The War of the Walls

Paint and wallpaper Bedroom Paint and Wallpaper

Walls, they're everywhere. We walk and drive past them. We live in between them. We hang pictures and sentimental trinkets on them, and we dress them up with seasonal lights and decorations. We see walls from the moment we roll out of bed until we climb back into it in the evening. Walls are everywhere, and what they look like does matter. That's why we debate between wallpapering and painting. The War of the Walls is no minor engagement.

Hallway Painting

The appearance of your walls says a lot about you. In fact, one of the first things new homeowners often do is rip off wallpaper, slather on paint, and turn those "un-them" walls into personality mirroring works of art. How we dress up our walls says a lot about our character and our tastes. But what's the best wall dressing? Should you paste on wallpaper or invest in paint? Is it a do-it-yourself project or something best left to a pro?


The Battle of Paint vs. Wallpaper

To wallpaper, or not to wallpaper? That, dear reader, is the question.

Over the years, you've probably heard some wallpaper horror stories. A lot of homeowners instantly opt for paint over wallpaper, deeming it the simplest solution. In most cases, this opinion is correct. Paint is fairly easy to choose and apply, and it's certainly easier to change if five years from today you decide you hate those chocolate accents.

Before you pick the winner of the battle, though, let's make the pros and cons clear. Here's what you need to know about paint:

  • Pro: Damaged walls won't stop paint. All you need to do is spackle away imperfections 24 hours prior to painting.
  • Pro: Paint is usually cheaper than wallpaper.
  • Con: Damaged walls often chip, and they don't stand up well in high traffic areas.
  • Con: Sometimes you'll need to strip off preexisting wall dressing or prime heavily before painting.

Wallpaper has some strong pros. Here's the low down:

  • Pro: It's durable. It withstands the onslaught of children and high traffic areas like a trooper.
  • Pro: It can house a pattern that would otherwise be a nightmare to reproduce with paint.
  • Con: It's not great in high moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms as moisture can make it peel.
  • Con: Wallpaper is generally more expensive, and predicting how much you'll need can be tough for DIY projects.
Family Room

The truth is there's no bad decision. Paint and wallpaper are both good options. The real pickle is whether you're set on a DIY project or open to calling in reinforcements.

Frontal Attack vs. Calling in Reinforcements

If you're like me, you're not one to shy away from a DIY project. In fact, you'll likely turn it into a full-fledged frontal attack that just might involve the whole family for some weekend bonding time. You can tackle wallpapering and painting on your own. It's not rocket science. But be forewarned that of these two wall dressing, wallpapering presents the greater challenge.

Wallpaper has been around for thousands of years. It dates back to China over 200 years B.C. It's a classic wall dressing, and it can really make any room a masterpiece. However, despite its age, wallpaper is still a pain to hang, and just getting to the hanging stage is not for the faint of heart.

Wallpapered Room

Should you be one of the lucky ones with an untouched, fresh wall, you'll only have to deal with the common problems of wallpapering, like running out of paste, over rolling the seam edges, and spending obscene amounts of time matching those seams perfectly. A little ingenuity can solve these issues.

However, if you're staring at walls with existing wallpaper, then you're staring down the barrel of entirely different gun. That existing wallpaper has to come off, and hiring a professional just might be a good call.

You see, not all wallpaper is created equal. Some have a decorative outer surface with an under-lying backing. The outer surface could be foil or have an acrylic finish. Older wallpapers are notorious for having a vinyl surface. Bottom line, if the surface isn't porous, removal will become complicated because the solvent will not absorb through the outer surface to the glued under-layer.

Painting can present some challenges. Wallpaper removal may still be an issue prior to painting. And if you're painting over some pretty dramatic shades of existing paint, you'll need to brush up on proper priming techniques.

Your Home, Your Walls

Any wall-dressing project can be a do-it-yourselfer. The trick is accurately predicting the scope of the project and being prepared. If you're determined to DIY, be sure to check out our DIY painting tips and helpful wallpapering tips.

If you're ready to make your walls your own with no trial and error hassle, a reliable professional just may be the way to go. Either way, don't forget to share your success stories. We'd love to hear your triumphs in the War of the Walls!

Posted by: TrustedPros
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