The General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Specification CCD-W-408D is a 15-page document containing the requirements, rescinding of, and reinstatement of federal guidelines pertaining to wallcovering that includes a vinyl coating. You can review a full version of the document if you are interested in seeing a very brief history (the specification was rescinded from 6 September 2001 until 18 December 2003) and if you are interested in going through the details.
However, the following is the basic idea behind the creation of the specification, a condensed history, and what it means for your wallpaper.
The specification focuses on wallcoverings that have a vinyl coat, and discusses the three types and is approved for use by federal agencies. This does mean that the original application was for federal agencies and the buildings where they resided. However, the public is free to access and use the specification for other official buildings. As wallcovering is not often used in homes, it more likely that business and organizations are the primary audience outside of the government.
The specification does provide physical requirements that have been tested, very similar to the way the different wallcovering types are tested today. The primary difference is that the 13 pages of the specification contain a considerable amount of jargon, which makes it difficult for the layman to understand. This is compounded by the fact that it often refers to other specifications and standards (including military standards) that most people have to thoroughly research before they can understand the implications.
What Is It?
The federal specification is essentially the predecessor of ANSI 342. Both are currently in effect and help to create a standard for both government buildings and the private sector. This ensures that contractors working to build or remodel government buildings are able to properly bid on projects and be guaranteed a certain quality of wallcovering.
The ANSI 342 is considerably newer and gives those in the private sector the same guarantee that this specification offers to government agencies. By holding all manufacturers to a set of rules and guidelines, there is greater consistency, making it easier to analyze the product based on whether it is certified.