Paint or Wallpaper?

Paint or Wallpaper?

Looking at your plain wall and feeling uninspired? Applying a new spread of colour or patterned wallpaper can instantly refresh a space, but with the range of hues and textures available, choosing between a fresh coat of paint or a new wallpaper spread isn’t easy. To guide your next interior step, here are the main points of difference between paint and wallpaper to consider.


Paint: The use of colour is transformative in a space and applying a coat of colour is an easy way to distinguish different areas of the home. A coat of paint can bring elements of a space together to give the illusion of extra depth. Paint however, won’t be useful in concealing an uneven surface.

Wallpaper: The patterns, textures and design elements of wallpaper are endless, making it the ideal decorative choice. They can introduce colour and warmth into a room and subtle texture to liven your existing space. Wallpaper can accentuate personal style to make a statement in a relatively easy way and can be a useful tool to cover an uneven or damaged surface.


From wood prints to metal finishes or faux brick, wallpaper can create the impression of real timber or red brick without a structural change.  It can be difficult telling the difference between real and fake.


Paint: Preparation is the most important step in painting. It is essential to clean the surface properly before an application as paint will adhere better to a clean surface. The surface must be inspected for any mildew that may be present between tiles, on walls or bare wood. Any mildew or gloss will need to be removed before paint is applied.

The type of paint you use will determine the amount of time you need to set aside to paint a wall. An acrylic paint only takes a few hours to dry before the second coat but an oil-based paint can take up to 24 hours to dry before recoating. Acrylic paint is flexible, expandable and contractible in accordance with the weather conditions. It is perfect for exteriors but can also work as an interior wall, as it is washable. A low sheen finish is ideal as it is not too reflective or dominating. Oil-based paints are suitable for very hard wearing surfaces like doors and trims that can be scrubbed to death if necessary. Oil bases tend to be more prone to marks and knocks so they need a tougher, more durable finish.

Wallpaper: New wallpaper technology and easy application designs have made wallpaper a popular DIY option. You can now design your own wallpaper and with accessible application techniques, you can give it a try without a professional hanger. However, in humid conditions, the glue in the wallpaper is prone to loosen and its repair and removal will depend on the undercoat, so a professional is recommended in this case.


Paint: With occasional maintenance, a repaint will only be necessary every few years. Give your wall a quick clean with a warm, damp cloth to extend the life of your paint and ensure your wall is looking great. Water based paints are washable and will also dry quicker than an oil-based paint. For exterior walls, a gurney will be required to give the wall a thorough clean.

Wallpaper: Patterned wallpaper can conceal stains, grime and dirt buildup, but regular cleans will extend the life of your wallpaper and create a bright and fresh space. Most types of wallpaper will include a label specifying how it should be maintained but to be safe, commercial wallpaper cleaners are available for non-washable prints. A basic mix of warm water and cleaning detergent is suitable for vinyl and washable wallpapers. Start scrubbing from the top of the wall, ensuring the wall is lined with plastic to catch excess water.

Still stuck choosing between paint or wallpaper? Ask a professional to break down the two options or request free quotes to get started on your repaint or new wallpaper spread.

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