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Upholsterer in 1770

The wallpaper (from latin latin tapetum or medium latin tapeta = ceiling, carpet) is a wall covering of paper , glass tissue or plastics , rarely also of gold leather, leather or canvas , by means of a suitable adhesive to the wall is adhered. The interior of wooden boxes and drawers or boxes made of cardboard can be wallpapered (in technical jargon and traditionally called trellis ) dry interiors of buildings, exhibition booths, shop windows and stages. Stage props and exhibition platforms with flat or uniaxially curved surfaces are often also papered outside.


Chinese paper wallpaper

Wallpaper has its origins in the Orient . Before using cheap paper wallpaper, the monarchs decorated their walls mainly with large tapestries. This is why they were also called " Turkish wallpapers " until the 18th century . Since these were extremely expensive, the French nobles of the 15th century took their valuable tapestries with them when they traveled from castle to castle. In the Orient, the cheaper leather wallpapers appeared, which were embossed and partly gilded. This type of wall covering was first introduced in Spain by the Moors in the 11th century . Finally, parchment wallpapers became increasingly popular. In the library of Melk Abbey in Lower Austria, the walls were decorated with yellow and red parchment wallpapers around 1425. In the 14th century wall hangings arrived in Italy for the first time on fabric.

In 1469, wallpapering attempts were carried out for the first time in some villages on the Middle Rhine. At Christ's College in Cambridge in England there is a black and white wallpaper from 1509, which consists of discarded documents, the reverse of which has been printed. So-called flat papers come from the years 1580 to 1600 and were found in a historic town house in Bad Windsheim, Franconia. The East Indian trading companies brought hand-painted Chinese paper wallpaper to Europe in the 16th century . After their great success, the production of native paper wallpaper began in England and France, so that the first paper wallpaper makers were known as early as 1586. On May 1, 1634, the paper wallpaper manufacturer Jerome Lanyer received an order from King Charles I of England to produce wallpaper with glued-on dust from dyed wool, the predecessor of velor wallpapers .

Until the calico printing industry set new standards, the wallpapers were still printed by hand. The technically advanced fabric printing process around 1750 was transferred to paper in England and France. In Germany, Johann Christian Arnold founded the first large wallpaper printing company in Kassel in 1789. The patterns were based on the current taste.

Children's room wallpaper (1895) from a Cologne residential building

The wallpaper manufacturer Jean Zuber (1773-1852), who came from Mulhouse in Alsace , tried as early as 1790 in the wallpaper factory "Nicolas Dolfus & Cie", where he was employed, to print wallpaper with engraved copper rollers and glued paper webs. Since paper could not be made in meter-long strips like fabric at that time and the paper kept creasing when glued together, it was impossible to print evenly, which rendered Zuber's attempts at this point useless. He was more successful with the method of printing wooden models on the paper webs. In 1795 the wallpaper factory in the Zuber worked was renamed “Hartmann, Risler & Cie”. After the factory moved to Rixheim in 1797, it finally became known under the name “Zuber & Cie”. Among other things, Zuber et Cie produced such sophisticated panoramic wallpapers that the manufactory was accepted into the Legion of Honor by King Louis-Philippe I in 1834 . Jacqueline Kennedy had an antique copy of this wallpaper installed in the “Diplomatic Reception Room” of the White House , another copy was sold for $ 40,500 at auction, making it the most expensive wallpaper in the world.

The French papermaker Nicholas-Louis Robert (1761–1828) patented in 1799 a " machine to make paper of a very large size ". These endless rolls of paper were eventually adopted in wallpaper production and became indispensable for living rooms and bedrooms in the middle-class Biedermeier era from the 1830s onwards. In this way, Jean Zuber's method could continue to be used from around 1827. The printing machines constructed in the mid- 19th century enabled the mass production of wallpapers and led to the decline of the interior design culture that had existed up to that point , with which numerous artists (such as Sonia Delaunay-Terk , Georges Rouault , Raoul Dufy and many others) made a living. Wallpaper production became a branch of the colored paper industry. The wallpapers were then sold in pieces (rolls usually 8.16 m long and 47 cm wide). The continuous machine paper of medium to low quality, but with the smoothest or even surface possible, was used for the production.

