paint vs wallpaper pin Lars Contzen large graphic floral wallpaper

This room incorporates both paint (or monochrome wallpaper) and a bold Lars Contzen graphic floral wallpaper to keep things interesting.

The Benefits of Wallpaper over Paint

Wallpaper is making a huge come-back and gone are the days of color blocking with paint. If your reading this right now, it must mean that you are considering wallpaper, but possibly have a few hesitations. Everyone knows what to expect with paint, but what is wallpaper technology like these days? As you might have hoped, we are happy to inform you that along with all the stunning new looks in wallpaper has also come improved ease in hanging and removal. In this article, we’ll discuss these technologies, cost, care, fun functionalities and of course, the aesthetics of modern wallpaper.

Read Ahead:

Schöner Wohnen Soft Striped wallpaper

This soft pink striped wallpaper by Schöner Wohnen is a non-woven material, meaning it’s super easy to hang – just apply the paste directly to the wall!

Improved Technology: Wallpaper is Easy Now!

Wallpaper technology has seriously come a long way since your parents and grandparents time – it’s actually easy now. People are often turned off of wallpaper because of previous experiences with hanging older types of wallpaper, or because of bad experiences removing wallpaper, which would also have been the older stuff. It’s true that wallpaper used to be hard to hang and hard to remove, but things have changed!

A major advancement in the world of wallpaper came with the use of the non-woven material. Non-woven is a mix of natural and synthetic fibers that have been pressed or felted together into a flat sheet. It is a popular material used in the medical industry; it’s what gauze is made from, but also things like coffee filters and diapers are made of a non-woven material as well.

As a wallpaper, non-woven material is strong (doesn’t rip or wrinkle) but also flexible. When hanging, unlike with paper wallpapers where the paste must be applied to the paper and strict soaking times must be followed, with non-woven wallpapers, you can simply apply the paste directly to the wall and comfortably stick the dry wallpaper to it. Easy-peasy. Also exciting is that when it comes time for a change, a non-woven wallpaper can also be removed dry and all in one swift yank – no more day-long sessions picking off wet shreds of old wallpaper.

Of course, older styles of wallpaper are still sold, so if your priorities are around easy hanging and removal, keep your eyes peeled for non-wovens!

High Quality embossed white demask wallpaper

This high quality white demask wallpaper will look fresh far longer than a boring coat of white paint

Cost: Thinking Economically with Wallpaper

Now that we’ve established wallpaper as an option, let’s get into the details; how does the cost of wallpaper compare to that of paint?

Think of any purchase where the longevity is important, for example, a pair of shoes. In one sense, it is “cheaper” to buy a pair of low-cost shoes than a more durable, higher quality pair. But assume those cheaper shoes will have to be replaced much sooner than the durable pair; maybe 4 times sooner. Then in a truer sense, the durable shoes would be the wiser economical decision. In this allegory, wallpaper is the durable, high quality pair of shoes.

To be more precise, the cost of 1 Litre of paint ranges from about 10 to 20 bucks. If 100ml covers approximately 1 squared meter, then we can say paint costs about 1-2 bucks per squared meter. The really cheap stuff will also require a second coat meaning realistically it will actually cost more like 2 – 4 bucks per squared meter. Wallpaper can also be quick inexpensive, starting at only about 10 bucks per roll, but depending on the material and brand, it can also be quite expensive. If one roll covers about 5 squared meters, then we can say that the cost of wallpaper starts from only 2 bucks per squared meter, depending on what you choose.

So yes, paint can be “cheaper” than wallpaper, initially at least. BUT, wallpaper can be expected to last for longer than 15 years while paint generally requires retouching every 3 years. Wallpaper lasts 5x longer than paint and it is not nearly 5x more expensive. Realistically, paint only looks fresh and new for the first year before it starts to accumulate scuffs, chips and handprints, whereas wallpaper is much more low-maintenance and stays looking fresh for far longer.

Since durability is so closely tied to cost, lets quickly talk about wallpaper care. If you choose a wallpaper that is ‘scrubbable’, this means that it won’t get stained and that dirt can be cleaned without damaging it, and let me tell you, wallpaper is much easier to clean than a painted wall. Keep your eyes open for non-wovens or vinyl. Many wallpapers are even shock absorbent, to handle high traffic spaces like hallways or stairs. So while wallpaper might sometimes have the higher upfront cost, it really does pay for itself in durability and ease of care.

Paintable fishbone wallpaper bike

This paintable fishbone wallpaper’s patterning is done with real quartz sand to create an unbelievable texture and depth.

Cool New Features and Functionalities

Speaking of impact resistant wallpaper, there are so many practical and fun new features that wallpaper can offer:

Paintable Wallpaper

Paintable wallpaper exists and it’s about as practical as it gets. These wallpapers are generally thick and structured, making them perfect for covering up imperfections on the wall below. They come in thousands of different patterns from subtle textures to bold modern or retro graphics. Most paintable wallpapers are impact resistant and many are sound absorbing. Oh, and you can paint them any color you want to match your home perfectly; no more settling.

