tips and tricks5 min read

To paint or to wallpaper, that IS the question

Two bedrooms decorated in Lick wallpaper and paint

WordsMaha Elley

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When decorating (or redecorating) your home, transforming your walls with paint or wallpaper can have a huge impact on the way you feel. But therein lies the dilemma; should you go for paint OR wallpaper? To paint or wallpaper 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. If you’re struggling to decide whether to use wallpaper or paint, here’s a rundown of factors to keep in mind for both.

Is putting up wallpaper easier than painting?

If you’re looking for a speedy and efficient home decor fix, how much time you need to invest in prep and application should be taken into account. The ease of application can be the deciding factor for many people choosing between wallpaper and paint. 

Wallpaper:

Prep: 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. 

Application: Hanging wallpaper requires a little more skill than painting, but it’s totally doable. If you fancy having a go at a DIY wallpaper job, follow our guide for everything you need to know about how to hang up wallpaper.

Paint:

Prep: 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. You can read our guide on how to prep different wall surfaces, but as a general rule, prep 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 color coats.

Application: Whether you’re a DIY expert or a total newbie, you can teach yourself how to paint a wall professionally with just a little bit of patience and time. Note that it takes 24 hours for paint to fully dry and 5-10 days for paint to cure. So take that into account to give yourself enough time to complete the project.

Man smoothing Lick Botanical 03 Wallpaper onto a wall
Woman is painting a wall with paint roller using Lick paint

Does wallpaper or paint last longer? 

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.

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

What is more costly wallpaper or paint?

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. With either wall finish (as with everything) you can find both entry-level and high-end choices. 

Wallpaper:

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).

Paint:

Generally, paint is affordable and you don’t need as many supplies. 


Top tip: Opt 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 and 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.

Location

Wallpaper:

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 eggshell 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.

Paint:

Multi-surface paint can just go about anywhere. We’d strongly recommend using eggshell paint in bathrooms that experience high levels of humidity. 

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