How to choose between wallpaper and paint

How to choose between wallpaper and paint

If you’re embarking on a home renovation, you may be wondering whether to choose paint or wallpaper for your decor. In order to help you decide, we’ve put together a short guide outlining the realities of both options…

Let us paint you a picture

Many people wanting a quick and inexpensive renovation will simply order a few tins of emulsion – it’s usually perceived as the default choice. But what are the pros and cons of paint?

Farrow and Ball, Modern Emulsion & Full Gloss, Painted in Bancha No.298

paint positives

Compared with the upfront costs of wallpaper and installation, paint is usually the cheaper option. It’s also more forgiving of the DIY decorator or local handyman, as many common paint mistakes can be easily rectified with another coat or a bit more wall prep. Nowadays, a huge spectrum of colours and finishes is widely available, meaning there will be a paint to suit every aesthetic.

paint negatives

Paint can be messy to apply and there’s a chance of staining your flooring or furniture during the decoration process. Oil-based paints take a very long time to dry and create environmental hazards, releasing VOCs into the air as they dry and leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and water when the leftovers are thrown away.

how long will paint last?

Paint is very susceptible to scratches, marks and chips – this is especially true of the chalky, matte finishes that are fashionable at the moment. Although a good paint job can last 5 to 10 years, it is likely to start looking tired after a few years, especially in high traffic areas so you should expect to be touching it up fairly regularly to maintain the finish.

what about wallpaper?

Wells Interiors Lewis & Wood installation for Charlotte Lane Fox

As expert wallpaper hangers with over a decade in the business, we’ve seen every wallpaper triumph and disaster under the sun! Here’s our guide to why you might choose wallpaper and when to avoid it.

wallpaper positives

Wallpaper creates a smooth surface over your walls, meaning that hairline cracks can be easily hidden and surface imperfections may also be hidden, with the right choice of wallpaper. Choosing wallpaper for your decor also offers a cornucopia of design options, allowing you to realise your creative vision to the full. Brands like de Gournay even offer custom colourways and various bespoke options. As well as a huge range of prints and patterns, one can also choose silks, wools, grasscloths or suedes to add warmth, depth and a sense of luxury that paint simply cannot achieve.

wallpaper negatives

Let’s be clear: hanging high-end wallpaper is a skilled job and not one for the casual DIY fan. Because you need a professional installer, the upfront costs are higher. Mistakes and damage are harder to rectify than with paint, and if you get bored of your chosen paper it’s more of a hassle to replace it with something else.

how long will it last?

A skilled wallpaper installation should guarantee you at least 15 years’ enjoyment from your chosen paper, meaning that although the upfront costs might be higher, over the course of its life wallpaper may prove more cost-effective than paint.

Cole and Son, Forest wallpaper

Everyone has different circumstances and different requirements when it comes to decorating their homes, and paint may be a better choice for certain people, certain budgets or certain spaces. However, wallpaper can be a more sophisticated option that offers a higher standard of interior design, a cleaner installation process and greater longevity. 

If you’ve decided on wallpaper and you’d like to discuss your choices with an expert installer, do get in touch with us. Or if you’re still looking for inspiration, take a look at our previous projects or our list of brand partners.

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