Whether to use wallpaper in the kitchen is a debated topic among interior designers and homeowners. Some see wallpaper as impractical for kitchens due to concerns about moisture, grease stains, and durability. However, when properly selected and cared for, wallpaper can be a stylish, personalizing touch that transforms an ordinary kitchen into a showstopper. Here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of using wallpaper in the kitchen along with tips for selecting the best options if you decide to take the plunge.

An Overview of Using Wallpaper in Kitchens

Wallpaper has long been a popular choice for adding color, texture, and visual interest to many rooms of the home. However, the kitchen was often seen as off-limits for wallpaper due to its reputation as a high-moisture, high-activity space prone to splatters and spills. The thinking was that wallpaper would quickly succumb to grease stains, moisture damage, and wear and tear in a busy kitchen environment.

While it’s true that the kitchen presents some unique challenges, improvements in wallpaper technology and design have made many carefully chosen papers appropriate for kitchen use. When properly installed and cared for, today’s kitchen wallpapers can offer striking style and stand up well to the demands of a busy cooking space.

So should you consider wallpaper for your kitchen? Let’s delve into the pros and cons.

The Potential Benefits of Using Wallpaper in the Kitchen

Adds Style, Color, and Personality

Wallpaper offers limitless possibilities for adding eye-catching style to your kitchen. From modern graphic prints to classic florals and everything in between, wallpaper is an easy way to incorporate color, texture, and pattern into the heart of your home. Kitchen wallpaper can reflect your personal taste and give the room a unique, signature look.

Conceals Flaws

The kitchen is prone to common wall flaws like bumps, cracks, uneven textures, and previous holes and markings from old hardware or decor. Many wallpapers can disguise these imperfections better than paint. Wallpaper offers a budget-friendly alternative to resurfacing walls.

Easier to Change than Paint

While durable options are available, wallpaper is generally easier to swap out and update down the road than paint. Changing your kitchen wallpaper allows you to give the space a fresh new look with less mess and labor than repainting.

Adds Dimension with Texture

From glossyGraphics to flocked papers that mimic fabric to options with raised inks and textures, wallpaper offers tons of choices for adding tactile dimension and visual depth to kitchen walls.

Insulates for Sound Dampening

Some wallpapers provide sound dampening qualities by insulating walls from noise. This can cut down on clanging pots and appliances echoing in an open kitchen.

Factors to Consider Before Using Wallpaper in the Kitchen

Moisture Resistance

Kitchens inherently come with moisture risks from cooking splatters, steam, and running sinks. Most wallpapers today are designed with some level of water-resistance. Look for options marketed as washable, scrubbable, or strippable. Washable papers have protective coatings that allow stains to be gently cleaned off. Scrubbable papers can withstand occasional deeper scrubbing. Strippable papers can be easily removed when redecorating. Avoid uncoated papers prone to water damage.

Grease and Stain Resistance

Kitchen wallpaper should be grease-resistant or have coatings to repel oil. Vinyl-coated and pre-pasted papers tend to resist grease and food stains best. Stay away from uncoated, delicate papers that can absorb greasy kitchen residue.


No wallpaper is totally impervious to kitchen messes. Opt for kitchen wallpaper designs with less intricate detail, as busy patterns with crevices can trap grime that’s tough to clean. Solid color or tone-on-tone papers are easiest to keep looking clean. Prioritize washable and scrubbable options. Be prepared to promptly wipe up spills and splatters before they have time to soak in and stain.


Kitchen wallpaper needs to stand up to bumps, nicks, and some degree of wear and tear. Vinyl, vellum, and acrylic-coated papers tend to be quite durable. Avoid easily torn papers. Select thick, textured options over flimsy papers.

Best Practices for Installing Wallpaper in the Kitchen

Proper installation is key to wallpaper success in a kitchen. Follow these best practices:

  • Prepare walls by repairing flaws, removing glossy paint, and priming with an adhesive primer. This allows the paper to properly adhere.
  • Opt for mold/mildew-resistant adhesive made for kitchens and bathrooms. Follow all adhesive instructions carefully.
  • Smooth the wallpaper onto the wall using a plastic smoother to eliminate bubbles or creases that can prematurely wear the paper.
  • Use a wallpaper primer/sealer after installation according to the manufacturer’s directions. This gives added protection.
  • For backsplashes prone to moisture exposure behind sinks or ranges, choose a tile-look vinyl wallpaper or use waterproof vinyl wallpaper primer prior to installation.