Despite this now industrial and thus inexpensive production, wallpapers remained a rather luxurious product in Germany until after the Second World War. Less affluent classes mostly still had their living spaces embellished with paint applied directly to the walls; however, attempts were often made to imitate the appearance of wallpaper by means of ornaments that were applied with the help of stencils or rubber rollers. It was not until after the Second World War, during the economic miracle , that wallpapers became generally accepted, mainly because washable and embossed surfaces could now also be produced.


Newspaper as a substitute for wallpaper, USA 1932

In many industrial nations, wallpaper is widespread in homes. On the one hand, it conveys a feeling of comfort and warmth, and on the other hand, an impression of the personality of the residents, since everyone can design their apartment to “their own taste” due to the variety of motifs available. While colorful wallpapers predominated in Germany in the 1970s, however, since the 1980s the trend has moved away from wallpaper and towards walls painted white.

Elsewhere, however, even in rich countries, wallpapers are far less common than in Central Europe. In the United States, for example, where living space is usually much larger than in Germany, houses are built from wood and interior walls have an even surface made of plasterboard ( dry wall ), the walls are usually only painted white or colored. Commercially available wallpapers are always pre-pasted and, due to the comparatively high price, are only used in small rooms or in rooms that - such as dining rooms - have a special representative function. The woodchip wallpaper, which is popular in Germany, is almost unknown in the USA .


Historical production processes

Salon with rocaille stucco, panel parquet and baroque landscape wallpaper

The first phase is the priming, which is only omitted with the types of wallpaper of very low quality. Priming is done by painting over the paper with an even layer of paint. Priming with a top coat is done simply by painting on , priming with a glaze paint first requires the application of glue . Mostly this is done by the Fonciermaschine . The primed paper is dried, smoothed and - if it is glossy wallpapers - satinised by filling all small depressions in the paper with talcum powder . Then the wallpaper is printed with different patterns and then smoothed.

New production processes

Today there are different production processes that are mostly used in combination. These are flexographic printing, gravure printing, screen printing, embossing and digital printing, which is mainly used for photo wallpapers and custom-made products.

With gravure and screen printing processes, a print carrier is first required on which the print / coating is applied. After almost only paper was used in the past, the proportion of non-woven wallpapers has increased to well over 50% because of the better processing options and later removability. Since non-woven wallpapers are much more stable than conventional wallpapers, the surfaces are often severely damaged when they are removed. It is therefore recommended to use a paste additive during processing, which supports the dry strippability.

The rotogravure wallpapers are first printed with the pattern (mainly on paper backing) and then embossed with the help of steel rollers in order to obtain a three-dimensional structure that cannot be achieved otherwise in the rotogravure process due to the small amount of ink. In order to make this structure more durable, a second paper web is laminated to the back of most of the gravure wallpapers on paper and embossed at the same time. If the pattern of the embossing exactly matches the printed pattern (e.g. a blossom), then one speaks of a repeat or register embossed wallpaper.

Today, the screen printing wallpapers are mainly printed on fleece. Printing plastisols based on PVC or water serve as printing inks. These plastisols are also set differently in terms of their pressure behavior. For example, there are plastisols that increase their volume under the action of heat (foam) or keep them the same. This makes it possible to obtain three-dimensional effects that are also very stable without mechanical deformation by using different types of plastisol. In addition to these effects, the plastisols also differ in their gloss and haptic differences (e.g. soft "Alcantara" surfaces) etc.


Information such as the item and production number as well as symbols for the quality and processing of the wallpaper are given on the inlay of the wallpaper . The article number is only given once per manufacturer. The batch number describes the batch from which the wallpaper originates. The wallpaper symbols provide information about the light, water and wash resistance of the wallpaper, the pattern, the processing and the removal of the wallpaper.

