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What is Wallpaper Paste?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Wallpaper paste is the adhesive that makes it possible to secure wallpaper to a surface securely. Over the years, a number of different types of wallpaper paste have been developed for use in wallpaper hanging. Here are a few of the options that are available to the wallpaper hanger when it is time to change the look of a space with the use of a wall covering.

Wheat paste is one of the oldest forms of wallpaper paste. Considered to be the most reliable form of wallpaper glue prior to the development of vinyl wall coverings in the middle of the 20th century, wheat paste continues to be popular with many experts. The paste compound is normally sold in bags, and can be mixed just prior to the application. Brushes are used to spread the prepared compound on the back of a section of wallpaper just prior to hanging. Generally, this form of wallpaper paste allows enough time to smooth out creases and work out bubbles in the paper before the paste sets.

Clay based vinyl adhesive is a popular option in wallpaper paste today. As a mixture that will work with vinyl as well as paper wall covering, this type of wallpaper adhesive is composed of clay, dextrin, and minute quantities of biocides and cellulose. Generally, the product is available in one and five gallon pails. Clay adhesives are known for their lower water content, and provide excellent tacking for any wall coverings that are a slightly heavier grade, such as embossed wallpaper.

Cellulose methyl ether is a form of wallpaper paste that has thickening qualities as well as being an excellent adhesive. The compound works well when applied to wood or sheet rock. One drawback is that cellulose methyl ether has the highest water content of any type of wallpaper paste, which can make the application much more involved. The paste works best with wallpaper products that are somewhat porous, such as grass cloth or silk.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including HomeQuestionsAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon43667 — On Aug 31, 2009

we have been told to buy solvent free, ph neutral wallpaper paste for Villa Nova Tiku wallpaper, but all i can find at local DIY shops is Solvite all purpose. Will this be OK?

By mdt — On Mar 18, 2008

The problem may be due to one of the additives in the formula other than the clay. If spraying a little water on the spot is not enough to permeate the paste and allow you to wipe it away with a wet sponge, contact the manufacturer and see what they recommend. If this is happening to you, it no doubt has happened to others and the manufacturer most likely knows a simple solution.

By anon9864 — On Mar 15, 2008

After hanging wallpaper with a clay based adhesive I am having trouble removing the paste from the hung paper. Any suggestions?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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