Wallpaper Maintenance Tips for Kitchens

Once installed, properly caring for kitchen wallpaper is essential to extending its life. Here are some tips:

  • Gently wipe spills as soon as possible using a clean, mildly soapy damp sponge or cloth. Don’t let stains set.
  • For tougher grease spots, very gently apply a degreasing cleaner specifically made for wallpaper. Test in an inconspicuous spot first.
  • Use painters tape to hang kitchen towels or decor to avoid pulling off wallpaper.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads which can damage wallpaper coatings.
  • Refresh wallpaper appearance every 1-2 years with a gentle wallpaper cleaner and resealing if needed per manufacturer instructions.

Choosing the Best Wallpaper for Your Kitchen

With the right selection and care, wallpaper can survive and even thrive in the kitchen. Some top options to consider include:

  • Vinyl: Vinyl wallpapers resist moisture, grease, and stains. Modern vinyl options mimic other materials like textured grasscloth or perforated metals.
  • Acrylic-Coated: Acrylic coatings make wallpapers durable and scrubbable. Acrylic papers clean easily.
  • Paper-Backed Textiles: These add textile texture but are coated with protective finishes. Options like flocked or embossed velvets perform better than unprotected fabrics.
  • Pre-pasted Wallpapers: Pre-pasted papers have adhesives built in for easy application. Many are vinyl-coated for kitchen durability.
  • Solid Patterns: Busy prints show every splash and stain. Opt instead for solid colors or subtle tone-on-tone patterns like zigzags and geometrics.

Steer clear of uncoated delicate papers like grasscloth or foil wallpapers which won’t withstand kitchen demands. Avoid heavily patterned damasks or floral papers as they show grime in crevices.

Key Takeaways on Wallpaper in the Kitchen

  • Modern wallpaper options make it possible to use wallpaper successfully even in moisture-prone busy kitchens.
  • Look for wallpapers marketed as washable, strippable, scrub-resistant, and stain-proof. Vinyl, acrylic, or fabric-backed papers hold up best.
  • Proper prep, installation, sealing, and maintenance are key to minimizing damage or stains.
  • Solid colors, tone-on-tone patterns, and less intricate prints disguise wear best. Avoid delicate uncoated papers.
  • Wallpaper allows you to easily add an influx of color, texture, and personalized style to your kitchen.

With the right wallpaper choice and careful use and cleaning, wallpaper can be a fantastic and unique addition to a kitchen rather than being off-limits. Take time to find an option suited for high-traffic areas that also perfectly fits your personal taste and kitchen style. Follow best practices for installation and maintenance. With the right prep work and care, you can enjoy wallpaper that withstands your busy kitchen while adding a punch of style.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wallpaper in the Kitchen

Is wallpaper practical in the kitchen?

With moisture-resistant and easily cleanable options now available, wallpaper can definitely be practical in the kitchen when properly selected. Features like vinyl coatings help kitchen wallpaper withstand splatters, steam, grease, and routine cleaning. While no paper is totally invincible, many are designed for kitchen use.

What’s the most durable wallpaper for a kitchen?

Washable, scrubbable vinyl-coated wallpapers are your most durable and water-resistant option for thekitchen. Vinyl stands up to cleaning and moisture well. Some solid sheet vinyl options offer seamlessinstallation. Also look for acrylic-coated wallpapers. Avoid uncoated, delicate papers.

Should you avoid patterned wallpaper in the kitchen?

Busy, intricate wallpaper patterns can show dirt and stains more easily in a messy kitchen. Less detailedpatterns like tone-on-tone textures or solid hues hide wear best. That said, many modern printed papershold up remarkably well with occasional careful cleaning. Ultimately opt for washable finishes overdelicate patterns.

Can wallpaper go behind a stove or sink?

It’s best to avoid wallpaper directly behind sinks and stoves where it will be subjected to excessivemoisture or grease. Use a tile-look vinyl wallpaper or waterproof paintable wallpaper primer in thesehigh-splatter areas. Elsewhere in the kitchen is fine for properly prepped vinyl wallpaper.

Does wallpaper make a kitchen look dated?

Not necessarily – it’s all about choosing the right style. While very ornate papers can seem oldschool,many modern graphic or nature-inspired prints feel fresh and current. Stay away from large florals.Solid colored texture wallpapers also keep kitchen wallpaper looking updated.


Wallpaper can make an excellent addition to a kitchen with proper selection, installation, and maintenance. The key is choosing moisture, stain, and grease-resistant papers with durable finishes. Opt for scrubbable vinyls, acrylic coatings, pre-pasted papers, or textured flocks – avoid uncoated delicate papers prone to water damage and stains. Follow all preparation and wallpapering best practices. With the right choice and care, your kitchen wallpaper can introduce striking style, dimension, and color without being high-maintenance. Just be sure to address any moisture or grease hazards near sinks and stoves. Modern kitchen wallpaper designs make it easier than ever to enjoy stylish, durable walls that stand up to the hustle and bustle of daily cooking.