The 9 Best Eco-Friendly Wallpapers of 2022

Our top choice for non-toxic wallpaper is Spoonflower.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Two people putting up wallpaper

Liquorice / Getty Images

In addition to adding personality to a room, one reason to choose wallpaper over paint is durability. Even the best modern paints are meant to last about five years before repainting. But most uses will require touch ups for nicks and chipping in just two to three years. Although wallpaper costs more to install, especially if you hire a professional to do it, most wallpapers by comparison should last closer to 15 years.

Unfortunately, some wallpapers can contribute to indoor air quality problems. Most wallpapers on the market today contain some form of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a petroleum-based chemical that off-gasses volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

However, there are more eco-friendly alternatives. These brands will have certifications noted on the label or website to back up their claims. When possible, look for products made from sustainable sources, such as recycled and organic materials, or Forest Service Council (FSC)-Certified wood and other fibers. Water-based inks are preferable to solvent-based inks that are more likely to contain VOCs. Look for wallpapers specifically marked low or zero-VOC, PVC-free, and toxic-metal free.

We conducted extensive research for to find some of the best eco-friendly wallpapers available today.

Best Overall

Spoonflower Eco-Friendly Wallpaper

Spoonflower Wallpaper

Spoonflower

Spoonflower earned the top spot in this list for so many reasons. Foremost, we love the wide, yet affordable, range of designs in nine styles and literally hundreds of topics. Spoonflower got its start as a print-on-demand fabric company that eventually expanded into eco-friendly wallpapers. With offices in Durham, North Carolina and Berlin, Germany, it partners with independent artists around the world so to offer more than one million possible wallpapers. The artists earn a commission on each design purchased, and then the wallpaper is produced at a carbon-neutral factory and printed at a wind-powered facility.

All of their wallpapers are made with water-based pigment inks and dyes. Spoonflower offers three different types of eco-friendly wallpaper: pre-pasted removable smooth, peel and stick removable, and traditional non-pasted pebble.

The pre-pasted removable wallpaper is a durable paper with a water-activated adhesive backing. It should last, but when it’s time for a change, this paper is fully removable and recyclable.

The peel and stick removable wallpapers are self-adhesive, removable and re-positionable with a woven-textured fabric and adhesive backing. Both the pre-pasted and peel and stick options are formaldehyde-, phthalate- and PVC-free and do not contain flame retardants.

For playrooms, bathrooms, restaurants, and office spaces you’ll want their non-pasted traditional pebble wallpaper that has a durable, subtle leathered texture and a matte finish. It’s PVC-free and resistant to mold, mildew and water making it excellent for high traffic spaces. It is considered a “Type II wallcovering” which means it is heavier duty. Spoonflower’s wallpaper is Class A/M1/B1 Fire Rated and they recommend that it should be applied by a professional (or very experienced) paper installer.

Some customers note that the adhesive of the peel and stick paper has mild odor as does the non-pasted backing. Your biggest issue with this wallpaper will be deciding which of the thousands of options is best for your project.

Best Budget

York Wallcoverings

York Wallcoverings

Burke Decor

If you’re on a budget, you might think wallpaper could be out of your reach. But if you are into DIY, there are definitely affordable options available. For over 125 years, York Wallcoverings has been manufacturing wallpaper from the same factory in the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania. Because they’re made in the United States, you can find some of their designs for as low as $30 per roll.

The company offers a wide range of eco-friendly wallpapers made with natural materials like leaves, sand, grasses, recycled glass beads, mother-of-pearl, and cork. York is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. It implements sustainable practices at the factory level, using a smoke-free water-based ink system so efficient that it eliminates the need for emission controls and reduced its natural gas consumption by 40% and electric consumption by 10%.

The low-VOC pre-pasted wallpapers are printed on sustainably sourced paper that come in a range of styles including botanical, geometric, and textured. Because this company also make a lot of vinyl wallpapers, make sure to look for the “Eco-Décor” designation that confirms that the wallpaper is cadmium- and mercury-free, made from managed renewable resources, and does not contribute to ozone depletion.

