AdvicePainting and decorating

Wallpaper vs paint

Changing wall coverings is a quick and easy way to update a room. Whether you choose paint, wallpaper or a combination of the two there are a number of things you should consider.

Location

Bathrooms and cloakrooms are apt for creativity. If there’s a colour or a print that you love but are too afraid to use in a bigger room, the downstairs loo or a bathroom wall is the perfect location for a splurge of colour or a bonkers wallpaper pattern.

Modern wallpaper is relatively durable, but tends to peel in humid rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. You can replace damaged sections but it can be difficult to get a good match even if you have extra rolls from the original batch, as sunlight will have faded the wallpaper in other areas. In many cases, the whole room/wall will need to be re-papered for a flawless finish.

Bathroom with white walls and turquoise cupboard
Orange paint in bathroom

Paint is the better option in rooms with high humidity levels because unlike wallpaper, you can buy paint that can cope with humidity and is mould resistant.

If you do decide to use a wallpaper in a bathroom, it’s best to add a tiled splash-back above the sink to protect it from splashes. A safer option is to tile the lower half of the wall and paper the top half where it is less likely to get splashed. If you do decide to go all out, make sure you don’t paper too close to the bath and bear in mind that you will need to re-decorate every couple of years to keep that high-quality finish.

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Variety

It began with the feature wall, but now fully wallpapered rooms are making a comeback. There are now endless shades, patterns and textures available on the high street. Developments in digital printing have bought down the cost of bespoke designs too, with custom images now available as wallpaper.

Stripes never date and can improve the appearance of a room’s proportions, for example horizontal stripes make a room look wider while vertical stripes make ceilings appear higher.

Dark grey patterned wallpaper in kitchen-diner

If you want to pick the perfect shade then paint is the option for you. Take an item or colour swatch to your local DIY store and many paint brands will custom mix a pot for you.

Designing a colour scheme is easier with paint than wallpaper thanks to paint companies creating ready-to-go colour schemes that take the risk out of creating your own colour palette. One of the main benefits of paint is if you get it wrong, it’s easy enough to paint over your mistake, whereas wallpaper takes a bit more scraping to rectify.

dulus pastel blend paint technique
Source: Stylist’s Own

Durability

Paint can chip easily and will need a touch up every once in a while. In rooms with high moisture levels, use a waterproof paint to prevent damage. A room will generally need to be repainted every 3-5 years, sometimes more frequently in high traffic areas. There are new paints on the market that you allow you to scrub any marks off, so you won’t need to repaint the wall. The downside is the finish – it’s rough and less visually pleasing.

You might not think wallpaper would stand up to the wear-and-tear inflicted by children and pets, but modern wallpaper is durable and easy to clean. However, it’s better suited to rooms such as dining rooms and bedrooms where there is minimal moisture and less footfall as it can be difficult to make running repairs. If you do have pets or small children but want wallpaper, the wipe clean vinyl varieties are your best option.

Monochrome cross wallpaper in playroom

Cost

It’s generally cheaper to paint a room than it is to wallpaper it, but wallpaper tends to have a longer life-span so the costs even out over time. However, if you’re someone who re-decorates every few years the longevity of the wall covering might not be a concern.

Whether you choose wallpaper or paint, you get what you pay for with the cheaper options tending to not stand the test of time.

The opacity of cheap paint is usually on the low side, meaning you might need three coats rather than two coats of a better quality, more opaque paint. Therefore, you’ll have to buy more, meaning the costs often equal that of quality paint. If you’re paying a decorator to do the job for you, you’ll end up paying more for their labour as well. So, choose a quality brand that’ll last longer and create a better finish, too.

Similar to paint, cheap wallpaper is a diseconomy. It’s thin and more prone to damage. In some cases, if your walls aren’t in good enough condition to paint (without being re-plastered), a good quality, thick wallpaper will cover defects in the walls without the cost, hassle and mess of plastering and paint.

Mint green paint in modern bathroom
Dark blue wall in modern kitchen

Choosing between wallpaper and paint will often be influenced by your budget, the room you’re decorating and how often you’re prepared to re-decorate. A combination of paint and wallpaper can provide the best and most creative finish. Whichever option you go for, getting the best result is down to application, don’t cut corners with the preparation and if you’re not a talented DIY-er, call in an expert decorator – there’s nothing worse than wonky paint lines and badly matched wallpaper patterns.

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19 Comments

  1. nks for your article and many tips. I am about to get a few tings done in my home and would like to update my toilet downstairs with its current green loo and corner wash basin. A small area that needs an uplift and I would like a wow factor too, ?any ideas!!??

    1. Hi wallpapered my narrow long bathroom in picture frame paper, looks great and is now a place to put those bits and bobs for a memory wall. Fun rather than sophisticated, but roomy as paper mainly white. Happy decorating. PS my friend bought foreign language newspaper and completely covered every wall brave but has impact.

  2. Hello,
    Thanks for the information.
    I want a wallpaper on a wall in my living room where there is this problem of leakage during the monsoons.
    Could you please let me know if there are any wall papers available which could resist to the leakage. Are there any waterproof wall papers available?

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for the information.
    I want a wallpaper on a wall in my living room where there is this problem of leakage during the monsoons.
    Could you please let me know if there are any wall papers available which could resist to the leakage. Are there any waterproof wall papers available?

  4. Hello,
    Thanks for the information.
    I want a wallpaper on a wall in my bedroom where there is this problem of leakage during the monsoons.
    Could you please let me know if there are any wall papers available which could resist to the leakage. Are there any waterproof wall papers available?
    Deepanjali Decor give me wallpaper waterproof just Rs 500/-
    Reply

  5. Superb article and I would really like to thank for your article it’s really helpful. Regards

  6. Such a nice and Superb article, we have been looking for this information and here we are really like to thank for your superb article & really its much helpful and appreciate your work. Thanks & Regards Painting services in dubai

  7. Paint is more durable than wallpaper almost 10 years, in my house there is 1 bucket is of Rs.11000 of Asian Paints and total 6 buckets are used and gives shiny surface to the wall and after 6 years it is as like before.

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