Let’s face it, walls make up a big part of any room – especially if you count the ceiling as the 5th wall! Paint and wallpaper provide two very different ways to decorate walls. In today’s post Cindy and Terrie share their opinions on these methods.
Cindy Gives Wallpaper a Thumbs Down
I’ve had wallpaper in my home – once in the kitchen and once in the bedroom – and I’ll never do it again. I inherited a blue and white toile print wallpaper in the bedroom of our very first house. Removing it was a miserably tedious process but my husband and I did away with it and highlighted the bedroom with a grassclothwallpaper that added a wonderful texture and color to the room in addition to looking great with the hardwood floors. When we remodeled the outdated kitchen we selected a contemporary patterned wallpaper to break up the the sea of medium toned wood cabinets. So when we’re talking wallpaper, I’ve been there – I’ve done that – and it looked good. But I’ve had my fill.
When given the choice between wallpaper and paint I now pick paint every time. Here’s why:Photo by Velo Steve, Flickr
- Wallpaper application is more difficult than painting.
- Wallpaper is harder to clean and maintain (especially textures like grasscloth that gather dust, glossy or foiled papers that show every bump or scratch, flocked papers that kids love to pick at, etc.)
- Wallpaper easily stains – so kids with greasy fingers or crayons are not a good combination.
- Wallpaper fades from sun exposure so some walls can end up looking pastel while the other walls are bright.
- Wallpaper is a pain to remove. At some point it has to come down and that means using chemicals to dissolve the glue or renting a steamer to heat the glue. Either way you’ll have to pierce the wallpaper in order to optimize the effectiveness of these two methods.
- Wallpaper scares home buyers – either because the wallpaper is not their style, it is outdated, it is in poor condition or the task of removing it intimidates them.
- Wallpaper can rip and is difficult to patch, especially if you don’t already have extra paper.
- Wallpaper patterns that are trendy today will quickly date a house – remember mylar paper and flocked designs (although it’s coming back into vogue)?
- Wallpaper can’t simply be painted over, it either needs to be removed or you have to sand or fill the seams so they don’t show. Even then there’s a risk the paint will bubble over the paper, sometimes even a “no texture” paper looks textured as the shape of the printed design shows through the paint or, even worse, the color from the wallpaper bleeds through the paint.
- Wallpaper is more expensive.
Compared to wallpaper, paint provides a low maintenance, easy to apply and cheap way to decorate walls. It is easier to clean and if you do end up witha stubborn stain of some sort you can easily paint over it. With paint your walls can be a solid color, painted and glazed for faux texture, striped, polka dotted, checker board, plaid or a painted mural. You can stencil shapes and words on your wall with paint, paint a border or create a chair rail. And if you tire of it next month, you just need to buy a gallon of paint to quickly and inexpensively change the look.
Behind the short-lived “pretty” face of wallpaper is the ugly reality of application, upkeep, cost and removal. I’m definitely a fan of paint and not wallpaper.
Terrie Gives Wallpaper a Thumbs Up
I love the restrained use of wallpaper! It’s now enjoying a resurgence in popularity and the pattern choice is remarkably large and varied. I agree that like any design element, it goes in and out of vogue and the use of it may date the room in the future. Avocado appliances were once the height of design ‘cool’ but eventually came to represent a very out of fashion era. Deep shag carpets, sunken conversation pits and burgandy/green color schemes have all come and gone. However, if we never did anything because it might date our rooms, we’d all be living in bland white boxes filled with bland white furnishings. I vote for Banish the Bland……
Like Cindy, I have put up wallpaper in my home, I have stenciled a 20′ long wall mural (that took weeks and lots of aching muscles), I’ve successfully painted horizontal stripes (loved those!), tried faux finishes (usually with an amateurish result), etc. Overall, wallpaper was probably the easiest of these DIY projects – probably because I just did an accent wall, had a helping hand, and chose patterns easy to match. However, when I was tired of the wallpaper – I did paint over it (a no-no, I know)…..of course it took many coats because I was too lazy to prime properly, but eventually the pattern was covered.
This is a client’s home where I used just a little wallpaper to highlight the arched inset at each end of the main hallway. A solid color accent paint or faux finish could have accomplished the same thing, but the luxurious sheen and texture of the wallpaper made it more of a designer finish. Sometimes it’s just worth the extra effort and money to have a beautiful designer look.
Another client wanted this soft English garden look in their guest room. A major contributing factor to achieving this look is the gorgeous floral wallpaper (I think it was Ralph Lauren). Certain styles of decor cry out for a little wallpaper: country, English garden, French country, Tuscan.
There are a few positives to consider when thinking about adding wallpaper.
- There have been some strides in making wallpaper more user friendly. Some of the new styles use easy to remove glues and there are enzyme based products for easier removal of old wallpaper.
- There are lines of textured wallpapers designed for painting and repainting when you want to change your color scheme.
- If you have children that put greasy fingers or crayon marks on your wall, it doesn’t matter whether you have paint or wallpaper, it’s not easy to get them clean.
- Wallpaper can help define a style or period.
- If you have an older home, the pattern or texture of wallpaper can help disguise damaged or uneven walls.
- Wallpaper will give you a big bang for your bucks. Even if you only utilize it in a little area, you’ll get lots of visual impact – whether color, pattern or texture.
- Wallpaper comes in a range of prices – even the trendiest looks can be affordable or outrageously expensive. Watch for sales, but if you have your heart set on one of the pricier styles, consider introducing wallpaper in smaller doses than a great big wall. Use it on the inside back of a bookcase or china hutch, frame it for a graphic art piece or cut it up and apply it to a budget mirror frame for a great designer detail.
- For some how to measure instructions visit: WallpaperYourWorld.com or the HGTV site for how-to videos in measuring for and removing wallpaper.
For me, the benefits of the wise selection and use of wallpaper outweigh the disadvantages (the biggest one is the removal process). I love the high design style that can be achieved with just a little touch of dramatic wallpaper. (I’d suggest avoiding cutesy patterns like teapots in the kitchen or ducks in a nursery – instead choose something more generic and long lasting.) For those of you brave souls who want to try something new in 2010, I say ‘go for it’ and try a wallpaper project.
What Do You Think?
Have you installed wallpaper in your home or have you inherited it when you bought a house? Are you happy with it? Do you love it or hate it? Have you ever had to remove wallpaper? Share your experiences and results (good or bad) with us. If you have an opinion about wallpaper, feel free to weigh in – leave us a comment below.