Soft PVC wall coverings are a clear favourite in many homes and public buildings because of their enormous range of styles, long-life and unbeatable cost-effectiveness. Literally, millions of square kilometres of interior surfaces around the world have been transformed by this material of choice for manufacturers and customers.
The success of PVC for wall coverings depends on plasticisers which not only allow the polymer to be soft and flexible but also facilitate key aesthetic, design and hygiene qualities.
The advantage and purpose of vinyl wall coverings is to have a decorative design on walls exposed to moisture in the bathroom and grease in the kitchen. Regular wallpaper doesn't wear well in these conditions, becoming dirty, discoloured or brittle in the kitchen, and mouldy in the bathroom.
Today's vinyl wall coverings are attractive, available in grades of thickness, suited to heavy traffic areas such as businesses, schools, hotels and hospitals and will stand up to years of heavy use.
Not only these wall coverings are easily cleaned but they are also easily repaired should damage occur. Vinyl wall coverings are also fire-retardant, a definite advantage in your kitchen, schools and hospitals as well as business and office surroundings.
Typically, high phthalate general purpose plasticisers are used to allow manufacturers to achieve a very high and consistent smoothness which is more pleasant to the touch, more visually appealing and significantly more hygienic. The surfaces are much easier to wash and do not require any aggressive cleaning agents. Both benefits cut down on physical labour, maintenance costs and the quantity of substances released into the environment.
Eliminating cracks and crevices reduces the opportunity for germs and bacteria to breed. Due to these properties, soft PVC has been the material of choice for many hospitals and clinics. At home, kitchens and bathrooms can be kept cleaner and fresher with less time and effort.
No other material lasts for as long and in such a good condition than soft PVC wall coverings. The in-service life of these products can easily reach 20 years or more with minimum maintenance. On average, they last 3 to 5 times longer than any other surface treatment such as paint and unlike wood, PVC wall coverings require no protective treatment.
PVC is resistant to most internal conditions including extreme dryness and humidity, which do not make it discolour, fade or decompose. Although supple, these coverings are strong and difficult to tear or scratch either during installation or use and are easily cleaned and washed.
No alternatives can match the enormous variety and versatility of flexible PVC wall coverings. Thanks to the use of plasticisers in the production process, manufacturers can offer products in almost every colour, pattern and thickness suitable for most buildings, tastes and budgets.
Most PVC wall coverings are composed of three layers which are applied on top of each other, each having its own specific function: a decorative layer, an intermediate layer and a backing. Prints and colours are applied to the decorative layer. The intermediate layer gives an agreeable soft ‘cushion’ feeling to the wall covering while the backing imparts strength.
The three-layer system allows manufacturers to achieve designs and textures which rely on depth, such as tiles, ‘wood grain’ and even bricks. The process is cost-effective because the use of phthalates allows for a very short drying time per layer. Without them, production times would be significantly longer and probably economically unviable.
Wall covering manufacturers are able to offer literally thousands of different styles and to alter them as quickly as markets and tastes evolve, without the need for large-scale investments or longer delivery times that would otherwise result into higher prices.
The large market share of PVC wallcovering is reinforced by its ease of installation. It is a strong but light-weight option that can be simply cut to shape, ensuring that it can be applied to almost any surface by both regular homeowners and professional decorators.