Wonderful World of Wallcoverings

Wonderful World of Wallcoverings

After a recent adventure in the Wonderful World of Wallcoverings, we discovered a product that can be used to protect the interior of exterior walls here in our very own hot and humid New Orleans. In two of our last three Lunch n Learns, there has been major concern raised about the use of vinyl wall coverings on the interior of exterior walls. The reason is that in a high humidity climate, the interior wall covering could act as a vapor barrier, creating a condensation end point for humidity on the backside of the wall covering and risking mold build up between the wall covering and the wallboard- a health concern! A summary of collected wallcovering research via phone calls and online explorations can be found here: Wallcoverings_simple-comparison.pdf

Many wallcoverings protect walls from damage, including InPro, a reputable company producing HPDs and EPDs. InPro also provides G2 Wallcovering, a vinyl free alternative that costs a little more ($68 for PVC-free v $62 per 4'x8' sheet). However InPro's impact resistant wallcoverings are impermeable and do not come microvented. Microvented vinyl wallcoverings can have a permeability of 8 and sometimes much higher, but they do not add any impact resistance to a wallboard. 

  (above: VRP wallcovering comes in a wide variety of textures; far above: a sample microvented vinyl)

(above: VRP wallcovering comes in a wide variety of textures; far above: a sample microvented vinyl)

The one material which fulfilled both a Class III permeability rating and improved the impact rating of bare wallboard was the VRP wall system. The VRP system is a fiberglass wallcovering with a layer of polyurethane that can be painted over with any color paint. HDR architect Bob Holm (whose project is mentioned in the product literature) said their team had sought VRP as an "alternative to Acrovyn" and noted that the sytem is "extremely impact resistant, even with beds and carts constantly hitting the walls." Find an executive summary comparing the two wallcoverings here: Wallcovering_ExecutiveSummary.pdf