  • Lightfastness : Describes the wallpaper's reaction to incidence of light, for example, one half of the sun means that the wallpaper is sufficiently lightfast, while two suns indicate excellent lightfastness:
    • Sufficient lightfastness
    • Satisfactory lightfastness
    • Good lightfastness
    • Very good lightfastness
    • Excellent lightfastness
  • Water and wash resistance: The material determines whether the wallpaper can be washed off very carefully during processing or whether abrasive agents can be used for cleaning:
    • Water resistant at the time of processing. Paste stains can be carefully dabbed off.
    • Washable. Light soiling can be wiped off with a damp cloth.
    • Highly washable. Soiling, with the exception of oily and greasy stains, can be removed with mild soapy water.
    • Abrasion resistant. Soiling can be removed with a mild soap and a soft brush.
    • Highly scrubbable. Soiling can be removed with a mild scouring agent and a brush.
  • Sample approach : Describe how the wallpaper should be attached to the wall:
    • Free of match. No pattern needs to be observed when gluing.
    • Straight approach. The same patterns are wallpapered at the same height.
    • Offset approach. The pattern of the next roll of wallpaper must be papered offset by half or the offset in cm.
    • Overturned sticking. Every second strip must be rotated 180 degrees and glued on the head.
    • Paper in the direction of the arrow. The strips of wallpaper must be glued so that the arrow on the back of the wallpaper points to the ceiling.
  • Processing instructions: Indicate the use of the paste:
    • The paste must be applied to the back of the wallpaper.
    • The paste must be applied to the wall to be wallpapered.
    • Pre-pasted wallcovering. The back of the wallpaper is coated with a dry paste that is activated by a little water.
  • Wallpaper Removal : Describes how to remove wallpaper from the wall:
    • Completely removable. The wallpaper can be peeled off the wall completely dry.
    • Cleavable. The upper layer of the wallpaper can be peeled off dry, while the lower layer remains on the wall as waste.
    • Remove wet. The wallpaper must be soaked before being removed and then removed completely.

Apprenticeship as an upholsterer

  • Germany: Training as a painter and upholsterer
  • Switzerland (as of May 2018): Further modules are offered in connection with the training to become a project manager, plant manager and master painter. The former title "VST upholsterer" is no longer trained.
  • Master upholsterers (e.g. at the theater also divide the work and service of the employees and are responsible for the production, storage and care of furniture. This task requires close cooperation with the departments of decoration, direction and set design . Requirements. Knowledge of style and objects of daily use of the different centuries, organizational talent.) Basic education with federal. Certificate of proficiency (EFZ). Basic education as an interior decorator or decorator. Further development: If there is a technical requirement, promotion to a master upholsterer.
  • Austria: 3-year apprenticeship as an upholsterer and decorator. Includes wall, ceiling and floor coverings, sun and privacy protection, room design, as well as curtains / drapes and window decorations. Federal guild of upholsterers and decorators

