Wallpaper – History, Types, Cleaning, and Removal

Wallpapers are also known as wall coverings. There are many different designs printed on the wallpapers, so you can buy wallpaper with the right style and color for whatever your home or office theme is.

Let us get to know more about the history of wallpapers. How did they come about? Who invented them? Here are the timelines:

4000 B.C.

Egyptian Papyrus was invented. Papyrus is the early form of paper.

200 B.C.

Ancient China began using rice paper to decorate their walls by sticking or gluing them on their walls.

105 A.D

Ts’ai Lun, a Chinese court official, invented papermaking.

8th Century

Chinese prisoners with papermaking skills worked under the Arabians. Papermaking spread throughout Middle East.

10th Century

The Arabians began using wood and bamboo, creating a high quality paper.

12th Century

Papermaking reached Europe.


Louis XI of France ordered Jean Bourdichon to paint angels on blue background on 50 rolls of paper. King Louis XI had them ordered because he moves frequently from castle to castle. The rich society then began to commission artist to paint paper for their walls.


Paperhangers guild was established in France.


Jean-Michel Papillon started making block designs in matching and continuous patterns. He was considered the inventor of wallpapers. He is also a French Engraver.


Flocked wallpapers came from Worcester.

18th Century

Wallpaper products from London became popular. Expensive hand painted papers were all the rage because they imitate architectural designs. Wallpapers gained authority because they were less expensive. Popular designs were borders resembling tasseled braids or sway of fabric, and flocked papers that looked like a velvet cut.


Wallpapers reached America. Plunket Fleeson began printing them in Philadelphia.


Louis XVI issued a decree that wallpaper rolls should be about 34 feet in length.


Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf of France invented the wallpaper printing machine. Nicholas Louis Robert of France invented a way to make endless roll of wallpaper.


Alois Senefelder of Germany invented Lithography.


French scenic papers printed on hand-carved blocks became popular.


Charles Harold Potter of Potters and Ross printing firm in England invented a printing machine with four colors.


Eight-color printing machine was invented.


20-color printing machine was invented.


Karl Keitsch of Austria invented Intaglio, a gravure printing.


Ferdinand Shivel invented the wallpaper paste.


In England, flexography printing was invented.

20th Century

Wallpaper pasting machines appeared.


A paste powder that was soluble in cold water appeared in the market.


Plastic resins which are stain resistant, durable, and washable appeared.


The National Guild of Professional Paperhangers was established in the United States.

Late 1980’s

Wallpapers popularity died down because of Faux Painting.

Even though wallpapers were not as popular as it was before, modern people had begun to discover the beauty of wallpapers. There are now different types of wallpapers compared to before.

Vinyl Coated

Wallpaper coated with acrylic vinyl or polyvinyl chloride. It is the most common type of wallpaper. They are easy to clean, easy to remove, and very durable. Ideal rooms are the kitchen and bathrooms.


This type of wallpaper is very difficult to work with. It can show the wall imperfections and gets wrinkled easily. However, it adds brightness to any room because of its metallic surface.


Great for decorative highlights and it gives off a formal ambience. They have patterns with velvet-like raised designs.

Grass Cloth

Made up of weave of grasses. Not to be used on areas with high traffic and humidity. They are difficult to remove.


Made from textiles and they are not easy to clean. A special clear paste should be used in sticking it to a wall.


Easy to clean and hang. Hides wall imperfections. The textured paper can be painted.

When looking for wallpaper, you should also know how to clean them. Different materials have different ways of cleaning them. You should ask the manufacturer on their recommendations in cleaning their products.

However, dry cleaning is the safest cleaning method on any kind of wallpapers. Avoid using any moisture on wallpapers that are absorbent like paper and fabric. Some stores also sell a clay-like material to be used on wallpapers.

This clay-like cleaning material is good in absorbing soils from the walls. If you found a mold or mildew in the wallpaper, it is advised that the wallpaper be removed and replaced.

If you have removed the wallpaper, clean the walls first with water and chlorine solution. This is to kill any mold and mildew on your wall. Rinse it with clean water and let it dry before installing new wallpaper.

There are also different ways to remove wallpaper. As with cleaning, different material have different ways in removing them. Some materials are easy to remove, while some are very difficult to remove.


If the wallpaper is a simple paper, just brushing it with water can remove it off from your wall.


A chemical wallpaper stripper can be found in most home improvement stores. It is mixed with warm water or warm water with vinegar. You must saturate the wallpaper as the mixture dissolves the wallpaper paste. When the paste is completely dissolved, you can remove it easily by stripping it off with a putty or drywall knife.


A steaming machine is used to dissolve the glue or paste under the wallpaper. Extra caution is required as it can damage your drywall or plaster.

Some vinyl coated wallpapers are difficult to remove because they can’t absorb moisture. You first need to scratch the surface to let any moisture in. However, some are fairly easy to strip.

Before you go and buy that new wallpaper or wall cover, be sure to know what type or style you wanted. And to ask the store for the cleaning tips on the wallpaper you just bought.