Wallpaper vs Paint (Comparison & Design Guide)

Here’s our wallpaper vs paint comparison guide for style, durability, lifespan, cost, ease of installation and which is best for your interior design. Wallpaper vs paint

One of the greatest joys of owning a home is being able to do it up or update and redesign it according to your own tastes and preferences. There’s a special kind of satisfaction that can be derived from adding a touch of your own taste to your favorite personal spaces.

The main challenge to redesigning the home though is that there is the constant struggle surrounding aesthetics, durability, its maintenance, as well as its pricing. This is where deciding between using wallpaper or paint.

Wallpaper vs Paint Design

Striped wallpaper in living room with yellow arm chairs

Design variety is everything for as far as updating the home is concerned and this is a decision you constantly need to go back and forth on when deciding between using wallpaper or paint. Here are some things to consider:

Wallpaper: This material offers a wide variety ranging from various geometric patterns to strips to flowers, or even to stenciled designs.

Wallpaper appeals to the imagination and creativity of someone planning to redesign their home in particular. It has a more flamboyant feel to it.

You can depict entire scenes and paint an entire story on your walls with wallpaper. You can have a garden scene or project a sunrise scene, the beach, or literally anything you can possibly conjure up.

Children’s rooms can have whimsical designs such as cartoon characters, cartoon characters, and so much more. [Source: nps.gov History of Wallpaper Styles and Their Use]

Wallpaper vs paint

Paint: Painting, on the other hand, can cover up a lot of imperfections on the walls. Color blocking and textures can also be played up a lot when you go for painting options. Paint works well when painting the ceiling to match the walls or add a contrasting shade.

With the right kind of primer and finishing combination, you can come up with really interesting wall designs.

This particularly works well for bright and vibrant colors and can really set the mood up depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Wallpaper vs Paint Durability

Light gray painted walls

Both wallpapers and paint can offer a wide variety in designs and colors. Your overall lifestyle and home vibe can be tremendously improved with the right choices. In terms of durability though, each option comes with its own set of merits.

Wallpaper: This material can turn out to be very durable and works extremely well for children’s spaces in particular. A lot of wallpaper varieties can withstand a lot of wear and tear so it can be perfect for areas in the home that hold up a lot of activity and foot traffic.

The prime grade wallpaper varieties can also hold up to a lot of scrubbing and cleaning. You just have to take note though that wallpaper is applied with a layer of adhesives.

This means that this might not be great to use in areas that are prone to moisture such as bathrooms or kitchens as they can end up easily being peeled away from the wall.

Paint: Painting a wall offers an inexpensive way to upgrade the space and makes for easier application.

The high gloss and semi-gloss varieties can be extremely durable and are actually highly recommended for trims, doors, and so on.

The satin, flat sheen, and eggshell finishes are recommended for the interior walls. Read more about the best paint finish for a living room here.

A downside to paint though is that when the walls undergo some level of damage such as scrapes and bumps, paint has the tendency to chip and might require repainting jobs in order to get it repaired.

How Long Does Wallpaper Last

Traditional room with patterned wallpaper grey velvet couch

Wallpaper can last for up to 15 years with the proper type of care. It can even go beyond that at times.

The trick here is to know your wallpapers and wallpaper adhesives. There’s a right way to remove each type of adhesive. -William McElroy. Painter’s Handbook. United States: Craftsman, 1987.

This makes it cost efficient and makes it a durable option to go ahead and decorate certain rooms in the house. It has been noted that wallpaper can actually last 3 times longer than a regular paint job.

How Long Does Paint Last

Room with green interior paint large yellow sectional sofa

The lifespan of paint being able to stay on walls and still retain its aesthetics varies depending on the type of paint that’s being used in the first place.

The long and short answer is that all types of paint jobs can go bad after a certain amount of time. Here’s a chart that can guide you if you’re planning on redesigning your home.

Latex paint: This has a lifespan ranging from 2 – 10 years.

Acrylic paint: This has a lifespan ranging from 2 – 15 years.

Chalk paint: This has a lifespan ranging from 1 – 5 years.

Premixed milk paint in liquid form: This has a lifespan ranging from 1 – 2 years.

Premixed milk paint in powder form: This has a lifespan ranging from 1 – 2 years.

Is Wallpapering Or Painting Easier?

