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Paint vs Wallpaper

Colour swatches for painting a house

Deciding between wallpaper and paint is difficult as there are equal reasons for both sides.

The walls of your home have the advantage of changing and transforming your space with the help of paint or wallpaper. If your new year resolutions involved changing decor, you may have a nagging question to resolve: Wallpaper or paint? When making your decision, there are three main factors to consider; ease of preparation and application to your surfaces, the overall cost, and how long each will last in your space.

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The process of applying wallpaper to walls is more time consuming than painting. However, wallpaper can last up to 15 years and beyond, which makes it cost-effective in the long run. It is generally accepted that properly hung wallpaper will last 3 times as long as paint. Wallpaper adheres easily and smoothly to walls, hiding many surface imperfections. It can also add warmth, depth and style to a room that monotone paint simply cannot achieve. Chic designs, intriguing textures and beautiful prints have an impactful effect on the décor of a room. Wallpaper can be used to create a designer look in any space, and can also be applied to just one wall as a feature wall.


Removing existing wallpaper can be a tedious task that requires patience and the right tools to be effective.  Stripping wallpaper can be done with chemicals or stripping tools, but care must be taken or damage can result to the wall.


It’s generally easier to prepare a surface for painting especially if you’re using non- reflective paint which is great for concealing flaws. Furthermore, it’s easier to just paint over existing paint, especially if it’s still in good condition.

Pro tip: Painting over wallpaper isn’t a good idea regardless of its condition as the seams are visible even when using matte paint. Besides, it’s tough to remove wallpaper that’s been painted over.

Despite these benefits, consider that paint, especially the oil-based variety, takes a longer time to dry. Because of this, it takes a bit of waiting to apply any additional coats.If the paint is applied too thickly on a vertical surface, it tends to trickle or sag (although there are several other reasons for this also). If this happens, when the coat dries, what remains is an uneven surface with dired drips. People that use wallpaper don’t have to deal with this particular problem.



On average, wallpaper can last from 10 to 15 years. Paint, on the other hand, needs to be retouched every two to three years.However, under humid conditions, the glue in the wallpaper may come loose and cause the covering to peel off the wall. This is a key downside of wallpaper:

Despite being able to last for longer periods than paint, wallpaper is easily damaged and holds dirt that can simply be wiped off of a painted surface. Also be aware that your wallpaper may eventually become difficult to find as tastes change, meaning it will become close to impossible to find an exact match if you to repair certain sections in the future. When you install your wallpaper you will need to purchase more than you need in case of necessary repairs down the road. Just take note that the installed wallpaper may fade over time and end up not matching with your spare rolls.


Paint, particularly the oil-based kind is not very heat resistant.  Over time, paint on a surface can become brittle and peel or melt from the foundation. Consider specifically manufactured heat resistant paint when making your decision to give your paintwork some added longevity.



Each new installation of wallpaper is generally more expensive than applying paint. Wallpapers may last longer, but you will have higher initial costs.


It is considered generally cheaper to use paint than wallpaper in the beginning. Paint also needs fewer supplies overall. That being said, both provide a wide variety of options with regards to cost, so it’s still possible to spend more depending if you use high-end paint.

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As you can see, there are pros and cons for boths sides, the decision will lie with which factors are more important to you. Whichever you choose, there is no doubt that your walls will benefit from the addition of either. Just keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to pick one or the other. Many well designed spaces utilise both paint and wallpaper in their designs. Some people may favour one over the other, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. If you are still undecided, engage the services of a professional painting service and weigh up your options with their guidance.

"We paint all surfaces with the correct Dulux & Resene paint system following the manufacturer's specification."