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wallpaper vs. paint

Paint vs. Wallpaper

Read our comparison of wallpaper and paint and see which works best for your room!

Are you planning to update your walls but aren't sure whether to paint or wallpaper? Below you'll find advantages and disadvantages of each option as we discuss cost, selection, durability, installation, and use in rentals.

It is also important to keep in mind that you don't have to pick one or the other. Many well-designed spaces incorporate both paint and wallpaper into their designs. If you are looking to do a feature wall, consider painting your walls and creating one focal wall with a stunning wallpaper design. Checkout some feature wall ideas here.

If you want a very specific color, or would like the option to change colors in the future, you may want to consider paintable wallpaper. With raised details and a myriad of texture effects and designs to choose from, it's the best of both worlds. You can browse hundreds of paintable wallpapers here.

wallpaper cost vs. paint cost

Wallpaper Costs

In general, the upfront costs of wallpaper and installation materials can be more expensive than paint. Today however, wallpaper comes in a variety of types and materials, allowing more cost-effective wallpaper designs to be manufactured. Depending on your budget, durability needs, and application method you can find stylish wallpapers in your budget.

Looking for cost effective wallpaper? Check out our Brewster Essentials for $24.99 a roll!

Paint Costs

Paint tends to have less upfront costs for both paint and supplies. Depending on the type and finish you need will affect the price of your paint. There are plenty of low cost options for paint if cost is a concern.

Although paint can be lower cost upfront, it does need to be touched up over time, especially in high traffic areas in your home.

Wallpaper Pros

  • Large selection of affordable wallpapers

Wallpaper Cons

  • Can be more expensive upfront

Paint Pros

  • Less upfront costs for paint and supplies

Paint Cons

  • Will need to touch up over time
wallpaper selection vs. paint selection

Wallpaper Selection

Wallpaper comes in a dazzling array of designs and colors, with an incredible selection of beautiful effects like pearlescent finish, glitter, raised inks, suede, gels, beads, foils and metallics, embossed silk textures, and natural grasscloth, just to name a few.

If you are looking for an impressive room or feature wall, you might want to consider designer prints that bring rich colors and textures into a room.

Paint Selection

The range of paint colors is nearly limitless. In addition, it is easy to repaint if you want a new color. However, paint has a limited number of finishes within matte to glossy.

If you are looking to create a feature wall, there are some great methods and ideas to do so with paint. However, if you are looking for intricate patterns or bold geometrics on your wall, wallpaper would be an easier alternative.

Wallpaper Pros

  • Extensive selection of designs, finishes, and styles
  • Metallic, foil, glitter, and pearl effect patterns
  • Textured patterns made with raised inks, flocking, gels, beads, silk, glasscloth, & more
  • Nearly limitless designs including geometric, faux brick and wood, floral, damask, & more
  • Easy to change design if using peel and stick wallpaper or removable wallpaper

Wallpaper Cons

  • More time consuming to change wallpaper design if using traditional wallpaper

Paint Pros

  • Nearly limitless colors available
  • Easy to change paint color
  • Perfect if you want flat, solid colors

Paint Cons

  • Limited selection of finishes
  • Difficult and time consuming or expensive to create intricate designs or patterns with paint
  • No textured options
wallpaper durability vs. paint durability

Wallpaper Durability

Wallpaper can last up to 15 years and beyond, which makes it a cost-effective, durable way to decorate your room. It is generally accepted that properly hung wallpaper will last 3 times as long as paint. Wallpaper is a great way to decorate high traffic areas in your home.

Many wallpapers are also "washable", making them easy to clean and maintain over time. Simply double check the "washability" of wallpapers you are looking at when purchasing.

Wallpaper can lift at the seams over time. Should this happen, the areas that are lifting can be reapplied with a small amount of wallpaper adhesive.

Paint Durability

A painted room will usually last about 10 years. If the room is in a high traffic area in your home, you will need to occasionally do touch ups or repaint over time.

