The National Sanitation Foundation, or NSF, strives to create standards that make the production and purchase of different aspects of various industries predictable, including wallcovering. The NSF/ANSI 324: Sustainability Assessment for Wallcovering creates the standards by which manufacturers must gauge their products to sell them with certain labeling. It is not required to get certification to show that products meet these minimum standards, but some companies will not purchase wallcoveirng without certification.
ANSI 342 is actually a fairly recent standard. The sustainability assessment was first posted in 2009, less than a decade ago. Prior to this, there was no standard, making it difficult to know how the different wallcoverings were comparable. Even the wallcoverings by a single manufacturer could be significantly different both in terms of durability and sustainability, which often meant the only way to know if the rooms would have the same sustainability was to use the same wallcovering in every room of your home. If you picked something that was not very sustainable, you would have to redo all of the rooms.
In 2009 the standard was created, and in 2010 the first publication was printed to establish a standard that would let manufacturers know what constituted the different types that were established. Having clearly defined materials and durability doesn’t just benefit customers. With the set standards, companies are better able to compare their work to see if they at least meet the minimum requirements and how to label their products. It also makes it easier to determine what materials will be best for a particular product. And if the product does not meet the requirements for one of the stronger types, it may still be sold as meeting the standards of a lower classification.
A couple of other common problems were with the life cycle of the paper and how durable it was against different conditions (particularly moisture issues). The NSF included requirements for each of the different types, the necessary tests, and corresponding durability that the wallcovering must meet to qualify for the different types.