Ok so let me first explain what we mean by self adhesive and traditional non woven wallpaper. Self adhesive wallpaper has a an adhesive backing, simply peel the backing off and paste it on the wall, no tools, glue or mess. When we say traditional wallpaper, we’re not talking “grandmother’s wallpaper”, we mean the type of non-woven wallpaper that requires a wallpaper glue which involves soaking or pasting onto the wall before you apply the paper – so basically yes tools, glue and mess.
Non-woven refers to the backing of the wallpaper which contains a combination of natural and synthetic fibers. This makes the wallpaper more breathable, which reduces the risk of mold. It also reduces the amount that the wallpaper will expand or contract to almost zero. The non-woven backing also allows for it to be cleaned with a damp cloth as well as making it easier to remove without the headache that grannies wallpaper used to create.
So traditional wallpapers are easily removable but are they reusable? While traditional non-woven wallpaper can be removed, often pretty easily in one piece, it’s not created with the intention of being removed or for that matter reused. It’s made to withstand high-traffic areas as well as indoor elements of heat and cold. As long as you want the wallpaper to stay up, it will stay up. It cannot be reused either as the paper would have likely sustained some damage during removal.
Traditional non-woven wallpaper was made to be much more environmentally friendly than old vinyl wallpaper which required chemicals that polluted the air. No chemicals are required for the creation of traditional non-woven wallpaper. The inks used on the wallpapers are also eco solvent and far kinder to the environment.
Because traditional wallpaper was seen as such a permanent option, the industry created an alternative – self adhesive wallpaper. Applying requires no soaking or pasting. The adhesive is already on the back. All you have to do is peel off the backing. Want to remove it? Just peel it off the wall with ease. Your work is done. No extra cleaning of excess paste or mess. The term renters wallpaper is also used because its target market seems to be those in temporary living situations.
Since we have established that both papers in our modern age have removable qualities. As we mentioned before, traditional wallpaper will require paste and a roller brush to apply the paste to the wall. Removable wallpaper won’t require any of those tools which results in a less messy experience. Both types of wallpaper will require you to cut the paper to fit your wall, use a level to draw a plumb line so your wallpaper is straight, and a pencil for marking.
But I think the most important distinction and where traditional non-woven wallpaper clearly wins is when you apply the paper to the wall. With traditional wallpaper, because there is a paste on the wall, you are able to move the wallpaper after you apply it and manipulate the paper to get it straight or to get it right up against the edge. Essentially, traditional allows you to not be perfect with your application because you have a window of time to adjust the paper before the paste dries. This also makes it much easier to smooth out the wrinkles and allows the two panels to meet seamlessly.
With removable peel and stick wallpaper, since the back is sticky, you can’t push the paper up or down after you apply it. If you aren’t straight or if there are wrinkles, you need to peel it off and try again. So in that sense, installing removable wallpaper is much harder. And after you install it, there seems to often be issues with bubbling.
Removable wallpaper is not nearly as durable as traditional non-woven wallpaper. The peel & stick paper can peel, seemingly on its own and you will have to stick it back on the wall. The adhesion is nowhere near as strong as paste. It is more susceptible to heat, cold and humidity, which makes it unworkable for humid bathrooms or hot laundry rooms. It may be a common issue that you’ll walk into a room and find the corner of your removable wallpaper hanging down or the entire panel on the floor. Its adhesive quality is affected by everything from the paint on your wall to direct sunlight, which makes its performance different for every environment. Traditional non-woven wallpaper just works, every time.
Deciding which wallpaper is best comes down to a personal choice. If you are doing a relatively small area, have temporary tastes or a temporary living situation, self adhesive wallpaper may be something to consider. However, if you’re wallpapering a large wall or going to be staying put for more than a year and you want a quality product that you can count on, traditional non-woven wallpaper is the way to go.