What is Commercial Grade wallcovering and why does making the grade matter?
When you buy wallpaper, one way to know if it is high quality is if it is “commercial grade.” When a wallcovering meets the high standards to be called “commercial grade” you’ll know it is more highly suited for residential projects as well, since it has already met strict federal requirements for commercial use. Another tip, if the material is called “wallcovering” instead of “wallpaper,” this indicates that it has met the commercial grade requirements. We use both terms because people are more familiar with wallpaper but Casart Coverings are wallcoverings not standard wallpaper.
Commercial grade wallcovering is typically available to the trade through interior designers and architects at a trade rate but with design fees added. Casart Coverings offers commercial grade wallcovering to everyone without charging extra for our stock designs. We even have designer wallcovering, without the designer fees.
More about commercial grade below. First, here’s a video for you to see how easy installing repositionable wallcovering can be. We used our Casart Light in our French Peacock Damask design for the installation.
What does commercial grade mean? It means that the wallcovering has been put through a battery of tests and has passed to meet requirements to be able to be called “commercial grade” via Federal Specification CCC-W-408D for wallcovering. The following wallcovering characteristics have to be met in order to be used in commercial building specs.
- Color fastness
- Abrasion resistance
- Breaking strength
- Crocking (coloring transferring or wearing off causing discoloration)
- Stain resistance
- Mildew & Mold resistance
- Tear resistance
- Blocking resistance
- Coating adhesion
- Cold crack resistance
- Heat aging resistance
- Flame spread (fire retardant)
- Class A has an FSR of 0 to 25, making it is able to withstand fire for longer than any of the other classifications
- Class B does not withstand fire as long as Class A
- Smoke developement
There are three types of commercial wallcovering and each has a minimum requirement for the above commercial grade characteristics.
Type I is lightweight, durable and meets the minimum requirements for commercial grade. It is typically used for less high-trafficked areas and residential projects.
Our Casart Light is a Type I, Class A wallcovering. It can be used on ceilings as well as walls. It is a 6 ml thick fabric.
Type II is medium weight, durable, wipeable and meets and exceeds minimum requirements. It is stronger than Type I but less cost than Type III. It is typically 20 – 32 oz weight and used for high-traffic areas like hotels, restaurants and most commercial settings.
Our Casart Regular is a Type II, Class A wallcovering. It can be used on walls, backsplashes, stair risers, furniture and other high traffic areas like an entry or bathroom. It is a durable, 18 ml thick vinyl.
Type III is the heaviest duty exceeding all minimum commercial grade requirements. It is the most durable. Typically it is over 22 oz in weight and used for the most extreme heavy to regular traffic areas, such as below wainscoting where the wallpaper may be dinged or scratched, even in elevators or hospitals.
You can also tell high-quality wallpaper by look and feel. It should not be thin. It should be heavier than contact / shelf-liner paper. It sometimes has a slight texture. Most commercial grade wallcovering is 52 inches or wider; whereas, standard wallpaper is typically anywhere from 21 – 27 inches wide. One tip to keep in mind, the wider the wallpaper, the more space is covered in the least amount of installation time.
There are also specialty type wallcoverings, like accoustical, dry-erase, and organic materials like linen, cork or grasscloth that do not fit all these above requirements but are used for specific purposes.
Some films, like our Casart Clear also fall into this category — used for commercial and residential but have different compositional makeup than opaque vinyl or other commercial grade wallcovering. We use it specifically as an option for the Faux Glass Mosaic Tile, when you want the background surface to be visible as grout lines.
When choosing between a standard repositionable and commercial grade wallcovering, here’s another tip to keep in mind about the installation and removal.
The lighter the weight and thickness of the material, the more air pockets and wrinkles may occur, which will be harder and take more time to install. Some lightweight wallcoverings have good durability with some air pockets in the installation but they are easily smoothed away with your hands, while others tend to be similar to contact or gift wrapping paper, without much weight, thickness or flexibility, have endless air bubbles and not much staying power. Lightweight wallpaper may or may not be easily removable. Because it is lightweight means it is not as durable as heavier wallcovering. With a pressure sensitive backing, a lightweight wallpaper may actually adhere more permanently to the wall than a heavier wallcovering would. Standard repositionable wallpaper is typically not reusable — if you ever want to move it to another location, repurpose or take it with you if you move.
We suggest getting samples try them on different surfaces in different scenarios so you’ll know what works best. Our samples are reimbursable with a future larger purchase.
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