Wallpaper Vs Paint: Which One Should You Choose?

Last modified on February 8th, 2019 at 12:41 pm

5 min read

Is there always a wallpaper vs paint battle being fought in your head? Wondering which is a better wall surface treatment for your home? This post makes the choice easier for you.

(This is a chapter of a bigger guide on wallpapers.)

Here’s what this post will help you with:

  • Why Paint?
  • Why Wallpaper?
  • Wallpaper Vs Paint: A Comparison Guide
  • Wallpaper Vs Paint: The Final Verdict

We feel you! Picking the perfect tone for your walls is no easy task. After all, the right texture and finish can turn your walls from drab to fab! To wallpaper or not is one question. ‘Are there any disadvantages’ is another. Is it cheaper to paint or wallpaper a room? Basically, you’re always faced with a choice of what wall treatment to go for: Wallpapers or paint.

Well, let’s find out!

Why Paint?

why paint: wallpaper vs paint

  • For the longest time, paints have been the default solution for Indian homes and apartments.
  • The most popular choices today are emulsion and occasionally distemper (though that is slowly phasing out).
  • Since emulsion paints come with various properties these days (VOC-free, anti-fungal, washable, and with finishes such as matte, gloss and sheen), these have become clear winner among paints for interiors.
  • In terms of textures and finishes, the chances to get creative with paints has increased, a case in point being decorative wall art designs.

Why Wallpaper?

why wallpaper: wallpaper vs paint

  • The aesthetic charm of wallpapers has gained popularity among the masses in recent times.
  • Wallpapers come in different material choices too–vinyl, paper-backed, non-woven and fabric.
  • Available in rolls, these come in standard widths of 20.76 inches, 21 inches and even 48 inches, while larger printed graphics can be found in width of 64 inches, 78 inches and 120 inches, depending on the design.
  • There are plenty of options in wallpapers too, from shades and textures, to patterns, prints and customised graphics. (Bold print wallpapers are trending in 2019, btw!)

Wallpaper or Paint: Pros and Cons

Here’s a comprehensive guide of the advantages and disadvantages of both to help you out:

(Note: As far as prep work is concerned, both paint and wallpaper need an even surface before application. The walls need to be sanded, plastered and finished with a coat of primer. If you have an existing wallpaper, it needs to stripped down carefully without damaging the wall. Might require certain chemicals to get the job done.)

Paint

Wallpaper

Application

Ensures perfect finish overall and at edges.

However…

Process takes 2 to 3 days for as a minimum of 3 coats is applied.

May stain floors, furniture and windows, if proper care is not taken.

Can be applied quickly and without a mess if you have the right tools and basic skills.

However…

There are chances of air bubbles or crevices forming and, thus, spoiling the appeal of the design.

Appearance

 Renders an even finish but colours may sometimes vary from the chart to the final coat.  There are no surprises in terms of shade accuracy.

Durability

Modern paint solutions last longer (up to 5 years) and are also washable.

However…

 Paint can fade, if exposed to direct sunlight. 

Damaged portions of wallpapers can be covered or replaced with leftover roll.

However…

Wallpapers can fade when exposed to sunlight, and can be damaged by scratches and tears.

Variety

Is available in every imaginable shade possible.

However…

Patterned textures cost more and require more time to be applied.

Is available in a variety of colours, prints, patterns and textures (also customisable), with roughly the same application time and process..

However…

May not be available in specific shades.

Costs

Is cheaper than wallpapers, in cost per sq ft. Cost per sq ft increases for high-end designs and for installation.

Wallpaper Vs Paint: The Final Verdict

Choose Paints…

  • If you want a washable/cleanable surface (possible with washable emulsion paints).
  • If you need a specific shade that may not be easy to find in wallpapers.
  • When time and skilled labour are not an issue.
  • If you have kids and pets who might accidentally tear wallpaper (paint surfaces can be wiped clean in case of an incident).

Choose Wallpapers…

  • If you want to highlight one or two walls, or just some pillars.
  • When you’re looking for options to fix your rented home.
  • If you have rooms with minimum humidity or moisture.
  • for a quick fix solution to a damaged wall.
  • If you’re suffering from extreme allergies to dust and the smell of paint.

Next, we’re going to tell you whether painting over wallpaper is possible or not! And also whether you can install wallpaper on painted walls or not.

Until then, if you’d like to read some more about paints and paint colour ideas, here are some posts that can start you off:

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