Metallic wallpaper: The Guide
The surface of metallic wallpaper consists of thinly rolled metal foils or metallised plastic foils. These models can represent a variety of metals which give any room a special touch. Luxurious, modern, classic or special Vintage and Industrial looks are given an exciting new dimension with these exquisite wallpapers.
Table of Contents
- What is metallic wallpaper?
- How do wallpapers get the special metallic effect?
- What are the most common colours of metallic wallpaper?
- What are the effects which metallic wallpapers with special foils can create?
- Which are the most popular patterns for metallic wallpaper?
- Which interior design styles can benefit from metallic wallpaper?
- Which rooms are suitable for metallic wallpaper?
- What are the special characteristics of metallic wallpaper?
- Which wallpaper manufacturers are known for models with a metallic look?
- What special rules must be observed when working with metallic wallpapers?
- Our tips: Interior design ideas with metallic wallpapers
Metallic wallpapers have a carrier layer of non-woven material onto which a thinly rolled metal foil is laminated. They are treated with a special coating and their fascinating colours and effects are due to varnishes and glazes as well as special surface treatments.
Non-woven wallpaper as carrier material
The carrier layer for metallic wallpapers is non-woven wallpaper. The compacted mixture of cellulose and textile fibres provides tear resistance and conceals minor irregularities of the wall surface. Advantages are also evident when wallpapering, because the wallpapering paste is applied directly to the wall and soaking times are unnecessary. In addition, the removal of non-woven wallpaper is easy as it can be pulled off length by length in a dry state.
Laminating thinly rolled metal foil to the carrier layer
Thinly rolled metal foil is attached to the non-woven carrier layer. The foil is usually based on aluminium as it offers the best conditions for further processing. Metallised plastic foils are a new, innovative option for the surface design of metallic wallpaper models. In terms of look and feel, they can barely be distinguished from real metal foils.
A practically invisible coating repels moisture and protects the wallpaper from environmental influences and dirt. Varnishes and glazes, often in combination with sophisticated surface design techniques, create different metallic colours and amazing effects.
The fascinating effects of metallic wallpapers are created by special surface treatments. Embossing, oxidation, etching, dyeing and printing with patterns give metallic wallpapers many different and exciting looks.
Using highly specialised embossing techniques, the surface is given the desired structure which can range from fine tor coarse. Relief-like high-low structures are also an option, making certain patterns appear three- or multi-dimensional.
With the help of oxidative processes, weathering effects can be created, e.g. those caused by rust, verdigris or tarnishing on metals. The term "oxidation" refers to a chemical reaction in which a substance gives off electrons that are absorbed by another substance. The absorbing substance is reduced in the process. One of the most common oxidising agents is, unsurprisingly, oxygen.
Corrosive substances such as acids or caustic agents are used to remove material from the metal surface. This creates indentations and ever new, excitingly random patterns.
Original metal colours are created with special glazes, varnishes and paints. Matt-gloss effects and iridescent colours can also be produced this way. Colouring by hand is an elaborate method of incorporating colourful pattern structures or accentuating printed patterns.
Printed patterns give the visual metal structure a particularly striking aura, because the characteristics of the imitated metal and those of the pattern form an interesting combination. Silver metal and Op Art geometry create a spacey feeling, while gold metal and baroque reflect sensual splendour. Incident light emphasises the patterns printed on the metal surface.
Iridescent colour plays attract the eye. Gold, silver, copper, bronze, chrome and steel grey are among the colour favourites for metallic wallpaper.
The purest, most magnificent and most expensive of all precious metals symbolises wealth, the sun, power and timelessness. Metallic wallpaper models in gold help create opulent, impressive room designs with a luxurious shimmer. Rose gold is a combination of gold and copper which appears feminine, light and sophisticated and adds a magical touch of romance to the room.
Metallic wallpapers in silver are often used for spacey, futuristic or modern room designs. Silver is glamorous yet subtle and promotes communication. It has a cool, slightly unapproachable quality and can be combined with almost any other colour. It also stands for purist elegance and clear lines.
Copper has many facets and is a symbol of luck. This metal colour varies depending on the proportions of red, orange and brown and can be lighter or darker. Green oxidised copper manifests as verdigris (blue-green) or patina (rust). Metallic wallpapers in copper are ideal for unconventional styles away from the mainstream, e.g. the Industrial look.