Budget Tip

If you are papering a smaller area and can take your time while shopping, you can find expensive brands in discontinued and last year’s designs for up to 75% off. But buyer beware, they’ll rarely accept returns on discontinued items. Most sites also offer a 10-25% discount on your first order. Watch for the pop up on your first visit to their website.

Best Grasscloth

twenty2 Grasscloth Wallpapers

twenty2 Grasscloth Wallpapers

Exult Design / twenty2

Grasscloth can be one of the most natural wallpapers because it is typically made from hand or machine weaving natural, renewable fibers like jute, hemp, and reed that are fast-growing and don’t require extensive resources, pesticides and fertilizers to grow well. Grasscloth wallpaper is a beautiful material that can add texture and sophistication to any room. Courser fiber weaves can add a rustic feel to stair fronts, accent walls, entryways, or entire rooms.

Most of the grasscloth produced today is hand-crafted in Asia. Renewable fibers are harvested from sustainable crops, air-dried in the sun (reducing energy use) and colored with water-based vegetable dyes. That means grasscloth is earth-friendly throughout its lifecycle and biodegradable. Most are attached to a paper backing that comes without paste.

Brooklyn-based Twenty2 offers more than 70 grasscloth wallpapers that are hand-woven by skilled artisans on non-mechanized looms. They come in a range of natural fibers including sisal (from the Mexican agave plant), jute grasscloth, hemp burlap, and paperweave. Each is undyed or dyed with water-based vegetable dyes and bonded to chemical-free paper, making it breathable and VOC-free.

Natural vegetable dyes can fade in direct sunlight and run if exposed to excess water, so think carefully about your project to make sure grasscloth will be suitable. Courser weaves may also need to be dusted in some environments.

Twenty2 mentions that if a grasscloth is not in stock when you order, the lead time could be up to 12 weeks. All of Twenty2’s grasscloth wallpapers are ASTM-E84 Class A fire rated, which means they have been treated with a flame retardant that give them the lowest fire spread rate and minimal smoke production making them suitable for the higher standards used in commercial applications. Twenty2 recommends using a professional for installation unless you have a lot of experience.

Best Peel & Stick/Removable

Wallshoppe

Wallshoppe Wallpapers

Wallshoppe

If you think wallpaper can only be used by homeowners, you’ll be pleased to find that many brands have collections of wallpapers designed with easy installation and removal in mind. Some can even be reused, so if you’re moving you can take it with you.

Wallshoppe offers a wide variety of traditional, removable, and grasscloth wallpapers as well as kraft paper-based papers that are unbleached and have the effect of vintage parchment paper. You can choose among more than 2,000 beautiful colors and patterns.

Wallshoppe’s paper and removable wallpapers are PVC-free, non-woven, eco-friendly papers made of 30% recycled materials. They’re reinforced with natural latex for added strength and durability. Its environmentally-responsible construction also supports Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits.

The wallpaper uses a digitally-printed odorless latex ink that is “nontoxic and safe for applications in schools and hospitals," according to the manufacturer. They’re made to order in Los Angeles, California so they are not refundable.

The peel and stick removable papers are backed with a pressure sensitive, low tack adhesive that creates a temporary bond with the wall surface. They can be removed by peeling back from a corner slowly.

Application is typically easy enough for one person to apply, readjust, and handle, without the paper sticking to itself. The paper is thick enough to be sturdy during application while still resulting in a polished, smooth surface.

Best Modern Design

MissPrint Wallpaper

MissPrint Wallpaper

MissPrint

When many of us think of wallpaper, we think old fashioned. But many eco-friendly wallpapers come in colorful, bold contemporary designs. Established in 2005 by mother-daughter co-founders, MissPrint’s wallpapers come in an array of modern designs including fresh graphics and bold geometric shapes. Many of their colorful prints are inspired by Scandinavian illustrations, and all are originally hand drawn.

