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Wallpaper vs. Paint

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To paint or wallpaper – that is the question

Nothing calls for a change in décor than a hint of spring (those tulips will push through any day now – I promise). But there’s a problem. He likes paint, you like paper. He wants something simple and easy. You prefer something with a little more panache. What’s it going to be?

Spelling out the pros and cons of paint and paper may help you decide the best way to liven up your dull décor and warm up your space.

Paint it

He’s got a point. There’s nothing quicker or easier to spruce up a boring wall than a fresh splash of paint, especially if it’s in a vibrant shade of Radiant Orchid or Dazzling Blue, or any of the new colours that are in style for this coming spring. Plus, it won’t cost you an arm or a leg.

Prep work is easy, especially if it was a previously painted wall. Remove all nails and any other hardware from walls. Fix any holes or dings by applying spackle and then sand so the walls are smooth before you begin. Use painter’s tape to shield the tops of baseboards and around windows to protect them from splatters. Don’t forget to spread a drop-cloth on the floor to catch paint drips. Now you’re ready to start.

Today’s all-in-one paints with primers make rolling on a new colour a snap. You can choose between water-based latex paints or oil-based alkyds and decide on a sheen or finish – would you like your paint to look flat, matte, satin, eggshell, semi-gloss or high-gloss? You can mix and match colour, rag, bag or sponge, stencil, age or crackle. Say goodbye once and for all to dull and boring walls and hello to bright and cheery, with a minimum of effort and expense.

The major disadvantage to painting lies in its messiness. You need to take care not to drip all over the floor or the furniture. Water-based latex paints are easy to remove off skin, but you will need turpentine to remove oil-based alkyd paint.

Paper your walls

Nothing beats wallpaper for the aesthetic punch and the individuality it can add to a room. It can cosy up a bedroom, lend warmth to a living room, and add character to a den. You can even experiment with only applying a border close to the ceiling, or try beadboard paintable wallpaper to give the effect of wainscoting.

With the varieties available today, the possibilities are endless.

Sure, the better quality wallpapers are expensive, but they will last five times longer than paint – up to ten years or more. And there’s no better way to camouflage walls that are not perfectly straight, uneven or chipped.

For those rooms like children’s bedrooms or the kitchen where walls are prone to getting dirty, vinyl wallpaper is a great addition. Most varieties are coated, making them easier to clean. Patterns on the wallpaper also help hide stains and scribbles.

The case against wallpaper is, of course, that it’s time-consuming and difficult to mount. It generally takes two people to align the pattern and to hold the heavy paper up as it’s being pasted on the wall. All air bubbles must be gently brushed out as well or the wallpaper will buckle and come loose, over time.

It’s also not a great idea to wallpaper bathrooms as the moisture and dampness could cause the paper to peel off.

Removing wallpaper is another extremely tedious task. The paper needs to be dampened and stripped off usually through use of a putty knife. All glue has to be removed and the surface sanded and cleaned before paint or paper can be used on the wall again.

And the winner is?

It depends entirely on you. Go for paint if you want something quick and easy. It will provide you with instant beauty and joy for a very reasonable price. Reach for the paper to give your room visual impact and a greater depth of personality, character and a more permanent look.

By Beverley Burgess Bell

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