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin with a reddish-brown colour (sometimes with a touch of gold) which comes in various degrees of brightness and shine. Sculptures and other works of art are often made of bronze to express value and durability. Metallic wallpaper models in bronze combine an unconventional taste with understated elegance to create exciting scenarios.
As a transition metal, chrome comes in various nuances. The colour is usually associated with a shiny light or dark silver tone. In design and art, chrome stands for innovative, fast-changing and future-oriented ideas. This can be applied directly to wallpaper design, too. Chrome provides strong reflections, a fact that is widely utilised by designers.
The main component of steel is iron. Steel is robust and durable as well as flexible and shapeable. The typical steel grey reflects these characteristics whilst adding a touch of elegance. Modern interiors based on the motto "less is more" benefit hugely from metallic wallpaper in steel grey. Stainless steel should be mentioned here as a special variation.
New types of special foils allow for even more unique metallic effects that play with the light in many different ways. Holograms, 3D, reflections, glitter or rust are particularly effective in this context.
A 3D projection in the room is called a hologram. Hologram foils conjure up the unique rainbow colours used by holography on the wall and create imaginative illusions.
Three-dimensional effects bring patterns, motifs and colours to life. They provide visual depth and create movement in the room. The effect of light seems to make the colours and shapes change continuously. The wallpaper takes on a dynamic life of its own which shapes the individual design concept.
Mirror, mirror on the wall (paper) - special foils create breathtaking reflections, including prismatic reflections and those of cut diamonds. Colourful light reflections in iridescent colours are another option.
Glitter and mica effects which make up or underline the colour structure of metal fill the room with starlight or diamond sparkle. A very varied colour palette leaves nothing to be desired. From gold and copper to wild orange, magic violet, emerald green, and ocean blue, everything is possible.
When metals decay as a result of oxidation, the process is called corrosion. Corrosion manifests as rust in iron or verdigris in copper. Patina or patina rust, on the other hand, is a greenish protective layer that is formed by the reaction of copper with carbon dioxide and sulphur. Special foils reflecting this phenomenon are treated with rusted iron powder or oxidised copper.
Monochrome hues representing the respective metals are the classic among these high-quality wallpapers. In addition, geometric, floral or ornamental patterns are also very popular on metallic wallpaper.
Geometric shapes such as circles, rhombuses, rectangles or squares give the wallpaper a very modern and dynamic character. Inspired by the design-heavy 60s and 70s, octagons and waves are combined with metal structures to form a captivating overall picture. Intense, bright colours emphasise the shapes and provide a contrast to the metallic background.
Floral elements such as flowers, tendrils, leaves and blossoms reflect a sense of natural growth with a touch of romanticism. Stylistic, abstract or lifelike: the different floral designs make every wallpaper unique. Individual pattern components can be highlighted with a metallic shimmer.
Inspired by many different styles and eras, ornaments are the crowning of metallic wallpapers. Baroque, Art Nouveau or Art Deco are just a few examples. Moorish or Arabic decorative tiles also serve as templates. Composite ornaments of geometric shapes in combination with animals and floral elements offer the eye a plethora of variety.
When it comes to metallic wallpaper, gold, silver, copper, bronze or steel immediately spring to mind. Each metal has its own special characteristics in terms of colour, structure, shine and texture, and these can be reproduced on metallic wallpaper true to the original or deceptively real. The surface of monochrome wallpapers is often shiny and smooth.
Metallic wallpapers fulfil a huge number of different requirements which often reflect the character of the designers and their ideas. They can be used to create luxurious, modern or classic interior design styles and work perfectly with Vintage and Industrial styles.
The symbolic power of precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum determines the selection of metallic wallpapers that are meant to provide a sense of luxury. The room can be furnished in an elegant, glamorous, high quality and exclusive way, with the luxurious aspect being added by choosing a specific type of metal.
Modern interior design comes in many different styles. An urban feeling can be created with metallic wallpapers based on urban building materials such as steel. Hi-tech and spacey rooms benefit from chrome and silver, but also from highly reflective or sparkling metallic wallpapers.
The classic interior design style relies on ornaments from popular art eras such as Baroque and Art Nouveau which boast a majestic and opulent effect. Combined with appropriate metals or metallic effects, classic interiors are given a spectacular character. The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles is a fantastic example.
