Is Most Wallpaper Toxic?

Written by:

Maia James

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Many of my private consulting clients are looking to wallpaper their homes. Unfortunately, almost all wallpaper currently on the market is coated in vinyl (AKA PVC, which contains endocrine-disrupting phthalates).

What follows are the brands I’ve found that are free of PVC. Please comment below with any others you’ve found! (There are a bunch of other considerations if you want your wallpaper to be super-green, like finding ones made of recycled papers, dyed with only soy-based inks, and so on. If I were undertaking this project, my primary concern would be finding a line that’s free of PVC, and any other eco features would be gravy.)

Maison+C+Coven+Mahogany+ gimme the good stuff
Coven wallpaper by Maison C.

PVC-Free Wallpaper Lines

genevieve floral wallpaper from spoonflower
Genevieve wallpaper from Spoonflower
  1. Maison C. (my personal favorite)
  2. Spoonflower
  3. Ferm Living
  4. Madison and Grow
  5. Twenty2
  6. Paper Mills
  7. Flat Vernacular (avoid their mylar version)
  8. Pintura
  9. Eskayel

If you’re considering buying any of these lines, please check with them to confirm that the specific paper you’ve selected is free of PVC/vinyl. Some brands can even show you certifications of purity.

Non-Toxic Wallpaper Glues and Adhesives

When hanging wallpaper, you’ll also want to make sure you use a non-toxic glue, and definitely one that doesn’t contain fungicides. You can actually make this yourself with flour. There are companies that make non-toxic wallpaper glue as well, but most of them are in Europe.

The ingredient in these nontoxic pastes is methylcellulose, which the Environmental Working Group gives a 0 on the hazard scale. Here are a couple of non-toxic pastes I’ve found.

  1. Auro 389 Wallpaper Paste 
  2. Mister Art

Stay sane,

Maia, Founder & CEO

PS: A number of clients have also asked about VOC-free chalkboard paint. For that I like this one by Lullaby Paints.

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Leave a Reply

  1. Nicole Olesh Avatar
    Nicole Olesh

    Is Serena & Lilly wallpaper non-toxic? I called and wasn’t confident in their answer. They said it is made from “regular paper and there is no lead in the ink…the toxins come from the wallpaper glue.” I was going to choose a non-toxic glue, but how can I confirm there are no toxins in the paper? I also read that the toxins dissipate over time, so if the wallpaper is hung and the room is vacant to air out for a week or so, it will no longer give off toxins. is that true?

  2. Tara Avatar

    Hi there, thanks for the useful information on wallpaper/wallpaper paste. I found this wallpaper on burke and would like to place an order asap to update my dining room. it sounds good, although I am unsure of it because the description says “acrylic coated” could you let me know if you think it’s safe for home?

    Brilliant Scroll Wallpaper in Grey and Neutrals by Seabrook Wallcovering

    Features: Acrylic-Coated – Unpasted – Pretrimmed
    Strippable – Washable – Lightfast
    This collection is environmentally friendly. Our manufacturers use paper from sustainable forests and water-based non-toxic inks for a healthy indoor environment and a biodegradable future.