Each is printed with organic, water-based pigments that are free of PVC, heavy metals, and fire retardants. The non-woven papers come from sustainably managed forests that are certified by independent third-party certification via Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or FSC.

The wallpaper is applied by pasting the wall so you can choose the paste that works best for your home or project. All MissPrint wallpapers are made in the UK and ship worldwide.

Best Classic Designs

Wallquest

Wallquest

Burke Decor

Some of us turn to wallpaper to bring a sophisticated classic design to our home or office. The majority of Wallquest’s 900+ residential unpasted wallpaper designs are PVC-free and printed on paper from renewable forests or recycled sources. Each uses water-based inks.

Although Wallquest has been a U.S.-based company since 1985, its roots are in the French wallpaper company originally called Consortium du Papier Peint that was founded by the Lafoy family of Lyon, France in 1938. That history might explain why Wallquest is able to offer so many classic styles.

Wallquest also cares about what it releases to the environment. All excess ink and waste water are captured and thoroughly filtered by a third party treatment system before discharge.

Best Kids Designs

If Your Walls Could Talk

If Your Walls Could Talk

If Your Walls Could Talk / Etsy

In general, wallpaper is not recommended for use in children’s rooms because it can be difficult to keep clean or change if the child outgrows the pattern. But some peel and stick and removable wallpapers can help. Children’s rooms are where the bold, bright, creative wallpaper patterns can really shine.

We like Irena Morgan’s Etsy store, If Your Walls Could Talk, of Gainesville, Virginia. Her PVC-free peel and stick wallpapers come in more than 140 kid’s room designs as well additional floral, nature, geometric and, boho styles. She also offers custom designs too. All are “repositionable” because they are printed on LexJet Peel-n-Stick repositionable fabric media with durable, archival, pigment-based Canon inks printed on a bright white matte finish. The fabric is backed with a repositionable adhesive that removes cleanly and easily with no residue. 

The wallpapers are also reasonably affordable so you can change them as your child grows.

Best Vintage Designs

Wallpaper from the 70s

Wallpaper from the 70s

Wallpaper from the 70s

Vintage designs are more popular today than ever before. You’ll find more than 300 eco-friendly wallpaper designs from Wallpaper from the 70s. The styles include art nouveau, art deco, Bauhaus, Scandinavian, Oriental, maritime, and shabby chic to name just a few. Although the company is based in Germany, it also ships from the United States. When in stock, products can ship within one to two business days.

The paper-based wallpaper carrier layer is made of recycled paper with higher-quality paper for the surface layer. The eco-friendly wallpapers are not coated with sealers or fire retardant. Most of the eco-friendly wallpapers are affordable, wet removable, spongeable and use a ‘paste the wallpaper’ installation method.

Best Splurge

Graham & Brown

Graham & Brown

Graham & Brown

If you’re trying to bring a luxurious feel to your home, the right statement wallpaper could be exactly what you need. Graham & Brown offers hundreds of designs made with water-based inks on papers sourced using sustainably managed forests to produce VOC-free wallcoverings. Even the machinery used in the forest runs on biodegradable fuel. These wallpapers have been made in Blackburn, England for more than 60 years.

Because Graham & Brown also make vinyl papers, be sure you’re getting the digitally-printed paper-based wallpapers (about 35% of their offerings) because, as of 2022, they are Carbon-Zero.

Although the website does not make it easy to tell what materials the wallpapers are made from, it is clear this company is making an effort operate sustainably. It has been working over the last 20 years to improve, currently meeting Carbon-Neutral Status and working toward becoming fully carbon zero by 2030. It gets all of its electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar. The company recycles its used inks, uses electric vehicles, and the recyclable packaging is made from 70% post-consumer recycled cardboard. We love that it is trying to be transparent about its progress and what it is still working toward.

Graham & Brown donates to the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Borneo and to sustainable forestry projects in Uruguay.

