal Method
Similar to the previous category, wallpaper removal methods can vary in terms of effort and the time spent removing the product from the walls.
A product with this symbol means it is strippable. As the simplest method of wallpaper removal, owners can easily remove the wallpaper by peeling an edge and pulling the entire wallpaper product away from the wall.
Similar to strippable wallpaper, peelable wallpaper can be lifted off the walls by pulling it away. However, this only removes the top layer of the wallpaper; the backing or liner layer of paper still remains pasted on the wall.
Wet Removable is a symbol that refers to products that require water or a wallpaper stripping solution in order to be removed from the wall. Leftover wallpaper on the walls can be scraped off.
Light Fastness Rating
These symbols refer to how well wallpaper keeps its color when exposed to sunlight. Products with a lower light fastness rating should be kept in rooms with minimal exposure to natural light; products with a higher light fastness rating can be used in rooms with a lot of natural sunlight.
The lowest light fastness rating is Moderate or Fair Light Fastness. While it is somewhat resistant to light, surface colors will eventually fade over the years when exposed to direct sunlight.
Products with a Good Light Fastness rating will maintain its color longer even with direct exposure to sunlight. These wallpaper products are appropriate for areas that see a lot of natural sunlight.
Products with an Excellent Light Fastness offer the highest degree of long-term color retention when placed in direct sunlight.
Terminology you’ll come across when installing wallpaper
Another set of symbols refers to specific terminology related to how a particular wallpaper roll must be installed. The wallpaper match type determines how sections of the product must be applied on the walls in order to display the correct orientation of the imagery or pattern.
A straight match means the wallpaper has a horizontal pattern orientation that is the same with each panel. Each length of the wallpaper must be applied at the same height in order to match the pattern with its adjacent panels.
A wallpaper symbol that indicates a drop match or offset match means that adjacent strips will be “dropped” or “offset” by half of the pattern’s repeat measurement. For example, if a wallpaper has a 90cm pattern repeat, the next panel of wallpaper beside it will be dropped by 45 cm; a repeat pattern of 64 cm means the adjacent wallpaper strip will be lowered 32 cm. This is done in order to accommodate wallpaper patterns with a diagonal configuration.
A free match symbol indicates wallpaper that can be hung without having to measure or match any pattern. This wallpaper type often results in lower amounts of leftover or wasted wallpaper.
What are the different types of hanging?
Three symbols are related to how wallpaper is hung and it deals more with the orientation of the wallpaper, rather than the pattern or design match.
A single directional arrow is a symbol that means straight hanging. This refers to the direction the wallpaper should be applied to the walls.
Horizontal hanging simply refers to wallpaper strips that are applied horizontally on the wall, rather than vertically.
This symbol indicates that the hanging type is reverse (sometimes referred to as reverse alternate lengths), meaning each wallpaper strip must be rotated and reversed when hanging the next length.