Wallpaper: Attaching some wallpaper in your home is an extremely skilled job. You need to be careful when it comes to getting cheap labor or hiring unskilled laborers as they might not stick well on your walls, might come out right off the bat, or tear easily.

This is not the type of thing that you can just go ahead and DIY so its application is definitely far more technical than a basic paint job. In terms of time taken though, wallpapering only requires a one-time application and an average sized home can be finished up in a day.

Paint: Painting, on the other hand, is something that you can completely DIY with the right tools and with just the basics. You certainly don’t need any external help if you have the enthusiasm for it.

In the event that you don’t have the time to do it yourself, hiring cheap labor or unskilled labor is alright and it won’t end up burning a hole through your finances.

It does, however, take a while to dry up completely. A great paint job will require about 2 to 3 coats of paint. This means that it might take up several days or even weeks to dry up.

Paint Compared to Wallpaper Cost

Modern room with geometric design wall paper

Wallpaper: Although the costs might vary greatly depending on the quality of the wallpaper you have chosen, by and large, it will always end up being costlier than paint.

There are other types of wallpaper materials though that may cost less than the others so you can definitely way your options out. In the long run though, wallpaper has the tendency to last longer than paint so despite of the fact that it costs more initially, it can end up costing less in the long run.

Paint: Paint is something that costs less on the front end. The number of supplies required is pretty simple and minimal as opposed to wallpaper that will require adhesives, special tools, along with the main wallpaper material.

What Rooms To Use for Wallpaper Compared to Paint


• Bedroom

• Nursery

Living room

• Dining room

• Home office


• Areas prone to mold, moisture, and humidity

• Exteriors of the home

• Bathroom

• Trimmings on windows

• Kitchen

• Laundry room

Wallpaper: Wallpaper is making a huge comeback in the home designing world, and with pretty good reason. It can be a bit scary to go for this option if you’re a bit fickle with the design options as you would have to tear it all down and start from scratch if you change your mind.

Then again, it can really make quite an impact in the room you are trying to redesign. Wallpaper can be great for the following spaces in the house:

Bedroom with forest style wallpaper

Bedroom: It can add in a visually striking effect to the room without taking over the entire design of the bedroom. It can showcase the bed and really create a focal point out of it and it can really draw you into the space overall.

Baby nursery with clouds wallpaper

Nursery: Wallpaper can really make your nursery walls pop. You can go for an earthy feel or go for more whimsical designs. Whatever your preferences may be, wallpaper can really make it happen for you.

Nurseries are usually pretty small spaces and painting it all over with just one color can make it even smaller. Wallpapering allows you to add separate accents per wall, maximizing the look and feel of the space all throughout.

Room with striped wallpaper

Living room: Wallpapering the living room allows you to put in patterns and meld well with the other elements in the space such as the coach, a coffee table, some lamps, chairs, etc.

You can have little to no décor in order to make a big impact on the space you’re trying to design.

Dining room and home office: These spaces can really benefit a lot from a little bit of personalization and this is what makes wallpaper extremely fun. It can completely transform these rooms in the house without having to shell out a lot of money for expensive art pieces.

Paint: Paint is great for areas that are prone to mold, moisture and humidity. This makes it perfect for the exteriors of the home or for areas that tend to get wet and messy all the time such as the bathroom, the trimmings on the windows, the kitchen, and the laundry room.

Does Wallpaper Ruin Walls?

Wallpaper removal can be a huge hassle. Removing existing wallpaper might end up causing damage to the walls if not done correctly. You are going to need the right tools and chemicals in order to get it done right.

Humidity and moisture also have the tendency of getting trapped in between the layers of wallpaper plastered to your wall. So the answer to this is that yes, with improper processes, it can end up ruining your walls.

Which Is Better Wallpaper Or Paint?

Wallpaper lasts way longer than paint. This means that this can dramatically reduce any additional costs in the future. If you are looking to get the most out of your money’s worth, wallpaper will turn out to be the obvious choice. On the other hand, there are also some merits to using paint.

Paint is cheaper on the budget and easier to apply than wallpaper. It is easy to wipe up or paint over it if accidents do happen to occur. Also, in the event that you want to change your mind with the design, you can easily just paint over it.

In terms of longevity and long term cost, wallpaper is the way to go. In terms of design and front end cost, paint is the easily obvious choice.

For more similar content visit our page about the best living room paint colors.

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