What Is the Wallpaper Printing Process?

by | Dec 6, 2022 | Large Format Printing

Have you ever wondered what goes into creating the wallpaper that you love?

Wallpaper has been around for almost 200 years, and while the process has become more streamlined, the fundamentals of how it works are much the same. Below are the various wallpaper printing methods.

Wallpaper Printing Methods

Block Printing

Block printing was the first process utilized to systematically create wallpaper. It consisted of carving the design into a block of wood (usually from a fruit tree) and then pressing it on the paper, like a stamp. 

Today, the design is made of metal, linoleum, or plastic since it is harder to break or crack. Block printing is a very time-intensive process, making it expensive.

Surface Printing

Surface printing was developed in the 1840s and is the first mechanized process for printing wallpaper. The ink for the design is laid at once, and up to 12 colors can be used. Since all colors are done at once without drying in between, the images are not as crisp.

Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing is similar to surface printing, except for the rubber cylinder with the raised image used to transfer the design to the paper. This allows for less ink to be used and for a more exact image. Flexographic printing can also create similar looks to other methods like surface or screen printing.

Rotary Screen Printing

Rotary screen printing is like hand screen printing, only automated. Instead of using a roller to stamp the paper, there is a hollow cylindrical screen with small openings that allows the ink to pass only where needed for the design.

Rotary screen printing uses the dry-on-dry technique, so it is dried between each layer of color. Usually, 7 to 8 colors are chosen, but up to 12 can be used.

Rotogravure Printing

Rotogravure printing was the most cost-effective printing process for wallpaper during the 1950s and 1960s. Rotogravure uses a hard-engraved cylinder to transfer the image to the paper. The image is recessed instead of raised, allowing the pockets to fill with color to be transferred. The deeper the pocket, the darker the color will appear.

Digital Printing

Digital printing designs are created on a computer and then printed on paper, just like on a home computer and printer. There are endless color and design opportunities with digital paper. Even though it is readily accessible, you can still run into problems with poor resolution or printing.

Wallpaper Printing Process – The Bottom Line

We have come a long way in the wallpaper printing process. What used to be a slow, time-intensive process has quickened with the introduction of new technology. Technology has made the process easier and less expensive.

Even though the process has undergone many evolutions, the end result is still beautifully crafted wallpaper.

Samantha Hawrylack

Samantha Hawrylack

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