Types and patterns

Structure of a woodchip wallpaper
Pattern wallpaper in a dormitory in Oelsa (Rabenau) , 1982
  • Liquid wallpaper : synonymous with cotton plaster, also incorrectly referred to as liquid woodchip. Components are cotton and other textile and plant fibers, some mixed with effect materials. Cellulose and natural resins serve as binders.
Example of using a wallpaper border
  • Border or wallpaper border : narrow strip of wallpaper that is printed with repetitive motifs, patterns or ornaments and is usually glued horizontally around the entire room to divide the walls vertically or to set accents.
  • Wall mural : Based on different materials. The motif is usually a photo, sometimes also a digitally created graphic that often depicts landscapes and the like.
  • Glass fabric wallpaper : Extremely hard-wearing, paintable textured wallpaper made of glass fiber (mostly used in hospitals, kindergartens, schools or other heavily used rooms).
  • Grass wallpaper : or more correctly China grass wallpaper is a wallpaper in which a grass fabric is applied to a paper carrier. For this purpose, grass is dried, knotted into long threads and then woven as a weft thread. Such wallpapers were very fashionable in the late 1970s through the 1980s. were often painted over in the 80s and 90s and as such you can still find painted wallpapers from time to time. They can be recognized by the knots of the grass threads. This type of wallpaper can still be ordered from specialist retailers today, but it requires a little patience and an experienced upholsterer.
  • Insulating wallpaper : Consists of two layers of paper and one layer up to 10 mm thick made of various materials, e.g. expanded polystyrene , latex foam, aluminum foil, as well as combinations with and without carrier material. Used for thermal insulation , mold control, and supports sound insulation. In the strict sense of the word, not wallpaper, but interior insulation.
  • Plastic wallpaper : (mostly made of foamed vinyl , paintable textured wallpaper)
  • Lacquer wallpaper : similar to the metal effect wallpaper, a strip of wallpaper is glued with a thin aluminum foil and finished with lacquer. Gradient or pearl effects can be achieved through various processes.
  • Leather wallpaper : Wallpaper strip made from one or more pieces of leather sewn or glued together.
  • Metal effect wallpaper: a strip of wallpaper pasted with a thin metal foil, which is then made to discolour chemically or through oxidation. Great effects, but very complex. In 53, 75 or 90 cm width and 7.5–10.05 m length. It requires a lot of experience in wallpapering, as no paste should get onto the surface. Very good underground preparation is required. Under no circumstances should the surface be alkaline, otherwise the wallpaper will be damaged.
  • Pattern wallpaper : Mainly made of cellulose components with the current zeitgeist print. Usually this wallpaper is 53 centimeters wide and 10.05 m long, the pattern is repeated differently both in length and in width. In technical terminology, this is referred to as "wallpaper with a shoulder", as it is important to ensure that the pattern connects seamlessly with the following strip. However, there are also wallpapers that can be processed seamlessly. Each lane can be added to the previous lane as desired, as no lane overlapping pattern has to be observed.
  • Embossed wallpaper : also called textured wallpaper . Several layers of paper are joined together by embossing with an embossing roller. Pattern like pattern wallpaper, but also for direct painting over with wall paints and glazes.
  • Woodchip : The most widespread paintable wall covering consists predominantly of waste paper as well as cellulose and wood chips. Its inventor was the Wuppertal entrepreneur Hugo Erfurt . In the meantime also available as fleece woodchip, easy to apply using the wall adhesive technique and easier to remove again.
  • Silk wallpaper : Wallpaper strips with silk fabric or silk threads, 53, 75 or 90 cm wide and 7.5–10.05 m long. It requires a lot of experience in wallpapering, as no paste should get onto the surface. Very good underground preparation is required.
  • Textile wallpaper : glued with fabric or textile fibers in the wallpaper roll 53, 75 or 90 cm width and from 7.5 to 10.05 m in length. Most of the time the paper of the carrier web can still be seen.
  • Under-wallpaper , also called waste, which is stuck under the wallpaper to improve the adhesive properties, necessary to create a uniformly colored and absorbent surface. Is mainly used for special wallpapers such as B. textile, mineral, or metal wallpapers are used, but also with all other wallpapers to improve the underground. Classically made of paper, now also made of fleece "renovation fleece" in various thicknesses / weights.
  • Non-woven wallpaper : Wall covering with a carrier material made from a particularly high-quality, breathable cellulose-textile fiber combination that is particularly hard-wearing, easy to process and flame-retardant. If necessary, the material ensures that small cracks in the substrate or plaster joints are bridged. When it comes to the surfaces, you can choose between completely smooth to coarse embossing patterns and printed ready-made non-woven wallpapers. The carrier material is dimensionally stable, so it does not require any soaking times during processing.

Applying, wallpapering

Classic procedures

In order to permanently attach the wallpaper to the walls, wallpaper paste based on methyl cellulose, which is mixed in powder form with water, is usually used for cellulose-based wallpapers . We recommend using a special adhesive based on polyvinyl acetate (PVA) / dispersion adhesive for fiberglass , foam polystyrene and other special wallpapers.

A wallpaper table that can be folded in 3 parts with a surface made of raw plywood, a total of 3 m long and in various widths (60 cm, 75 cm or 100 cm) forms the work surface on which the wallpaper is placed with the back up, cut to length and with a Brush or pasting machine is coated with paste. Dispersion adhesives are usually rolled or brushed directly onto the wall. The same applies to special wallpapers. Here it is advisable to follow the instructions of the wallpaper manufacturer.

