Wallpaper vs. Paint: Which Is Better for You?

Updated on December 6, 2019
lindacee profile image

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

You can choose a combination of paint and wallpaper.
You can choose a combination of paint and wallpaper. | Source

Before you toss wallpaper aside as an outdated design look, think again. New products, manufacturing techniques and materials have made wallpaper more popular than ever. The new generation of wallpaper is vibrant, dramatic and the darling of interior designers.

Paint is a quick and easy way to transform the look of a room in an afternoon. A fresh coat of paint will revitalize your existing furnishings and detract from a room’s cosmetic flaws. Buy a roller, brush, drop cloth and a gallon of paint, and you’re on the way to instant design gratification.

Before we start, however, it's important to go over the pros and cons for both paint and wallpaper throughout the home. You need to know the advantages and downsides so you can make the decision in each room.

So which will you choose?

Paint

Painting can be a big task. It can be done by yourself or by hiring a pro painter. If you prefer deep, intense paint colors, you may end up priming and painting over a lighter color if you become tired of dark walls after a year or two. You might decide to install wallpaper to give the interior a fresh appearance. However, painting the walls is much easier than installing wallpaper.

Here's how to find out how much paint you'll need. A one-gallon can of paint will cover a small room up to 400 square feet that's similar to a mud room, laundry area or bathroom. Two-gallon cans of paint will cover at least an average size room, up to 800 square feet.

Three-gallon paint cans cover up to 1200 square feet. It's plenty for a single great room or for several normal size rooms like a dining room, den and a bedroom. Don't forget that each gallon also requires a second coat of paint.

If you decide to paint it yourself, it can be a substantial project. Choose a color that is definitely trendy.
If you decide to paint it yourself, it can be a substantial project. Choose a color that is definitely trendy. | Source

Wallpaper

Wallpaper has been around for centuries. Its trending comes and goes throughout the decades. The manufacturers have a huge selection of colors and patterns that creates a new life for your rooms. If you've never installed wallpaper before, it's best to hire a professional, or your room will look terrible. Wallpaper can create an elegant or whimsical look, though it's difficult to remove if you decide to paint again.

Believe it or not, you can look for good deals to find a number of wallpaper stores online. The standard roll widths are 21 to 27 inches. Single roll lengths are 13.5 and 16.5 feet and double rolls are 27 feet long. A double roll covers 57 to 61 square feet, while a single roll covers 29 to 31 square feet.

Here's how to determine how much wallpaper you'll need. The total wall surface requires a number of wallpaper rolls. Measure the height of the room and deduct the windows, doors, crown molding and baseboard.

Divide one wallpaper roll into the total surface area and round up to the nearest number of rolls you will need. Don't forget you need excess wallpaper because of pattern repeats. It's also a good idea to keep one roll on hand for any repairs.

Whimsical wallpaper creates a fabulous powder room.
Whimsical wallpaper creates a fabulous powder room. | Source

Should You Use Wallpaper or Paint?

Wallpaper
Vs.
Paint
Clean dirt and flaking paint. Patch wall holes and cracks. Don't forget to smooth the wall surface.
Preparation
Fill cracks and imperfections. Remove dust residue. It's a good idea to use a stain-blocking primer so the wall will be perfect for the paint color.
Today there's a wide choice of textures, patterns and colors that are trendy.
Advantages
You can choose versatile colors. Paint is super easy to apply and either roll or use a spray gun.
You can take hours to remove old wallpaper. Installation takes patience and skills.
Downsides
Coverage could be uneven if applied improperly. You will need to paint a second coat for it to dry—at least 2 to 4 hours. It may require another coat.
$30 per average per roll, depending on design and quality. At least $75 for all of the supplies.
Do-It-Yourself
$25 average per gallon for good quality paint. Your DIY painting supplies will cost around $75.
A professional can run about $60 per hour to install the wallpaper.
Hire Professional
A pro painting contractor will cost about $75 per hour and maybe more.
Vinyl-coated wallpaper is great for homes with kids and pets. It's easy to wipe off the smudges.
Durability
Satin, eggshell and semi-gloss have a nice sheen that makes it easy to clean the walls and can stand up to repeated cleanings.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Linda Chechar

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      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        3 months ago from Arizona

        Umesh Chandra Bhatt, glad you like this article. It is definitely full of good ideas.

      • bhattuc profile image

        Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

        3 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

        Nice article. Useful. Thanks.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        4 months ago from Arizona

        Linda, we also had ugly living room wallpaper in the late 50s. It did make a comeback during the 80s with tiny patterns and coordinated borders. The wallpaper trend faded away again and as you said it is now quite popular. It always comes and goes.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        My home had wallpaper when I was a child. I use to love looking at the design on the paper in my room. It was very interesting to read that wallpaper is becoming popular again.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        4 months ago from Arizona

        Liz, I've removed flocked wallpaper from an old townhouse and turned around by fixing and painting the walls. I have installed a powder room in one of our new house. There's lots of pros and cons for choosing wallpaper and paint.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 months ago from UK

        I have gone through our house gradually removing paper and replacing it with paint. So I have read this article with great interest.

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