Sustainable Design for Life and Work.
Decorative wall coverings were first introduced into interior design by the Chinese in 200 B.C and initially, comprised rice paper. Nowadays, wallpapers are available in a number of different types and styles from non-woven wallpaper too Japanese paper. When buying wallpaper, like many interior and architectural materials, there are lots of things to consider, including: will the style fit the over-all design; will the wallpaper help create the desired ambience; what do I need to do to the walls before hanging the wallpaper; how many rolls will I need; what is the pattern repeat and finally the cost. But in addition to the style and cost of a wallpaper, sustainability of the product is now influencing people’s choices. So, what can wallpaper add to a design?
Wallpaper can add glamour, colour, and texture to a space. It can also add character, and in conjunction with the other products selected for a spaces design, help create the desired ambience. For instance, Glamora’s GlamPure range is very charismatic with its use of shadows in its detailing, creating calm and serine designs. Wallpaper can also help with the longevity of the walls, whether this for the home or workplace. It is a great option if you have uneven walls. As Giuroiu (2019) cites, wallpaper can be a ‘reflection of your style and personality’. Wallpaper can also be used to cover ceilings and/or cupboard and wardrobe door fronts.
Sustainability of Wallpaper
As with all products, it is important to consider the lifecycle of wallpaper. This includes identifying what raw materials have been included to make the wallpaper; the manufacturing processes; transportation; and finally, the wallpapers end of life – is it biodegradable? When selecting a wallpaper, ensure that the paper is sourced from sustainable forests or other natural and biodegradable products. Wallpaper, which has been sustainably sourced from forests will be certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), illustrated below. However, just because the wood used to make the wallpaper is FSC sourced, sometimes there can be other materials included within the manufacturing of the paper, which are not sustainable. For instance, plastic.
Paper is not the only thing to consider, when selecting a wallpaper. Attention needs to be drawn to identifying what other materials have been used in creating its design. For instance, for digitally printed wallpaper, ensure: the inks used are water-based; are not harmful to the environment; and have minimal VOC off-gassing and do not affect the biodegradability of the wallpaper.
Create Your Own Wallpaper
If you have decided to create your own wallpaper, select a chloride free lining paper. For the print (if you are using the traditional block printing methods) why not use a healthier plant-based interiors paint. For more information on healthy options for interior paints, click here. Lastly, some wallpapers can be coated in a finish, which cannot be good for the environment or our health and wellbeing. For instance, vinyl used in the production of vinyl wallpaper. Vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a synthetic man-made material, which releases harmful gasses (off-gassing) into our internal environments.
In addition, to exploring what the wallpaper is made from and its sustainability, consideration must be given to the people who grow the raw materials and manufacture the wallpaper. Everyone is entitled to live and work in an environment which is not detrimental to theirs or their family’s health. This also includes the surrounding communities too. Listed below are a number of different types of wallpaper currently available on the market at the time of writing this article:
- Foil wallpapers
- Fabric wallpaper
- Washable wallpaper
- Mylar wallpaper
- Textured wallpaper
- Non-woven wallpaper.
- Paper based wallpaper
- Vinyl wallpaper
- Natural grass wallpaper
- Embossed wallpaper
- Pick and stick wallpaper.
The above wallpapers will be explored in a series of 3 articles, complementing and following on from this one. Each article will explore the sustainability of the wallpaper by identifying what raw materials have been used to make it and how it is manufactured.
Don’t forget theWallpaper Adhesive, Is it Sustainable?
Depending upon what type of wallpaper you have selected will determine what kind of adhesive you will need. However, always check what materials have been used to create the wallpaper adhesive, using the lifecycle tool. One option is Auro’s natural and non-toxic wallpaper paste. The paste is made from natural cellulose and is biocide and chemical free. This will create a healthier internal environment, whilst also promoting your health and wellbeing. However, if you’re up for a challenge, why not try making your own wallpaper adhesive. This can be achieved by using products found in your kitchen cupboards. For instance, flour, sugar and water, look online for further information. If you are buying a pick and stick wallpaper, be sure to clarify as to what kind of adhesive has been used to create this bond. Make sure there is no hidden toxic or harmful chemicals.
When purchasing wallpaper, look out for wallpaper which is packaged using recyclable or biodegradable materials. Ensure to investigate what lies beneath the wallpaper product by using the lifecycle tool. Not only will this protect the environment, but will further promote the health and wellbeing of you, your family or/and work colleagues.