By folding the wallpaper strip up to 1/3 and 2/3 length in a C-shape, clapping the paste surfaces together, it can also be neatly carried up a stepladder. After opening the longer fold, the beginning of the strip is applied to the previously laid strip at the top of the room edge and on the left, butt or slightly, approx. 1 mm, overlapping (only applies to paper wallpaper or according to the manufacturer's instructions).

With the flat of the hands, a small upper part of the web is first pressed and placed by sliding it on a joint or repeat , the lower fold is opened and the web is pressed downwards with a wallpapering brush or rubber roller.

Wall gluing method

Since non-woven fiber wallpapers remain dimensionally stable when they are moistened or dried, no soaking times are required here. Therefore, when processing the paste, you can apply the paste directly to the wall with a roller or a brush and insert the non-woven fiber wallpaper immediately into the paste bed, starting at the top of the room, pressing down continuously with a brush or roller and then on the lower edge of the room or on the bumper strip cut off.


See also

  • Chinese wallpaper
  • Wallpaper door - thanks to wallpapering, a frameless door that is barely visible when it is closed for inconspicuous entry into a room away from the main door
  • Foil - waterproof self-adhesive foils on shop windows, glass panes, painted surfaces of automobiles
  • Flocking - electrostatic coating of surfaces with a fur made of short plastic hair
  • Panoramic wallpaper Les Chasses de Compiègne by the Parisian manufacturer Jacquemart & Bénard based on a design by Carle Vernet (1812)


  • Wallpaper . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 15, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 515.
  • WF Exner: The wallpaper and colored paper industry for manufacturers and traders, as well as for technical institutes . Bernhard Friedrich Voigt publishing house, Weimar 1869
  • Caroline Eva Gerner, Sabine Thümmler: Gold Rush. The splendor of the gold leather wallpaper . Hirmer, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7774-3285-7
  • Lesley Hoskins (Ed.): The Art of Wallpaper. History, forms, techniques . DVA, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-421-03065-0 (Special edition as The wallpaper. History, design and techniques of wall design . Parkland, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-89340-077-X )
  • Hildegard Hutzenlaub: Historical wallpapers in Hesse from 1700 to 1840 . Diss., Univ. Frankfurt, 2005 ( full text , with rich illustrations)
  • Klaus Mauelshagen (Red.): Wallpapers, interior decoration, accessories. Products, advice, sales . (= Hardware store knowledge; vol. 13). Rohn, Cologne 2005
  • Heinrich Olligs: Wallpapers: their history to the present . Klinkhardt and Biermann, Braunschweig 1969
  • Wolfgang Raith: Wallpapers. Technology & trends . Tervehn, Ditzingen 2005, ISBN 3-935470-07-X
  • Sabine Thümmler: The history of wallpaper. French space art made of paper . Edition Minerva, Eurasburg 1998, ISBN 3-932353-21-8
  • Sabine Thümmler: Wallpaper art. French interior design and interior decoration from 1730–1960. Bernard Poteau Collection . Edition Minerva, Wolfratshausen 2000, ISBN 3-932353-37-4

Web links

Commons : Wallpaper  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikibooks: wallpapering  - learning and teaching materials
Wiktionary: Wallpaper  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. on this: Roland Gööck: Inventions of mankind - health, food, living, building . Sigloch Edition, Blaufelden 2000, ISBN 978-3-89393-204-7 ; P. 394
  2. papiermuseum.at Robert'sche paper machine, Austrian paper maker museum Laakirchen -Steyrermühl, replica of a model
  3. Cf. on this: Roland Gööck: Inventions of mankind - health, food, living, building . Sigloch Edition, Blaufelden 2000, ISBN 978-3-89393-204-7 ; P. 395
  4. Wallpaper production. Wirz Tapeten AG, accessed on June 14, 2019 .
  5. The wallpaper symbols. Retrieved March 24, 2017 .
  6. [1]
  7. ^ Federal guild of upholsterers and decorators
  8. Susanne Reich-te Kate: Painter Practice Manual for wallpapering and renovation technology. (PDF) Henkel AG, 2016, accessed on June 14, 2019 .