Slapdown! Paint vs. Wallpaper

We know which is less inexpensive initially, painting a room is less than $100, while wallpaper can run up to $100 per roll!  But in the long run, which makes more economical sense?

Vinyl wallpapers and vinyl-coated wallpapers can last up to 15 years.  Painted surfaces tend to need cleaning more often, and according to the experts, require repainting every 3-5 years.  Let’s do the math:

For a 20x20 room – 400 square feet


2 gallons paint + primer - $75 = $0.19 / square foot
Replaced every 4 years for 12 years - $0.76


$40/double roll which covers 56 square feet = 8 rolls needed - $320 = $0.80 Square foot

If you plan on keeping the look for awhile, the prices do become comparable.  But paint can be touched up along the way, while small repairs can be done to wallpaper, a major scrape or tear can mean a major replacement.

Besides the durability and ability to cover damaged walls, wallpaper can not only do solid colors and faux finishes, but they can take the wall covering to a new level with natural materials, such as jute or leather, or any design, pattern or picture under the sun.

Period homes in particular shine with wallpaper, and those looking to decorate a Victorian parlor or dining room need a good wallpaper to complete the look with style.

Another consideration when choosing between wallpaper and paint is the wall material itself.  If you’ve ever had plaster walls, the real deal, you know the dust they can create.  Layers of dust can form in plaster-walled rooms in a matter of days, and keeping up with it can be one of the disadvantages of living in an older home.  Wallpaper can seal the deal, and the walls, keeping the dust undercover and off the furniture.

One sticking point to wallpaper, people are scared of the removal process.  Mention to anyone you’re removing wallpaper, and you’ll hear horror stories that can top those of any baby labor story.  People just don’t realize it’s not that difficult a process anymore – the wallpaper removal, not the labor, that is.

If you’re planning on selling your home any time soon, wallpaper may not be the best choice for your home.  The first thought that will pop into mind of a potential buyer is that it's going to be a pain to remove!  If you have wallpaper in a home that’s on the market, consider mentioning in any brochure or flyer that the wallpaper is strippable and easily removable, and if it’s designer give it a boost by name dropping.

Bottom Line

If you plan on selling your home, paint may be a better choice.  If you plan on staying put for awhile, wallpaper has years and years of staying power.