Paint or wallpaper: Which is better for home decor?


Fact Box

  • The history of wallpaper goes back to China in the year 150 B.C. when a court official named Tsai Lun created the first paper out of various fibrous materials. Almost immediately afterward, people began decorating the paper and hanging it on their walls. 
  • House paint is composed of four essential elements: pigments, resins, solvents, and additives. “Pigment is the color, the resin is the binder or glue, and the solvent is the carrier that makes it all liquid and evaporates as the paint dries. Additives also provide specific performance characteristics, such as stain-blocking or mold-killing properties.”
  • William Morris, a founder of the British Arts & Crafts movement, designed “fifty different block-printed wallpapers, all with intricate, stylized patterns based on nature, particularly upon the native flowers and plants of Britain.” These designs then went on to significantly influence the Art Nouveau movement in America and Europe.  
  • According to paint retailer Benjamin Moore, the most popular paint colors are “gray, beige, white, earth tones and other neutrals.”

Andrew (Wallpaper)

Wallpaper is much more durable than paint, often lasting up to 15 years. During the same amount of time, a homeowner may have to touch-up their home several times to repair the various marks that paint can't stand up to. A good quality, thick wallpaper withstands knicks and scratches and survives everyday wear-and-tear. Wallpaper can also typically wipe clean if something is spilled on it, whereas paint is more likely to absorb stains. There are many different kinds of wallpaper to meet specific demands, such as vinyl, vinyl-coated, non-woven, printed, relief, pre-pasted, grasscloth, and non-traditional. 

Wallpaper is great at covering up imperfections in walls such as dents, small holes, or uneven spots, and is a practical option for older homes, where a homeowner might not want to replaster and repair trouble spots. Additionally, wallpaper can be used on cinderblocks, bricks, or virtually any textured wall material to make them look smooth, something that paint simply cannot do. 

Wallpaper comes in a nearly endless variety of colors, patterns, and styles. By choosing to use wallpaper, homeowners can access an enormous collection of designs that are not available with paint, which is extremely helpful when decorating a home. For example, one might choose a rich, dark pattern to make a large room feel cozier, or a bright light pattern to make a small room feel larger. 

Whether chosen for its durability and longevity, or its vast color, texture, and pattern options, wallpaper is superior to paint and a great addition to any home.  

Dante (Paint)

If you have ever dealt with the struggles of replacing damaged wallpaper, some experts say it can be a 'tedious task that requires patience and the right tools to be effective.' 

It is simpler and more economical to have painted walls for various reasons. If you hire mediocre paperhangers and they install wallpaper slightly off, the end result could be disastrous. Wallpaper is also very difficult to replace without redoing entire areas of a wall. Also, some decorating experts suggest applying a coat of paint underneath certain types of wallpaper for best results, which makes for double the work, and begs the question: Why not just paint the wall and leave it at that?  

Further, wallpaper designs go in and out of style every few years. Wallpapering an entire house and redoing it later because it looks tacky is cumbersome and unreasonable, when you could have just painted the walls a neutral color in the first place. Even if you use a popular wallpaper pattern, chances are high that it will eventually go out of style at some point. 

It's much easier to repair painted walls than it is to repair wallpaper. Decorators warn that sometimes color changes occur on newly printed wallpaper, which makes for matching up a new and old section nearly impossible. Paint colors do not vary as much, as they are mixed to exact specifications, so repairing a damaged section is as easy as buying a new can of paint. 

Cleaning wallpaper can also be an issue, as decorators point out that wallpaper's washability is 'limited.' Additionally, wallpaper can stain, or even peel if applied in a moist environment. A painted wall is mostly waterproof, and cleaning it with a wet rag will not cause damage. 

Additionally, paint is much more inexpensive than wallpaper and can also be applied by amateurs to cut costs, making it the smarter choice for decorating your home.

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