Old metals showing clear signs of time and use are perfect for the continuously popular Vintage look. Metallic wallpaper models in the style of copper plates with patina or tarnished silver or brass as well as imitations of historical tin tiles are particularly suitable for this style.
Rough and rusty, marked by corrosion - metallic wallpapers imitating oxidised iron and copper with verdigris are great elements to achieve this sought-after look. Cool construction metals such as steel, stainless steel and bronze also do justice to this popular interior design concept which is modelled on old factories. Concrete- or coarse old wood-look wallpapers are ideal combination partners.
Metallic wallpapers set the scene in large, representative rooms such as living rooms or lofts as well hallways with little daylight. They provide a groovy or glamorous ambience in bars, clubs and discos.
Living rooms are where people come together, relax and spend quality time with each other. Since guests are welcome here, a representative design which also shows a unique personal style is ideal. Depending on the chosen metals and their characteristics or effects, ultra-modern, classic or futuristic interior design ideas all benefit from metallic wallpaper.
The corridor is often characterised by a lack of daylight. Metallic wallpapers in various designs (e.g. with glitter, mirror effects or natural shine) provide light reflections which make the room appear brighter and wider. Generally speaking, metallic wallpapers are particularly suitable for areas without a lot of natural light where artificial light can be used to skilfully set the scene.
Generously proportioned lofts are predestined for metallic wallpaper. There is plenty of space for them to fully develop their very own effect. The Industrial look can be combined with other materials or wallpapers that underline the factory character of the building.
Bars and Clubs
Hip urban locations are practically screaming out for metallic wallpaper. Whether it turns out to be a kind of party factory in the style of Andy Warhol with plenty of silver-coloured aluminium, an "elegantly wasted" factory building, a magnificent Gatsby-style dance hall, or a spacey glitter palace is left to the creativity of the designer.
Not suitable for wet rooms
Since metal foil is not breathable, it acts as a vapour barrier and prevents moisture from escaping. In wet rooms, this can lead to surface oxidation and mould growth behind the wallpaper. Metallic wallpapers are not suitable for basements, bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms. During sleep, the body sweats, creating moisture. Metallic wallpaper thus prevents a healthy climate in the bedroom.
Metallic wallpapers are biologically inert and boast low flammability. Other positive characteristics are a limited amount of protection from eavesdropping, heat reflection, washability and very good light resistance.
The term inert means lacking a usual or anticipated chemical or biological reaction. Metallic wallpapers are biologically inert and do not merge with other organic substances. Therefore, neither fungi nor mould or other micro-organisms can settle on the metal foil. Metallic wallpaper models are also hypo-allergenic, making them ideal for people with allergies.
Limited amount of protection from eavesdropping
Since radio waves cannot penetrate the metal foil (or only with difficulty), metallic wallpapers are considered to be partially "tap-proof". This can be a great advantage in business spaces where sensitive information is exchanged, to name but one example. However, if you are looking for dedicated shielding wallpaper, it is better to rely on special models which have been optimised for this purpose.
Metallic wallpaper has a thermal insulation effect. Heat radiation from sunlight or artificial light is reflected by the metal foil, making the room a few degrees warmer even without turning up the heating. Existing heat is stored longer and is released more slowly into the environment due to the insulating effect of the metal.
In terms of cleanability, metallic wallpapers are washable and can be wiped with a damp cloth. However, the fact that they are washable does not automatically mean that they are suitable for wet rooms where a large amount of moisture would come into contact with the wallpaper surface. This would lead to oxidation of the metal foil and mould growth on the back of the wallpaper. Metallic wallpaper models are therefore not suitable for wet rooms.
Low flammability is one of the classifications of the combustibility or fire behaviour of building materials and substances. For wallpapers with this classification, ignition is significantly delayed and they are also self-extinguishing. In public and commercial spaces, this characteristic is of great importance as it complies with legal regulations.
Very good light resistance
Sunlight and exposure to light cannot harm metallic wallpaper even over a longer period of time. They retain their colour brilliance and gloss effects. This means that metallic wallpapers boast the highest possible light resistance level of all wallpaper materials.
The production of metal-look wallpaper requires special processes and solid experience. Amongst the internationally renowned manufacturers are Zoffany, York and Harlequin.
