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Environmental Issues


The wallcoverings industry, like its counterparts in carpeting, other interior finishes, and paint, are carefully monitored by various government agencies, including OSHA and Congress, to ensure that the product’s manufacture, installment and use are safe for the environment. In the wallcoverings industry, modifications where needed have been made to comply with changes made in existing environmental and safety regulations. The following information outlines how the wallcoverings industry is addressing major environmental issues.

Key Points

  • Today, most wallcoverings are manufactured using no heavy metals such as lead, mercury, chromium or cadmium that could adversely affect the environment.
  • Many manufacturers are introducing and developing additional environmentally-friendly substrates in the manufacture of wallcoverings.
  • To save forests, designers can now select wallcoverings that use harvested wood pulp from managed forests in their production.
  • Wallcoverings are tested before they are put on the market for flame spread and smoke levels in case of fire. Wallcoverings on the market meet regulated standards, with many wallcoverings exhibiting extremely low flame spread and smoke development ratings.
  • Adhesives used in installation are environmentally sound, with many being water-based.

New products have been and are being introduced that give environmentally conscious designers and their clients additional environmentally friendly choices. The increased demand for these products by end users drives manufacturers to become even more diligent in innovating environmentally friendly products. For the newest developments when specifying a project, contact your wallcoverings supplier.

A Word about Vinyl

Vinyl's toughness and durability make it the most widely used plastic in residential and contract wallcoverings. Cost-effective and durable, vinyl can also be manufactured to simulate virtually any color, pattern or texture created by man or nature. Despite the increase in vinyl production, environmental releases associated with production and disposal of vinyl have fallen. This is due in part to the fact that vinyl has been regulated for decades, ensuring that the environment is protected at each step in the life cycle of the material and the products made from it.

How does vinyl compare with other materials in environmental performance? Is it a sustainable material? The answers to these questions are clear. Vinyl’s performance is outstanding. The primary raw material in vinyl resin comes from common salt, which is in abundant supply. This means that vinyl is less reliant on petroleum resources than other plastics. The vinyl manufacturing process is highly efficient—more than 99 percent of all vinyl produced ends up in a finished product. And the energy required to make vinyl wallcoverings is only half as much as the amount needed to produce the same amount of paper wallcoverings. In addition, most vinyl wallcoverings manufacturers actively recycle scrap related to the manufacture of the product.

Additional Resources

For more information on vinyl, contact the Vinyl Institute at For complete information on vinyl wallcoverings, visit Vinyl by Design. For information on other environmental issues, please contact the Wallcoverings Association at 312.321.5166.


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