Final Verdict

We love Spoonflower Eco-Friendly Wallpapers because they use water-based inks on their pre-pasted and peel and stick wallpapers that are flame-retardant-, formaldehyde-, phthalate- and PVC-free. When you want easy installation and removal for rentals or more frequent redecorating, consider Wallshoppe’s digitally-printed wallpaper made from partially recycled paper. It comes in 2,000 beautiful colors and patterns and is so eco-friendly it qualifies for LEED credits.

What to Look for in Eco-Friendly Wallpaper

Wallpaper that is installed in dry areas, such as living rooms or dining rooms, can easily last for 15 years or longer with minimal maintenance. In damp areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, wallpaper can warp or peel due to exposure to high humidity.

All of the options listed in this article offer free or low-cost samples so take care to be sure you’re getting exactly the product that’s right for you before you order. Some print-on-demand wallpapers have a six to twelve week lead time from the order date and are not returnable, so check and plan accordingly. Because of the labor and cost you’ll invest, unless you’re using removable wallpaper, a little planning can help you get it right on your first try.

Depending on the type of wallpaper, it can take several hours or even days to properly remove old wallpaper. It may need to be steamed off or scraped off by hand. So take your time when choosing so you’ll be happy with your choice.

If you’re finding it difficult to even determine if a wallpaper is eco-friendly, you’re not alone. Many manufacturers and suppliers carry both eco-friendly and non but don’t make it easy to search for them separately.

To evaluate if a wallpaper is eco-friendly you’ll need to consider a range of factors. You’ll consider the materials the paper is made from, the inks, paints, coatings and flame retardants used, the application method and whether the paper is removable and reusable.

Materials

You can go down the rabbit hole researching the details of variation among the many types of wallpapers. To start, you can choose from paper, non-woven, fabric, grasscloth, flocked, metallic, jute, hemp, wood veneer, mylar, and even fiberglass. But not all of these are considered eco-friendly.

Paper wallpapers are among the easiest to make in an eco-friendly version. Look for organic and recycled content papers and papers that are sourced from sustainably managed forests. Some are certified by third party organizations like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).  

Grasscloth papers made from natural fibers including hemp, jute, reed, or arrowroot are often considered eco-friendly. Hemp and bamboo are considered quite renewable because they grow quickly and are ready for harvest in a short time without fertilizers or pesticides.

It can be difficult to determine if non-woven and fabric wallpapers are eco-friendly if they aren’t marked as such by the manufacturer. Non-woven papers can contain a mixture of natural and synthetic fibers (often cellulose and petroleum-derived polyester) unless otherwise noted. The textile part of fabric wallpaper like cotton, silk, raffia, and linens vary widely in their eco-friendliness depending on pesticides, fertilizer, and other practices needed to grow them. They’re sometimes laminated onto regular wallpaper. Both non-woven and fabric types can sometimes be coated with VOC-emitting vinyl or acrylic.

Flocked, metallic, wood veneer, mylar, and fiberglass are much less likely to be made with eco-friendly materials although you might find exceptions.

Coatings and Flame Retardants

In most cases, there aren’t eco-friendly coatings available so choose uncoated wallpapers when possible. PVC is by far the most common coating and it is known to off-gas VOCs. In addition to contributing to climate change, the health effects of inhaling VOCs include respiratory problems, asthma, eye irritation, and even liver disease. To avoid poor air quality in your home, look for wallpapers that don’t contain PVC. Wallpapers labeled with the Greenguard certification are guaranteed to contain low levels to no VOCs.

Fabric wallpapers are often laminated to a wallpaper using a PVC or acrylic-based coating. Non-woven wallpapers can sometimes be coated with vinyl or acrylic.

The brominated flame retardants that are most commonly used on wallpapers are chemicals known to cause adverse health effects in humans and wildlife. Although flame retardants can help slow the spread of fire and are often required in commercial settings, they’re not required in most residential residences.

Thankfully, “intumescent” flame retardants are being developed that are less toxic and more eco-friendly. But they have yet to be used widely in the wallpaper industry. Clay is the one coating that is generally eco-friendly. It’s naturally derived from soil, acting as a filler making the surface smoother.

