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The Best Ways to Brighten Walls: Wallpaper vs. Paint

The Best Ways to Brighten Walls:
Wallpaper vs. Paint


The color and designs that adorn a room’s walls are huge contributing factors in the overall feel of the space. And unless you’re going for a sleek minimalist look, white walls generally don’t add much to a design. If your walls are feeling just a bit “blah,” don’t despair! Paint and wallpaper both offer plenty of ways to brighten up your space and add some character.

Paint Quote 1

But which one should you use? Well, that depends on a few different things, such as:

The Varieties Available

Obviously one of the most important things to consider is which medium will give you the appearance you’re hoping to achieve. Are you looking for a solid color, or were you thinking patterns, designs, or different textures?

In terms of solid colors, both wallpaper and paint are available in a full spectrum of colors that can change the tone of any space. However, paint colors can usually be mixed or adjusted as needed, so they offer more customization than wallpaper.

Once you begin looking at patterns or designs though, wallpaper really shines. While paint offers possibilities as limitless as your imagination, they will probably require quite a bit of effort and skill to implement. Wallpaper allows you to add detailed or intricate motifs without requiring extra work, and can simultaneously add color and texture, creating three dimensional effects that can add a lot of interest to a space. This medium offers a huge variety of patterns, textures, and materials ranging from foils, suede, and grass cloth to embossing, pearlescent sheens and sparkly undertones.

Botanical Wallpaper
ColorHouse Paint Swatch Image
Blue Lattice Wallpaper
Paint Quote 2

Ease of Application

When it comes to actually applying your new wall coverings, paint is the easier and more straightforward of these two options. Wall paint can be simply rolled or brushed directly on to most walls. And if you decide you want a change later, a new color can always be layered on top for a fresh appearance! The downsides are that it can be a bit messy to apply, and it will take a while to properly prepare a space by taping off molding, edges, and windows, and securing drop cloths across the floors.

Wallpaper installation involves precise measuring and cutting before pasting the paper to your walls, so it can be something of a long and arduous task. There are now some varieties of pre-pasted wallpapers on the market, which can help simplify matters, but the installation process may still be something to consider before purchasing paper for a space with lots of angles. Also note that when you eventually need to update or replace your wallcoverings, you will need to completely strip your wallpaper off to ensure that future wall coverings look good.

ColorHouse Clay Paint
Floral Wallpaper

Durability & Needed Repairs

Wall coverings are remarkably durable, and both wallpaper and paint will last for years without need of any real maintenance or upkeep.

You can expect most brands of paint to look good for at least 25 years if not in high trafficked areas. A few brands such as Colorhouse even offer a lifetime guarantee. If the need does arise, this medium is also quite simple to touch up; any stains, chips, or other damage, can simply be brushed over with the same color to make it good as new. While most people will want to change up the look of their space long before the paint deteriorates, the ability to easily fix blemishes is great in spaces that will be host to pets, kids, or messy hobbies.

You can count on wallpaper looking good for at least 10 years, although most will last even longer. However, that timeline does have a bit of a caveat; wallpaper does not do well in humid environments, and depending on the type of adhesive used and the levels of humidity, it can eventually begin to peel at edges and seams.

Although most people don’t find that wallpaper needs to be repaired very often (if ever) it can be patched fairly simply. When completing the project, just make sure to save any extra paper so that you never have to hunt down a matching pattern.

Soft Grey Blue Wall Paint
Blue Leaf Pattern Wallpaper

So, Which Is The Right Choice for Your Space?

If practicality is the biggest factor for you, consider whether you will be applying the wall covering yourself, how often you may need to touch it up, or how long it may be before you want to change the look of your room.

Alternately, if you are purely considering appearance, elaborate patterns, textured walls, or more formal looks, are more easily achieved with wallpaper. But if your design calls for a solid color or simple pattern, paint is the best choice for versatility, easy application, and simple touch up.

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