If you need to touch up paint, you will need to ensure that you get the correct color and finish to match your current color, especially if purchasing a new can of paint.

You can also purchase washable paint for areas that are high traffic and that you would want to clean occasionally.

Wallpaper Pros

  • Lasts 15+ years
  • Perfect for high traffic areas in home
  • Many wallpapers are "washable"

Wallpaper Cons

  • Seams might lift and need to be reattached, especially if installed in a damp area

Paint Pros

  • Lasts about 10 years
  • Can purchase "washable" paint
  • Easy to touch up if needed

Paint Cons

  • Paint might need to be touched up, especially in high traffic areas
  • Touch up paint might not match original color
wallpaper installation vs. paint installation

Wallpaper Installation

Wallpaper adheres easily and smoothly to walls, hiding many surface imperfections. This is especially valuable in rooms with damaged walls or older homes. Any larger holes or uneven areas will need to be filled and sanded. Any existing wallpaper will need to be removed before installation.

Instillation can be done by you or a professional. There are a variety of installation methods today that make hanging wallpaper simple and fast! From "paste the paper", "paste the wall", "prepasted" or even "peel and stick" wallpaper, installation has never been easier. Hanging wallpaper still needs to be properly matched when installing.

If you are worried about messy installation, try peel and stick wallpaper! Because it requires no paste, it is easy to install and perfect for a nursery, kids room, and more.

Want to learn more about how to install wallpaper? Read our step by step wallpaper hanging instructions!

Paint Installation

Paint can be applied in any room after the walls have been properly prepared. If your walls have any damage or imperfections, they will need to be filled, spackled and sanded before you paint. It might take a lot of work for walls with lots of damage or imperfections to prepare. Any existing wallpaper will need to be removed and walls primed before painting as well.

Applying paint is straight forward and can move quickly if you have the right tools. One thing to be cautious of is the odor of fresh paint. Make sure your room is well ventilated, especially if painting a nursery or kids room.

In addition, special care must be taken when painting to lay down drop cloths to keep your floors and surfaces paint free.

Wallpaper Pros

  • Variety of wallpapers with easy installation methods including "paste the wall", "paste the paper", "prepasted", and "peel and stick"
  • Can cover damaged or uneven walls with little preparation
  • Can use peel and stick wallpaper if worried about odors and mess
  • Can almost immediately hang art or touch walls

Wallpaper Cons

  • Need to match pattern when installing
  • Can have more of a learning curve than painting
  • Old wallpaper must be removed

Paint Pros

  • Can be faster than wallpapering a room
  • No need to match any pattern

Paint Cons

  • Need to fix any issues on walls before priming and painting
  • Can be messy
  • Some paints have strong odors
  • Paint needs to dry and cure before hanging art or touching walls
  • Old wallpaper must be removed
wallpaper use in rentals vs. paint use in rentals

Wallpaper Use In Rentals

Wallpaper is not only perfect for homes, you can also wallpaper your apartment, dorm, rental, or space that you change the decor in frequently!

With peel and stick removable wallpaper, wallpaper has never been more versatile and completely safe to use in rentals, DIY projects, and more.

Check out our extensive collection of peel and stick wallpapers!

Paint Use In Rentals

Although great for any home, if you are living in an apartment, dorm, or rental, you might not be able to paint your walls.

Wallpaper Pros

  • Use peel & stick wallpaper in a rental, dorm, or room you change frequently
  • Easy to install
  • No sticky residue left behind
  • No damage to walls when removing
  • Personalizes rental to your style

Wallpaper Cons

  • Can't be applied to textured, concrete, unprimed walls, or walls with nonstick paint

Paint Pros

  • Can choose your color if rental allows you to paint

Paint Cons

  • Not all rentals allow you to paint
  • Might need to have color approved before painting, limiting your choices
  • May need to do double the work and paint back to original color before you leave
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