Painting vs. Wallpaper

If you’re tired of the boring white walls in your home, you have two primary options for dressing them up: you can paint the walls, or you can apply wallpaper. That’s right – believe it or not, wallpaper is back in style. But just because its reputation has recovered doesn’t necessarily make it a better option than paint. Consider the pros and cons of painting vs. wallpaper to help you make the best design decision for your home.

Preparation and Application

You must prepare your walls to ensure a durable finished product. Both painting and applying wallpaper require you to clean the surface and fill cracks or irregularities.

  • Wallpaper: Before applying wallpaper over paint, you must prime or sand it. For the best results, you should also horizontally cross line the wall with lining paper. Then, you must attach the wallpaper with paste. Matching patterned edges and ensuring a flat, even installation is vital for aesthetically pleasing results.
  • Paint: Simply prime the wall if painting over a darker color. Also, plan on using at least two coats for an even finish.
  • Bottom line: Painting requires less preparation and is easier to apply than wallpaper. For this reason, you may want to reserve wallpaper for smaller accent areas.


The aesthetic of painting vs. wallpaper differs greatly.

  • Wallpaper: You have limitless colors, patterns, textures and sheens to choose from, so your walls look just the way you want.
  • Paint: While your color options are vast, paint patterns are limited. However, you can always paint a mural, use color blocking, implement an ombre paint technique, or apply Benjamin Moore’s ben® chalkboard paint or Notable™ dry erase paint for unlimited creativity in kids’ rooms, playrooms and
  • Bottom line: Wallpaper instantly makes your walls interesting, while paint requires a bit more imagination.


The lifespan of painting vs. wallpaper is an important consideration.

  • Wallpaper: As long as it’s applied correctly, wallpaper holds up well to wear and tear. Many varieties also tolerate scrubbing. However, wallpaper may peel if used in kitchens, bathrooms and other high-humidity environments.
  • Paint: Satin and eggshell sheens used on interior walls tend to hold up well. When they get dirty, scrubbing usually does the trick. You can also easily patch scratches and scrapes.
  • Bottom line: Paint and wallpaper both hold up well, as long as you apply and maintain them correctly.


What if you want to redo the walls again someday?

  • Wallpaper: Removing existing wallpaper is tedious. You need chemicals or stripping tools, and you must be careful not to damage the wall.
  • Paint: There’s no need to remove existing paint when redoing the walls. Simply apply primer first when painting over a dark color.
  • Bottom line: Pick your wallpaper carefully or stick with paint to avoid the chore of removing wallpaper in the future.

Whether you decide paint or wallpaper is right for you, the Paint Centers has everything you need to complete your upcoming project, including high-quality paint from Benjamin Moore, one of the most celebrated and reputable brands in the industry. Visit our website for more painting tips, or stop by one of our Michigan locations to stock up on painting or wallpapering supplies.