Check out our selection of paintable wallpapers here.


Impact Resistance

Especially for wallpaper in high traffic zones like hallways or stairs, you’ll want to pick something that can stand up to the shoes being kicked off and the bikes being leaned against the wall. Wallpapers with an impact resistance marking will be able to endure shocks of up to one joule of energy.


Sound Absorbing Wallpaper

If you have teens in your home, you know how noisy they can be. Sure, some sound absorbing wallpaper won’t drown out the sounds of your son’s band practising but it can soften the droning noise of laptop music and hour-long chats on the phone. Look for wallpaper with deep structure that will absorb the sound waves.


Magnetic Wallpaper

Magnetic wallpaper is one of the coolest new players in the wallpaper game. Consider doing a wall in your kitchen or front hall in magnetic wallpaper so that you can hang cute notes or a weekly chore plan. Or, instead of your teen hanging their favorite band posters with sticky tape or damaging nails, do their room with some magnetic wallpaper!


Black or Whiteboard Wallpaper

Ok, we all know chalkboard paint exists, but did you know that there’s also chalkboard wallpaper? Again, a great addition to any kitchen where you put up recipes to follow or just generally give the space a comfy coffeeshop vibe.

When it comes to the whiteboard wallpaper, it’s the same concept, but there’s even more offered for kids. There are pictures your child can color in and even a world map mural to label! So fun!


Glow-in-the-Dark Wallpaper

Do you have a kid that’s scared of the dark or just want something unique for their room? Consider hanging wallpaper that glows in the dark! We have the classic starry night patterns, as well as a cute city with lit windows wallpaper.

Red Brick Wall Wallpaper Mural

Paint just can’t compete with the look of something like this red brick wallpaper mural and the character it brings to a room.

Aesthetics: New Looks in Wallpaper

In many ways, aesthetically too, paint just can’t compare with wallpaper. Paint, in most cases, can only offer monochrome, flat and, dare I say, boring walls. Choosing paint over wallpaper made sense in the past, because wallpaper used to be that stuff you see in your grandparent’s home, not to mention difficult to hang and remove. But today, wallpaper is easy and thousands of manufacturers are making cool, trendy and up-to-date designs. It’s finally wallpapers time to shine!

Historically, wallpaper designs were small, repetitive patterns that made a room feel tight and claustrophobic. This has all changed with one big trend in wallpaper right now being oversized irregular patterning. Giant motifs swimming across the wall actually give the illusion of larger walls and work great in smaller spaces. Not all motifs need be literal either. Abstract imagery is also very in-style right now with an explosion happening in watercolor and marbled looks. However, regular patterning is still around and that’s been updated as well. Today you can find many fun graphic and bold geometric patterns to add some style to your space.

Another thing wallpaper offers that paint cannot, is texture, and these days there’s a lot of selection. Of course, wallpaper can be glossy, matte or even pearlescent or covered in glitter, but there’s also the tactile side of things. Imagine the feeling on your fingertips of a wallpaper with velvet-like flocking or patterning done in real quartz sand. Many wallpapers have embossed patterning which also plays with the light and adds an unbelievable depth to the walls.

This embossing technique really adds a lot when the wallpaper is a faux finish or surface such as faux wood or plaster wallpaper; another white-hot trend in wallpaper right now. No need to nail up half of a reclaimed barn to your wall when this super convincing wallpaper is around!

Lastly, you can’t talk about contemporary wallpaper without at least mentioning wallpaper murals. These can be landscapes that fool your eyes into thinking your in a Manhattan penthouse or overlooking the Grand Canyon. These types of murals transport you to another world; to the middle of a peaceful forest or standing at the helm of a sailboat. But wallpaper murals can also be faux surfaces like a brick or wood wall, or other big non-repeating images.

Tropical Beach at Sunrise Wallpaper Mural

Feel like you never even returned from your last vacation with this tropical beach at sunrise wallpaper mural.

To Summarize

  • Wallpaper has changed and it’s the clear winner over paint.
  • Wallpaper is easy to hang and remove – just look for non-woven material!
  • Paintable wallpaper is a thing and it’s best of both worlds.
  • There are so many cool functionalities that can be found in the world of wallpaper today from impact resistance and sound absorption to magnetic, glow-in-the-dark and blackboard wallpaper.
  • Along with wallpaper’s technological improvements have also come updated wallpaper designs.
  • Current trends in wallpaper design include big irregular patterning, abstract designs and bold geometrics.
  • Wallpaper opens up a whole new world for tactile experiences with options ranging from velvet flocking to real quartz sand patterning.
  • MURALS. Create the illusion of stunning views, have your favorite super hero flying across your wall or embrace faux surfaces like concrete, brick walls or wood planking.

Are you as excited yet as we are about wallpaper? Any reservations still? We want to know! Tell us about it in the comments below!

Wallpaper vs paint pin