Application Method: Peel and Stick, Pre-Pasted or Unpasted

Hanging wallpaper can be a challenge so manufacturers are trying to make it easier for the consumer. Peel and stick is generally the easiest to install without professional help. They are generally removable simply by starting from one corner and peeling slowly inward. But some require wetting before removal.

Unpasted is traditional, requiring that you either paste the wall before application or that you paste the paper. Some come pre-pasted so that you only need to wet the paper before hanging. But it is often difficult to determine what chemicals are used on pre-pasted papers so you may need to contact a retailer to find out.

In general, unpasted is often the most eco-friendly option when you’ve considered the other factors.

Removable or Permanent

Removing old wallpaper can be quite difficult so many wallpapers today are made to be removable, either while dry or after wetting with water or other wallpaper remover. Peel and stick wallpapers are made to be removable, although some even claim to be reusable. Other wallpapers can be made more permanent depending on the paste used to attach them.

Inks

These days most of the printing industry uses solvent-based inks made of pigments mixed in a liquid base of solvents. It’s best to avoid solvents because they’re widely known to emit VOCs that are carcinogens, reproductive hazards, and neurotoxins. When possible, choose water-based inks and vegetable dyes as they are the most eco-friendly options.

Paste

There’s a wide variety of adhesives to choose from when hanging wallpaper. You’ll also want to make sure you use a non-toxic paste, also referred to as glue or adhesive.

The company that manufactured the wallpaper will often recommend an appropriate paste, but they might only recommend the paste they sell. When possible, choose a wallpaper that can be applied using the least toxic cellulose or starch paste.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is eco-friendly wallpaper durable?

    When cared for, a high-quality wallpaper that is professionally installed can easily last 15 years or more. This makes wallpaper a good choice for people who don’t plan to make design changes very often. But it can also peel and tear and require repair.

    Many eco-friendly wallpapers are not coated with a protective coating, so they may not hold up to direct spray with water the way a vinyl plastic wallpaper will. But they breathe better so may ripple and peel less often.

    Natural vegetable dyes can also be more impacted by direct sunlight exposure.

  • What is the most eco-friendly wallpaper glue?

    The most eco-friendly wallcovering adhesives are cellulose-, wheat- and clay-based (including starches). Avoid vinyl adhesives that contain synthetic chemicals including higher levels of VOCs compared to the other types of adhesives.

    Also beware of adhesives that contain high concentrations of biocides. Most contain some chemical. Avoid triclosan when possible.

    Pasted-wallpapers, on the other hand, already have an adhesive on the back of the wallpaper and the adhesive can be activated with water.  Unless indicated by the manufacturer, it is often hard to know what type of adhesive is used beyond knowing it’s eco-friendly. You might need to contact the manufacturer to find out.

  • Is wallpaper better for indoor air quality than paint?

    The answer is: it depends. Low and zero VOC paints are coming to the market. But its also possible to use PVC-free wallpapers and pastes with water-based inks. So either choice can help improve your indoor air quality over oil-based paints and vinyl wall coverings.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Lorraine Wilde has years of experience as a Do-It-Yourself home redecorator. Despite occasional frustrations, she loves the feeling you get when you’ve just completed a new project successfully. She’s removed a lot of wallpaper from a home built in 1928 and painted over a lot in a home built in the 1970s. This summer she plans to hang eco-friendly polar bear wallpaper from Spoonflower in her newly remodeled bathroom.

When conducting her research for this article, Lorraine considered the materials used, customer reviews, and company ethics and sustainability. Lorraine also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science with an emphasis on toxicology. She is a firm believer that consumers can make informed choices that protect themselves, their families and the planet.

View Article Sources
  1. Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality.” United States Environmental Protection Agency.  

  2. Brominated Flame Retardants.” United States Environmental Protection Agency.  

  3. S. Fu, et al. Thermal and flame retardancy properties of thermoplastics/natural fiber biocomposites.” Advanced High Strength Natural Fibre Composites in Construction.