Paint vs. Wallpaper

Asking the experts

Do you find it difficult to choose between wallpaper and paint? We have created this guide to help you with your decision and answer common questions. We spent the day with Andreas and Madeleine to help us answer these questions. They are the owners of a DIY store here in the West of Sweden called Elmelids. They have both worked in the wallpaper and paint industry for many years and are always answering these popular questions everyday, giving customers guidance on which is the best for them, giving them vast knowledge in wallpaper and paint.

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Which method takes the most time?

Most people think that wallpapering takes longer than painting and it is often forgotten that painting also requires at least two coats of different paint to ensure a good finish. We have discussed this with many decorators and they recommend to first paint a layer of primer and the second layer to be the top coat. And of course, don’t forget about the drying time between each coat of paint.

Comments from the decorator:
Painting and wallpapering takes pretty much the same time, even if you have perfectly smooth walls. What does require most work is to mask the walls before painting, which depending on the size of the room, can take some time. So with this being said, in best case, if preparing the walls beforehand is done well, wallpapering can be a faster option to choose.

Which requires the most preparation?

Preparing your walls before decorating is very important, whether you have chosen to paint or wallpaper. If you do not already have smooth walls at home, you’ll need to spackle and smooth out any holes and rough areas on the wall, otherwise, it will affect the final result. However, greater accuracy is required when painting because the smallest unevenness, for example where joints meet will appear more obvious when you have painted. 

When wallpapering, always check the color of the walls you are going to wallpaper and make sure the color difference between the walls and paper is not too big. When buying a light wallpaper, it is recommended to paint the wall beforehand if it is painted or wallpapered in a darker color.

Comments from the decorator:
If conditions are the same, there is just as much preparation involved when painting and wallpapering, if you want good results. Wallpapering can be a bit more forgiving, as it can cover small nail holes and marks in the spackle in a way that paint won’t. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts when it comes to preparing your walls, if you want good results, preparation is extremely important. You will never regret doing a good job in the first place.

How much time should be spent on preparation?

To get good results, time is key when preparing your walls. Usually we say that 75% of the overall job should be applied to preparing your walls and the remaining 25% to paint or wallpaper. If you are unsure, you can read more about this here.

Comments from the decorator:
As previously advised, there are no shortcuts when it comes to preparation. You will regret it if you didn’t do a good job in the first place. For example, if you spackle a wall and skip the sanding, every edge will appear when you put a light on.

Which is more environmentally friendly?

To limit the impact on the environment all our murals are printed on demand, which means we do not manufacture large quantities that are stored in the warehouse and therefore do not throw materials unnecessarily away. Printed on non-woven paper, which we are proud to say is also FSC certified. The entire chain, from production to finished product is also 100% free of harmful substances. 

Today, you can find both eco-labelled and allergy-friendly paint at your local DIY store, so it’s not possible to make a correct comparison of paint and wall murals from this perspective.

Pros and cons

Wallpapering

No restrictions on pattern as we create wall murals according to your wishes.
If you have a smooth walls already, wallpapering is usually faster.
No material waste as our murals are produced on demand.
The washability is limited, any domestic dirt or water stains can be wiped with a damp cloth or sponge.
If the wall mural is damaged, this can be difficult to fix, as color changes may occur on new murals being printed.
May require a paint of coat under the wallpaper.
Comments from the decorator:
There are no restrictions at all with wall murals, you can create whatever you want, of course you can do this with paint but it will require time and knowledge. Many choose not to wallpaper as they think it can be difficult to do and believe that a patterned wallpaper can restrict the rest of their home decor. We think people should be more daring and decide to have more murals in their home, to create a special feeling in a way that paint cannot. And of course in many cases, wallpapering can be easier than painting.

Painting

Paint is often cheaper than wallpaper.
A painted wall allows you to easily wipe or paint again if any accidents do occur.
If you are not satisfied with the result, it is easy to repaint.
Painting requires a nearly perfect foundation for the results to be good.
It takes longer than you think, many do not think about the number of coats or the drying time in between each coat of paint.
Matt paint is sensitive.
Comments from the decorator:
Many people think it is easier and faster to paint, but that isn’t always the case. Good preparation is always required, but above all else, all floors and furniture must be covered and a good masking job is also important, this is something wallpaper does not require. It can also be difficult to get the same character in a room when comparing painted walls with wallpapered walls, but it is of course up to each one’s taste. We really like the combination of paint and wallpaper in the same room.