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The Great Home Design Debate: Paint VS Wallpaper 

The age-old question of home design: to paint or wallpaper? There are certain advantages and pitfalls to both options, and the right choice will depend on location, budget and preferences. Here is our quick guide to selecting between the two materials.

home design paintImage: Houzz – Endeavour Building

Paying close attention to the location and the practicalities of your home design are paramount when deciding between wallpaper and paint. If a large, fully-wallpapered room feels too gaudy for your ideal living area, experiment with feature walls in smaller spaces. Establishing fun ‘pops’ of pattern and colour in small pockets of your house, such as the study or cloak-room, can contribute a whimsical, contemporary and exploratory feel to your home. If this quirky splash of colour or pattern is the look you decide upon, try complimenting your wallpaper with a classic paint-colour like charcoal, creamy white or beige.

While modern wallpaper is fairly durable, it is unsuited to rooms with high levels of humidity. Given this, it is advisable to avoid wall-papering kitchen and bathroom spaces. Water-proof paints fare well in these settings. Of course, it is possible to restore and replace damaged or peeling sections of wallpaper. However, this re-installation will come at a cost to both your bank and the room’s aesthetic as it is difficult to perfectly match new wallpapering with existing patterns. In most cases, the entire room will need to be re-papered to compensate for one damaged section.

home designImage: Houzz – J & J Design Group

Wallpaper is very much in-vogue and its current trendiness has led to an explosion of choice in styles, patterns and textures. Wallpaper can entirely transform your home design. Fun, experimental patterns can easily modernise a space. Meanwhile, stripes are a timeless choice that works to both visually expand a room and maintain a classic, elegant feel.

However, if you have a specific colour-scheme in mind, paint might be the optimal medium for you. Most paint brands will be able to customise a colour to suit your preferences.

Developments in wall-paper technology have greatly improved the durability of the modern product. Specifically, the vinyl varieties are a great option for young families, as their ‘wipe-clean’ surface can withstand handprints, indoor ball-sports and crayon marks.

Meanwhile, paint can chip and mark easily but is relatively inexpensive to ‘touch-up’. Young families should also enquire about new paint technologies that allow you to scrub marks off the wall. It is advisable to use waterproof paint in areas of high humidity, although slightly more expensive, they will reduce your eventual maintenance cost. Visually, however, the finish of this paint is course and less aesthetically pleasing.

home design paintImage: Houzz – Martha O’Hara Interiors

If you are planning to remain in your home for the long-term, the price difference between wallpapering and painting will even-out over time. At face value, it is cheaper to paint a space, particularly a large surface. If you do opt for a paint-job, it is crucial to accept the higher cost of a quality brand. Cheap paint, generally, does not have the opacity and coverage of the superior product. The extra layers required to cover the wall, in addition to the increased frequency of maintenance, will result in a cost similar to the quality paint. Additionally, the polished finish of high-quality paint will lift your overall home design and contribute to your home’s resale value.

A similar idea applies to wall-paper. Opting for a cheap product will cost you down the track. Lower-quality wallpaper is easy to identify by its brittle, almost transparent finish. Aside from maintenance concerns, this will detract from the intention of wallpaper in making your home feel plush and extravagant.

For the long-term, wallpaper is the more economical option. Excepting rooms with high humidity levels, this material boasts a longer life-span and will require less maintenance than paint. It might be advisable to shoulder the upfront costs of wallpaper in order to avoid the expense of repainting every three to five years.

Are you in the process of building a new home? Contact our team on 1800 184 284 for a free consultation and simplify the process! You can also book a call at a time suitable for you.

Nikki Sitch

Nikki is completing a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English and Creative Writing. When not studying, she is rearranging her share-house according to the latest interior trends.


iBuildNew is the market leading aggregator dedicated to residential home construction and land development. As an independent platform, iBuildNew helps Australians identify and compare new home designs, house and land packages and land estates. It’s the smart way home buyers, who are considering a new build, can find the ideal options to match their individual needs. Home building is a big decision, we make sure you get it right.

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