Wallpaper and paint are both great options to refresh a room.
Paint is best for areas prone to moisture, like kitchens and bathrooms.
Paint is DIY-friendly, while wallpaper generally needs professional installation.
Wallpaper can last 10–15 years, while paint needs touch-ups every 3–5 years.
Installing wallpaper cost $250–$1,000 per room, paint costs $200–$700 per room.
Whether you just moved into your new home or you’ve been there for years and are tired of the current style, you know it's time to give your walls a makeover. Transforming your walls—even creating an accent wall—can bring life into any space. But the tricky part is deciding how you’re going to do it, and whether wallpaper or paint is the best option.
We have you covered! This guide will list the pros and cons of wallpaper versus paint and how they stack up against each other.
The Pros of Wallpaper
While some might think of wallpaper as passé, this element of home decor is making a huge comeback thanks to the various styles, designs, and colors you can find it in. There’s even paintable wallpaper and custom-made ones, too, so you can make your space totally one-of-a-kind.
Modern-day wallpapers are made with higher-quality material and are more durable than their predecessors. So, with proper installation and maintenance, you can expect your wallpaper to last 10 to 15 years on average.
Long gone are the limited wallpaper design options. Now you can get simple, textured, paintable, landscape, matte, glitter, flocked, and many more wallpaper types to fit any need. Whether you’re looking to transform a wall into a focal point or give a room an entirely new feel, the possibilities are endless.
The Cons of Wallpaper
Depending on your situation, wallpaper isn’t an obvious go-to. Here are some things to consider before plastering it to your walls.
Difficult to Remove
When you’re ready for a new look, you can’t just pull your wallpaper down. While it sounds like a simple solution, you can potentially damage your wall—which means more work for you—if you don’t remove it carefully using a scraping tool with water or a wallpaper solvent.
If you need to make any repairs, it’ll also require some time and effort since you’ll essentially have to remove it. After removing it, you’ll have to align the wallpaper to give it a seamless appearance, which is much easier said than done.
On the other hand, if you know you’d rather bypass this step in the future, you might be able to paint over your wallpaper, though it depends on the type of wallpaper and its conditions.
Not Suitable in Some Areas of Your Home
Because wallpaper adheres to your walls using glue, it starts to peel when exposed to moist, humid conditions. Peeling can also occur in extreme heat, which is why it’s not suitable to install wallpaper in rooms that are prone to moisture and high temperatures, like the kitchen and bathroom.
Not Easy to Install
Get wallpaper, place it on your wall, all done? While it seems simple, in reality, it’s a time-consuming and complex project that requires precious cutting, lining up the pattern exactly, and careful smoothing to remove any air bubbles. The skill and experience needed for this project make hiring a local wallpaper pro the best choice.
The Pros of Painting
Painting walls is a classic way to transform a room. Along with colors in any hue you can imagine, paint also comes in different types and finishes for you to choose from.
Great in Moist Areas
Most wallpapers don’t perform best under moist, humid conditions. But, with so many types of paint on the market, you can give your bathrooms a new look by using a moisture-friendly paint that’ll stand up to even the hottest showers.
Easy to DIY
The most time-consuming part of applying paint to your walls is the preparation. But once you’ve cleaned the surface, covered up all the blemishes, taped off areas, and sanded and primed the wall, the only step left is to roll or brush on your paint. The best part: You don’t have to worry about removing air bubbles and making sure the pattern is lined up.
Yes, wallpapers do have abundant designs for homeowners. But if you’re interested in a wall that features the solar system using only the shades of a beach-themed color palette, paint is the way to go.
Easy to Change
If you’re ready for a new look, plan on using the same type of paint, and your wall is in good condition, you can paint directly over it. If you plan to go from a darker color to a lighter one or change the type of paint you use, you’ll need to prime the wall first, but the process isn’t time- or labor-intensive.
The Cons of Painting
But before you go pick out paint samples, look at some of its flaws that might make you want to choose wallpaper instead.
Painting your room is easy, but one of the downsides is that paint in high-traffic areas typically peels and chips, requiring touch-ups to keep it in tip-top condition. Also, most paint will need a fresh coat every three to five years, compared to wallpaper that can last for over a decade.
Designs Are Complex Projects
Beautiful, unique designs are possible with paint, but it’ll take loads of time to create it—and cost a pretty penny to get all the shades you’ll need. If you want to hire a local painting pro to design a mural on your wall, it’ll save you time ... but can cost $1,270 on average.
Wallpaper vs. Paint: Which Is Better?
When it comes to finding that perfect design or color to bring out the room’s beauty, you really can’t go wrong with wallpaper or paint. But how do they compare with each other when faced with some of the most important factors to homeowners?
Wallpaper can last 10 to 15 years with very little maintenance, while paint will need constant touch-ups and a fresh coat every three to five years.
Longer lifespan: Wallpaper
Both wallpaper and paint can be inexpensive or costly projects, depending on the quality and material you use. The cost to have wallpaper installed is $250 to $1,000 per room, while a professional paint job costs $200 to $700 per room. However, the initial upfront cost of wallpaper installation pays for itself because of its long lifespan.
More cost-effective: Wallpaper
Installing wallpaper isn’t a simple project and typically requires a pro to get it done right. Painting, on the other hand, is a DIY project even beginners can do—as long as they have patience.
Best for DIYers: Paint
Wallpapers are known for their various designs, but the sheer customization you can get from paint can’t be ignored. While paint is the go-to for creating designs unique to you, it’ll take much more time than applying wallpaper with designs.
Best for designs that save time: Wallpaper
Best for customizations: Paint
The style you choose can impact your resale value for both wallpaper and paint. If your wallpaper has a neutral design, it won’t drastically affect the value compared to wallpaper suited for a specific style. But overall, paint is less likely to hurt your resale value.
Lower impact on resale value: Paint
Bathrooms and Kitchens
Wallpaper doesn’t fare well in these moist climate areas of your home, and the wallpaper itself can peel and excessive water can lead to mold growth behind it. But because of the different types of paint, you can give your bathroom or kitchen the makeover you want without worrying about moisture impacting its appearance.
Best for Moist Conditions: Paint
When you’re ready to change wallpaper, you need to carefully remove it from your wall so you don’t accidentally damage the drywall underneath. Then you’ll need to install fresh wallpaper over it, which can require professional installation. Even if you only need to make repairs, it’ll also take careful application on your part.
Easiest to replace or repair: Paint
While wallpaper comes in different patterns and has solid colors to choose from, too, it can’t compare to paint. With paint, homeowners can mix different shades and hues to fit their exact needs.
Best to color match: Paint