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Wallpaper vs. Paint: Which is Right for You?

Are you wanting to give a room a quick refresh or complete makeover? One of the best ways to do so is changing up your walls. With the help of paint, wallpaper, or even a unique wall mural, you can easily transform the look and feel of a room. But which option is right for you? Here are a few things to consider before adding a fresh coat of paint or applying wallpaper.

Cost

Before you start shopping or redecorating, determining your budget is key; this will help you select your options. Both paint and wallpaper are available at every budget level, but make sure to not sacrifice quality for savings.

Generally, paint is a low-cost option. You can purchase a gallon of paint for as little as $15, but paints often average at $30 per gallon. Expect to purchase two to three gallons of paint to cover an average-sized bedroom. It also doesn’t hurt to have extra on hand for contingencies and touch-ups. Don’t forget about supplies, including brushes, trays, rollers, and cleaners.

paint tray and roller and bedroom with painted wall

Wallpaper, on the other hand, has quite a few upfront costs. Wallpaper prices vary depending on material and style, but the average price ranges from $15 to $50 a single roll. A standard wallpaper roll commonly measures to be 25” wide and has a coverage of 28 sq. feet. If wallpapering a 10 x 10’ sized room, it can take up to 6 rolls to cover all the walls. Depending on the material you choose, you’ll also need paste and a plastic smoothing tool
for installation.

wallpaper installation supplies and living room with pattern wallpaper

A newer form of wallpaper is a high-quality wall mural. Wall murals are available in a wide selection of durable, fire-rated materials, endless designs and styles, and custom sizing. Depending on the material you choose, wall mural prices range from $8.00 to $12.00 per sq. foot. The panels measure to be 52” wide and have a coverage of 40 sq. feet, making it a cost-effective choice as you order fewer rolls. Plus, it’s faster to install compared to traditional wallpaper.

Selection

With unlimited varieties, sheens, and colors, paint is a versatile choice for updating a room.

Paint is easily accessible and can be purchased at nearly any hardware store. When you have an idea of what color or color scheme you want for your room, take some sample cards or color swatches. Often, colors in the store look different at home due to the changes in light. Samples allow you to see how different colors will appear in your home.

Besides color, you’ll also want to consider which finish is appropriate for your space. Finish choices range from flat to high-gloss. Flat finishes are ideal for high-traffic areas and easily hide surface imperfections. Eggshell has a low-luster sheen and is easy to clean and better for low-traffic areas like a bedroom or living room. Semi-gloss is resistant to humidity, making it great for kitchens and bathrooms.

Wallpaper comes in a variety of materials and endless styles, designs, patterns, and textures, providing you with more customizable options. With digital printing, you can even use your own photo, artwork, or design to create a truly custom wallpaper.

Wallpaper and wall murals are available for purchase online or design showrooms, and often times retailers will provide samples for little to no cost. This is perfect for comparing different materials, patterns, and colors and to help visualize it in a room.

Location

When deciding between wallpaper and paint, ask yourself some questions: which room are you redecorating? How often will you change the style of the room? Will the room be exposed to direct sunlight or moisture? The answers will help you determine which is the best choice.

Generally, paint is suitable for all areas of the house. However, excess heat or moisture can adversely affect the life of painted walls. Make sure to refer to paint finishes to see which is the right one for your particular room.

If you’ve ever been interested in incorporating a particular color or bold print, wallpaper can be great for dipping your toe in the latest trends. If you’re wary of placing it in a large room, smaller spaces such as bathrooms or alcoves are perfect for wallpapering.

As wallpaper materials have improved over the years, so has their durability. Still, it is recommended to avoid installing wallpaper where it may be exposed to high-moisture or excess heat. There are plenty of wallpaper materials to pick from, making it simple to choose the appropriate one for your room.

Peel-and-Stick Removable Wallpaper
Removable wallpaper is an excellent choice for renters, apartment dwellers, or anyone who likes to change décor frequently. It can be removed easily and requires no paste. Installation is simple – just peel, position, and stick.

Prepasted Wallpaper
Prepasted wallpaper is a current, more durable version of yesteryear’s traditional wallpaper. With its water activated adhesive backing, prepasted wallpaper is an easy to install material. Bedrooms and living rooms are ideal spaces in which to install this material.

Vinyl Wallpaper
Vinyl HD Texture wallpaper captures and heightens rich colors of photos and artwork. The material is rugged, stain resistant, and scrubbable, making it an excellent choice for kitchens or high-traffic areas.

EcoBella
Perfect for the environmentally-conscious, EcoBella is an eco-friendly material that gives homeowners a green alternative. Made up of recycled materials, it’s a durable wallcovering that can withstand high-traffic areas or damp/humid locations. It’s perfect for a kid’s room, bathroom, or kitchen.

Lumaluxe
Lumaluxe is a textured wallcovering with subtle shimmer and iridescent color. This stand-out choice will bring a touch of sparkle to smaller spaces such as a powder room or alcove.

Durability

If properly primed, a painted wall can last up to 10 years and only need touch-ups here and there. If it’s a high-traffic room, scratches and dings can show and will need maintenance. If you need to touch up paint, you’ll need to ensure you can obtain the correct color and finish.

With proper care, wallpaper can last for 15 years and beyond. This is perfect for high-traffic areas or if you don’t change up your décor very often. Most of today’s wallpaper materials are quite durable and easy to maintain. Dirt or debris can be easily cleaned from wallpaper using a damp cloth or sponge. Over time, paper can lift at seams or edges (and sometimes wallpaper can bubble), but these issues can be easily corrected with paste.

Installation

One of the biggest advantages of paint is that just about anyone can do it themselves and is a relatively quick process. Walls should be properly prepped prior to painting. This includes filling, spackling, and sanding any damage or imperfections on the surface and removing any existing wallpaper. You’ll want to ensure that the paint is low-VOC and the room is well-ventilated too. Special care must be taken while painting; painter’s tape and dropcloths are a must to keep floors and surfaces paint-free.

Wallpaper is great for hiding wall surface imperfections. Wallpaper can be installed either by a professional or homeowners. An experienced wallpaper hanger will properly prep walls and align patterns perfectly, but be prepared to pay up to $1000 for wallpaper installation in a larger living room.

If you choose to install wallpaper without the assistance of a professional, it’s generally recommended to have a family member or friends to assist. However, you’ll still want to properly prep the walls by removing any existing wallpaper, filling in larger holes, and sanding uneven areas. Installation methods vary from material to material, such as peel-and-stick, paste, and prepasted. You’ll need to carefully align the panels to make sure the pattern or design properly matches.

No matter which you choose, paint or wallpaper, both will transform the look of any room. Either one will give your home character. Still can’t decide between paint or wallpaper? Get the best of both worlds and mix both! Wallpaper creates a beautiful statement wall and paint can be matched to accent your chosen design.

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