12 Different Types of Wallpaper Options Explained

Our San Antonio Interior Designers and Architects Review Different Types of Trending Wallpapers for the 2020s

For the last two decades, wallpaper has been stripped out of homes and replaced with dull shades of white, beige, and gray paint. Finally, we see a shift in the design world as homeowners embrace all the textures, colors, and patterns wallpaper offers in the 2020s. Don’t worry. The revitalization of wallpaper doesn’t mean you should put up the hunter green, rose, or duck-printed wallpaper borders you might remember from the late 80s and early 90s! Our San Antonio interior designers and architects explain 12 different types of wallpaper options trending for the 2020s. Plus, we will dive into a brief history of wallpaper, which goes much further back than you might think.   

What wallpaper actually looks like
…what wallpaper actually looks like.

A Brief History of Wallpaper 

To understand a trend, we have to go back through design history. In the case of wallpaper, we have to go back to 105 B.C.E. Wallpaper was invented over 2,000 years ago by a Chinese court official named Tsai Lun. The original paper was a mixture of bark, bamboo, and linen that was painted to bring nature scenes into the home. In the 15th century, wallpaper made its debut in Europe, and designs were printed with woodblocks colored by hand. The history of wallpaper began as a labor-intensive and slow process, making the wallcovering only accessible to the elite. However, in 1840, Potters & Ross, a cotton printing firm based in Darwen, Lancashire, invented the first wallpaper printing machine. Wallpaper could now be produced at a lower price, and middle-class families could finally afford it. William Morris, a leader in the British Arts and Crafts movement, further encouraged middle-class consumers to incorporate wallpaper designs into their homes through the late 1800s. He created more than 50 patterns that still influence wallpaper prints today. Wallpaper remained popular through the decades and experienced a boom in the 1960s and 1970s. Wallpaper designers created bold, colorful, and even psychedelic-inspired designs that welcomed decades of self-expression and creativity. By the end of the 1990s, however, homeowners turned their backs on wallpaper and stripped away unique designs in favor of uniform white and gray paint, which has dominated home design for the last two decades. Now, wallpaper is trending again in the 2020s as homeowners seek to fill their homes with personalized style.  

12 Different Types of Wallpaper Options

The biggest interior design trend for the 2020s is personalization. Here’s everything you need to know about new wallpaper trends and the options available.  

1. Traditional Wallpaper

In the case of wallpaper, the word traditional doesn’t refer to the style but rather the installation method. Traditional or non-woven wallpaper is made from a mixture of natural and synthetic fibers with a selected pattern printed on the front. Traditional wallpaper does not have an adhesive backing and needs to be soaked in a glue mixture before being applied to the wall. Our interior designers and architects recommend hiring a professional installer, especially for more expensive papers. 

Loose Stripe Wallpaper by Amity Worrel
Loose Stripe Wallpaper by Amity Worrel

2. Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Peel and stick wallpaper is also called removable or self-adhesive wallpaper. This type of paper has an adhesive backing that requires no soaking or pasting. Peel and stick wallpaper is an excellent solution for accenting alcoves, shelving, and smaller walls.  

3. Vinyl Wallpaper 

Vinyl wallpaper is made with either a paper, fabric, or vinyl base and a vinyl coating on top that protects the paper to create a durable, thick, and washable material. Vinyl wallpaper is the perfect option for wallpaper in the bathroom, kitchen, or other wet and high traffic areas. 

4. Smooth Wallpaper

Many wallpapers rely on patterns to add visual interest to a room and feature a smooth surface. Some homeowners choose wallpaper to hide imperfections that may be present in the walls. Liner wallpaper is actually made for the specific purpose of covering wall textures for a smooth starting base.  

Lip Wallpaper by Amity Worrel
This lip wallpaper is being used to hide imperfections as well as visual interest.
Photo by Amity Worrel

5. Textured Wallpaper

Other wallpapers rely on texture for visual interest. Some textured wallpapers may feature printed designs with embossed details, while others only feature textural details that can be painted. 

6. Reflective Wallpaper

Wallpapers can even bring a little shimmer into a room. Reflective and metallic papers feature a shine that bounces light to create atmospheric spaces with a luxurious and glamorous feel. 

Reflective Wallpaper by Amity Worrel
Reflective Wallpaper by Amity Worrel

7. Scenic Wallpaper

Scenic wallpapers feature a complete scene rather than a repeating pattern. Zuber is one of the most famous producers of scenic wallpapers, and they have been creating designs in their French studio for centuries. Scenic papers hark back to original wallpaper designs from China. Installing scenic wallpaper can be challenging, and it is best to find a skilled professional for the job.  

Scenic Wallpaper with Hard to Match Repeats
This scenic wallpaper with hard-to-match repeats is better installed by a professional.

8. Patterned Wallpaper 

Wallpapers with repeating patterns are one of the most popular options among homeowners. Designs can range from classic Laura Ashley florals to stripes to toile to large scale or small scale patterns. When it comes to wallpaper patterns, the options are almost limitless. 

9. Flocked Wallpaper

Flock wallpaper is created by dusting wool or synthetic fibers onto an adhesive surface to create a raised velvet-like textured pattern. Flocked wallpapers date back to the 17th century and were originally made to imitate damask fabric wallcoverings. This type of wallpaper is very durable and delivers a sense of old-world luxury. 

Velvet Flocked Wallpaper
Velvet Flocked Wallpaper

10. Grasscloth Wallpaper

Grasscloth wallpaper is made from woven strands of natural fibers attached to a paper backing. They can be made from jute, seagrass, bamboo, raffia, and other materials. This type of wallpaper adds texture to a room and brings in a natural element. 

Grasscloth Wallpaper by Amity Worrel
This grasscloth wallpaper adds a unique texture to this room.
Photo by Amity Worrel

11. Bark Wallpaper

Another way to add texture and natural beauty to a room is with bark wallpaper. One of the most popular manufacturers of this type of paper is Barkskin. Barkskin makes its wallcoverings from an organic, hand-pounded bark material that comes in several colors. 

Barkskin Wallpaper
Here is an example of a Barkskin wallpaper.

12. Celebrity Designer Wallpaper

In the age of celebrity interior designers, homeowners are looking to bring a slice of the celebrity lifestyle into their homes. Famous designers like Kelly Wearstler are designing one-of-a-kind wallpapers that bring high-class style and glamour to any space. 

Kelly Wearstler Wallpaper
Kelly Wearstler Wallpaper

Need help selecting wallpaper?  

Let Us Know!

Don’t miss out on design history, trends, and knowledge. 

Stay Up to Date with Us

Listen to Our Interior Design and Architecture Podcast  

Listen to Design Oracles

Recommended Posts
Trillis and Vine Wall by Dency Kane from Better Homes and GardensGrouping Artwork Photo from Amity Worrel