tips and tricks5 min read

To paint or to wallpaper, that IS the question

WordsMaha Elley


When decorating (or redecorating) your home, transforming your walls with paint or wallpaper can have a huge impact on the way we feel about the spaces we spend the most time in. But therein lies the dilemma; should you go for paint OR wallpaper?  

To paint or wallpaper - this can be one of the biggest debates in home decor (no exaggeration). The world of wall finishes is an exciting one, but we get that the sheer amount of choice can be slightly overwhelming. The truth is that either option can amp up the style quotient of your home and add character if applied with care. But there may be one that better suits the space and your needs.

If you’re struggling to decide whether to use wallpaper or paint, here’s a rundown of factors to keep in mind for both:

Paint or wallpaper: how to prep for both

If you’re looking for a speedy and efficient home decor fix, how much time you need to invest in prep should be taken into account: 

Wallpaper: Generally, prepping for hanging wallpaper will take slightly longer. Prep time before you wallpaper depends on whether you have existing wallpaper that needs to be removed. If so, then wallpaper removal can be time-consuming. If you’re working with a bare and smooth surface, you’re good to get decorating post a simple clean of the surface. If your wall has any small holes or marks then you will need to fill them in. You don’t need to apply a primer, but you do need to apply wallpaper adhesive/paste (check out all our wallpapering tools).

Check out our guides on how to prepare walls for wallpaper and how to wallpaper a wall.

Paint: Again, how long it takes to prepare for wall painting depends on whether the surface you’re working with is free of old paint or wallpaper and smooth enough for a flawless finish - but as a general rule, it should be slightly quicker than the wallpaper option. If you're not working with a smooth surface, you’ll need to spend some time filling in any holes and sanding down any lumps before paint application. Apply a coat of primer (unless you’re using one of Lick’s self-priming paints that is) before starting with the colour coats.

Wondering.."can I paint over wallpaper"? Short answer is yes! Read out instructions for painting over wallpaper.


A major consideration for many: how long is my wall finish going to last? 

Wallpaper: Invest in high-quality modern wallpaper and you’ll find that it lasts and lasts. Keep in mind that it’s applied with an adhesive, so rooms that see more dampness such as bathrooms and kitchens may be less suited. 

Paint: The great thing about paint (one of the great things) is that chipped or peeling bits can easily be repainted without much time investment or expense. A well-applied paint job should last at least five years without the need for a touch up.

(Tip: At Lick, we design both our wallpapers and paints to be durable and wipeable - ideal if you have pets or little ones running around.)


Cost is dependent on the brand of wallpaper or paints that you buy - so it’s hard to outright state which one is more cost-effective. On average though, it’s fair to say that wallpaper tends to be more expensive than paint (especially if you include the tools you need to put it up).

Generally, paint is affordable and you don’t need as many supplies. With either wall finish though (as with everything) you can find both entry-level and high-end choices. We’d recommend opting for a brand that’s focused on quality and durability over a quick, cheap fix that’s likely to need replacing regularly. Keep in mind that cheap paint is likely to need a few coats, while cheap wallpaper won’t provide you with the smooth and stylish finish you’re after and is more prone to damage. 

Pay a little more for a finish that lasts longer and looks better.



Modern wallpaper is designed for durability, but the adhesive application doesn’t make it the best fit for rooms with high levels of humidity. We’d recommend sticking to paint and tiles for kitchens and bathrooms to avoid having to re-paper peeled away sections. 

If you have your heart set on wallpaper for your kitchen or bathroom, try tiling the lower half of the wall and using wallpaper on the top half to prevent moisture from seeping through. You can also do a feature wall (check out how to wallpaper a feature wall here and our hanging wallpaper advice).

So, paint or wallpaper - what's best?

In terms of other rooms, either choice can make a great style statement. Ultimately, your choice will come down to your taste, and whether you find a wallpaper or paint that you love that suits the space. 

Take factors such as your budget, where you’re planning to decorate with it and how much prep time you’re willing to put in into consideration, but ultimately, either option can provide an exceptional finish. Get the best of both by applying a combination of wallpaper and paint around your home.

Shop our contemporary wallpaper