Surface Printing from 1898 to Today

Many of our collections are the direct result of a surface printing method that's been used since the 19th century. Manufactured right here at York Wallcoverings, this lofted ink process mimics a hand-painted style making each pattern a unique piece of artwork for your walls. Read on to find out just how detailed and historic this printing process is.

Our surface printer was built in 1898 and continues to manufacture beautifully detailed patterns to this day. Surface printing reproduces a stencil-like effect through the use of print cylinders. The ink is applied to the raised portion of the cylinder and acts as a stamp transferring the color onto the paper. The paper is hung from drying racks that slowly make their way down the line in preparation for the next print roller design to complete the pattern. A new roller is required for each color of the design, and a three person operation is key to ensuring quality control, as well as safety during this process. From adding the inks to making sure the machine is always running its best; the Printer, Ground Operator and Reeler are a team as finely tuned as the machine they work on.

A timeless image of two hard working York employees working the oldest surface print machine in the United States.

A Mirror Image: The below image features two gentlemen who keep the presses running smoothly, operating the surface printer with a sharp eye and top notch mechanical expertise. Luke (left) and Scott (right) each have over 35 years experience working in surface print here at York Wallcoverings.

luke and scott working on surface print machine

York Wallcoverings employees engrave print rollers by hand. This meticulous art would continue until the late 1990's. Today, we currently house over 8,000 print rollers.


Each stage of this process has character and quality craftsmanship that's second to none. From the inks to the changing of the rollers to the drying and reeling process; our surface printing expertise provides a beautiful product with lasting style.

leaf and vine

A closer look at the finished product: "Leaf & Vine".


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