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The Wallpaper Vs Paint Debate

Caleb Pearson, of Pearson + Projects, offers food for thought on the pros and cons of using paint and wallpaper in your next makeover.

By: Caleb Pearson

3 December 2023

At some point of owning a property you will undoubtedly need to refresh the walls. Just living in a home creates wear and tear, and this gathers cumulatively over time until you come to a point where you realise some TLC is needed.

The common thought for most of us would be to do an internal repaint in this situation. And, yes, a repaint is by far the most popular choice. But before you jump in, is it time to consider using wallpaper?

I’ve seen, and been involved with creating, some bold and colourful house makeovers. As part of this we have regularly used both options for several reasons. Before you start your next makeover, here is food for thought on the differences between paint and wallpaper.

Modern wallpapers are easier to install and remove – as well as adding texture, patterns and colour to your space.

Pattern And Texture

If you want to transform a space with pattern and texture, wallpaper is the way to go. This has certainly been our top reason for using wallpaper. But wallpaper is not all about big statements; there are many choices which are subtle, simple, and blend in rather than stand out.

Wallpaper has come a long way from the outdated, difficult-to-remove versions of the past. Modern wallpapers are not only aesthetically pleasing but also easier to install and remove, making them a viable option for rental properties.

Pros:

Visual appeal: Wallpaper offers a wide range of patterns, colours and textures that can instantly transform a room. Whether you want a statement, or something subtle, there is a wide range of options to suit every style and taste.

Durability and longevity: High-quality wallpapers are durable and can withstand wear and tear over time. They are especially suitable for high-traffic areas such as living rooms and hallways. Well-maintained wallpaper can last up to 15 years or more, making it a cost-effective option in the long run.

Hiding imperfections: Wallpaper can effectively hide minor imperfections in the walls, such as small cracks or uneven surfaces, providing a smooth and polished finish.

Cons

Installation: While modern wallpapers are easier to install compared to their predecessors, the process still requires some level of precision and skill. Improper installation can result in visible seams or air bubbles. With some practice, this can be quicker than painting, but may vary on the level of preparation needed.

Removal: Removing wallpaper can be a time-consuming and labour-intensive task, especially older wallpaper that’s been in place for an extended period. This may lead to additional expense when preparing the property for new tenants.

High moisture: Not recommended in areas of high moisture, although there are specific types of wallpaper which can be used.

Extra process: While wallpapering can be quicker than painting with experience, for an internal makeover you will still need to paint skirtings, joinery, doors, etc. So, it does not completely remove the need for paint.

Painting is quicker and needs less skill than wallpapering.

Ease of Application

Painting remains the most popular choice for rental properties due to its versatility, cost-effectiveness and ease of application. It’s easier to find a painter or do it yourself, easier to pick popular colours, and less likely to date with time, factors which do make it the safer and popular option.

Pros:

Cost-effectiveness: Painting is generally more affordable than wallpapering. It requires minimal material costs, making it an attractive option for investors looking to maximise their return on investment.

Easy application: Painting is a straightforward process that can be completed relatively quickly with a wider availability of contractors. If you are going down the DIY approach, painting is generally a less daunting project to tackle than wallpaper.

Touch-ups: Painted walls can be touched up if there is isolated damage. A dent or damage can be patched and painted much easier than having to replace a run of wallpaper.

Suitable for all surfaces: There are a wide variety of paint products suitable for every room and surface in your house. Providing moisture and heat protection, anti-mould properties, harder wearing paints for skirtings, etc.

Cons:

Limited designs: Unlike wallpaper, which offers a wide variety of patterns and textures, paint provides a more limited range of design options.

Less coverage for imperfections: Unlike wallpaper, paint may not effectively conceal minor imperfections in the walls. Proper surface preparation is essential for achieving a smooth finish, and more chances of a plasterer being needed.

Durability: If both surfaces are cared for, a quality wallpaper will last longer than paint.

ABOVE Wallpaper is a good option to effectively hide minor imperfections in the walls.

The go-to solution for wall finishes is still painting and is not likely to be replaced. But before you rush into a repaint, why not take a moment to consider wallpaper. While the price point can vary largely, there are many affordable options which would be comparable to paint costs.

Or consider doing a combination of paint and wallpaper, as the two can complement each other nicely, with the ability to match colours between the two to create a cohesive look and design touch to your property, be it bright and bold or simple and subtle.

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