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Wallpaper vs paint - which one should you choose?

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Alex, Staff Writer

Monday, 22 February 2021

If you're looking to transform the look of your property, then maybe it's time to redecorate. From removing dated designs to giving the place a new lease of life, painting and decorating is something that all properties need every once in a while.

But when it comes to what you cover your walls with, the two options you have at your disposal are wallpaper or paint. Both have their own advantages and drawbacks, so before you settle on a new look, let's take a look at which option would work best for you.


You can purchase wallpaper in practically any kind of pattern or print which can add a beautiful focal point to the room. Wallpaper is most commonly used in living rooms and bedrooms, though can be added to any area of the home so long as it’s well ventilated. For example, it can be used to create a feature wall or to cover a chimney breast. 

If your wall has some imperfections in it, then wallpaper can help to disguise it, since you can purchase wallpaper in a variety of thicknesses. This can help you save on the cost of replastering, especially if the damage is only cosmetic. Such wallpaper types are usually also paintable, allowing you to get the best of both worlds.

The cost of wallpaper is more expensive than paint. However, wallpaper generally has a much longer lifespan. Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to keep a spare roll of wallpaper, since repairing it is not as easy as with paint. Wallpaper is also considered warmer versus paint, especially if you use an insulating variety. 

Wallpaper pros

  • Available in a variety of colours, prints and textures

  • Adds a stylish touch to the room

  • Gives an effect than cannot be achieved using paint

  • Covers the wall space quickly

  • Doesn’t require several coats

  • Some wallpaper types are also paintable 

Wallpaper cons

  • Not suitable for all rooms (i.e kitchens and bathrooms)

  • You need to measure up to purchase the correct number of rolls

  • Can be difficult to patch up if the paper gets torn or damaged

  • Not as easy to wipe clean as paint

  • Usually more expensive, especially if using a designer brand

  • Takes skill to apply correctly


By far the biggest advantage of paint is that it’s available in every colour known to man. So instead of choosing a wallpaper that someone else has designed, you get more of a say over the exact colours that will go into the room. This can be hugely beneficial if you’re trying to match your new decor to existing furniture, or simply the colours in the rest of your home.

Paint can be applied to practically any surface inside or outside of your property. Though, the prep work is more arduous since it may involve sanding down the existing surface. You’ll also have to take care to cover everything too as paint can ruin anything it gets onto. That’s why it’s recommended to paint before installing carpets or soft furnishings.

After a certain time, your paint may require an additional coat to keep it looking fresh. Though, the ability to paint over an existing coat means if it gets stained or chipped, it’s easier to fix. Some paint brands are also washable which is ideal if you have children or pets in the home.  

Paint pros

  • An endless array of colours to choose from

  • Different finishes including matte, gloss and satin

  • Can be fun to experiment with different colours

  • Gives a smooth appearance to the wall

  • Easy to patch up especially if you keep an old tin

  • Tins of paint are cheap to buy

Paint cons

  • The surface may need plastering or sanding down to ensure a neat application

  • Darker colours are not easy to paint over

  • Can be a messy job

  • Paint is not as insulating as wallpaper

  • Paint colours are often subject to trends

  • Different tools are needed to reach all angles

To sum up

Both paint and wallpaper can give a beautiful finish to the look of your walls. If you’re struggling to decide, you can even combine both since wallpaper and paint can be used interchangeably. Be sure to pick up plenty of wallpaper and paint samples, which will help you make the right decision for your particular property and personal style. A painter and decorator can also point you in the right direction, whilst ensuring your paint or wallpaper are applied to a professional standard. 

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