In 1983, British manufacturer Zoffany launched its first wallpaper collection. The house of Zoffany is known for unusual materials and printing techniques. The metallic wallpapers in the range offer a plethora of possibilities for classic, modern or vintage looks and continuously surprise customers with innovative designs.
American wallpaper manufacturer York was founded in 1895 and looks back on a long and successful tradition. The largest and oldest manufacturer in the USA, selling its collections in over 85 countries, inspires with stunning historical archive patterns as well as contemporary designs. Extravagant materials and effects, amongst them metal, are a speciality.
Harlequin is a British wallpaper and textile brand that is constantly delighting the market with remarkable innovations. In collaboration with renowned designers, the company creates discreetly luxurious, modern and retro designs. Sustainable paper and ecological production processes are its hallmark. Harlequin's metallic wallpapers boast multi-faceted oxidised metal imitations or incorporate classic patterns.
Metallic wallpapers require a smooth, even base which must not be alkaline. The danger of short-circuiting must always be taken into account with these models. Consequently, only wallpapering paste with low water content should be used.
No alkaline surfaces
Metallic wallpaper models are unsuitable for alkaline surfaces with a high acid content such as fresh plaster (e.g. lime mortar plaster) or concrete. The metal foil would react with it and discolour. Any substrate should be checked for alkalinity before wallpapering. To do this, moisten it with distilled water, then use indicator paper (pH test strips) and compare the colour produced this way with the corresponding colour scale. A value higher than 7.8 indicates a basic or alkaline surface which must be prepared before wallpapering by fluosilicating, priming, smoothing or hanging lining paper. So-called "fluate" (fluoride silicate) neutralises, seals and hardens alkaline surfaces.
Beware of short circuits!
Since metal foil is electrically conductive, it must not come into contact with the metal parts of electrical components such as socket frames, cable strands or current terminals. There is a risk of short circuiting or electric shock. When wallpapering, the current must be switched off via the relevant fuses. Special care should be taken when wallpapering around sockets and switches.
Smooth and level surface
Metallic wallpaper needs a smooth, even base as these models are also ultra-smooth. On glossy surfaces, even the slightest defects are visible and carelessness is "punished" with annoying shadows or other surface irregularities. In addition, the wall surface might be visible through the wallpaper. Accurate pre-treatment by professional filling, sanding, priming or the use of lining wallpaper is therefore essential.
Wallpapering paste with low water content
Only wallpapering paste with a low water content should be used for metallic wallpapers as the water in the paste doesn't dry easily under them. In addition, the paste should have strong adhesive power (e.g. dispersion adhesive based on plasticiser-free synthetic resin) as the weight of metallic wallpaper makes a very high initial adhesion necessary. To make it easier to remove wallpaper with a metal surface later, we recommend splittable lining paper as a base, where the underlayer remains on the wall after removal.
Further notes on applying metallic wallpaper
- The paste should be applied directly to the wall, but not too thickly (wall-pasting technique).
- Crinkles and creases should be carefully avoided as they cannot be fixed later.
- Visible seams are completely normal for metallic wallpaper and should not be seen as a defect.
- The wallpaper strips can be put up flush or overlap with a double seam cut (depending on the manufacturer's instructions).
- Wrap a soft cloth around a wallpaper smoother and push air bubbles out towards the sides.
- Smaller air bubbles under the wallpaper can be removed by using a needle to pierce them.
- Dab off paste residues immediately with a damp cloth or sponge; never wipe or rub.
- At the end of the wallpapering process, wash the wallpaper surface carefully with clear water and dry with a cloth or chamois.
- Draughts and intense heat in the room should be avoided.
- Baroque grunge in the living room: Corroded, aged metal, e.g. copper or iron, forms the background for an elegant baroque pattern that creates a striking colour contrast. The rest of the furniture may also be contrasting, with golden highlights and furniture in the baroque Shabby Chic style.
- Welcome to the Silver Star Club: A silver metallic wallpaper with a gloss-matt effect and irregular structure or 3D pattern acts as a turbo booster for great ideas in creative/work spaces. The wallpaper should beautify the wall to which the eye is automatically drawn.
- Diamond sparkle in the hallway: Glittering metal-look wallpaper in light pastel shades sets highlights in the hallway that gain in intensity when illuminated directly by lamps. Soft, high-quality carpets and stylish lamps are ideal tools to complement the inviting, glamorous flair.