Wallpaper vs Paint: Which is better?

Are you constantly debating over whether or not wallpaper or paint is right? Or maybe you actually need both? Deciding what to put on your walls is a big decision, because if you make the wrong choice, you’ll end up with an expensive mistake that you have to literally face everyday!

Fret not, we’ve broken down the key factors of both so you can choose which is right for you.

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1. Durability

Wallpaper:  According to our wallpaper expert, if the installation is done correctly, a good quality wallpaper with vinyl coating can last for more than 10 years. You can easily wipe most wallpapers clean too, and it stands up better than paint to general wear and tear. However, high exposure to moisture will cause the edges to peel over time (such as in bathrooms and kitchens). Also, if there are kids around the house, inspect the edges every once in a while before the tiny fingers start peeling it off. 

RFN WallCoverings . Source.

Paint: It is available in a lot of varieties and for many different purposes. For instance, matte enamel paint is suitable for indoor usage while acrylic latex paint is perfect for outdoor use. Different amount and type of solvent, binders, pigments and additives will create a different quality paint with different advantages and durability. Semi-gloss sheen is typically used for trim and doors as they last longer. Generally, paint is not as durable as wallpaper, more prone to chips and fading, but it is easier to remove (or just paint over), meaning it is perfect for those who like to change up their interior style often. 

Verdict : Wallpaper wins in durability, but it is more difficult to remove. Paint is less durable and easier to remove, good for those who like to change interior styles often.


2. Installation process

Paint: Just like when you are in school, everyone and anyone can paint. But that doesn’t mean we all make good painters. It is possible to just do it yourself, but if you think having a gallon of paint, a brush, a roller and a ladder are all it takes to do the work, you are underestimating the task. Knowledge on the step-by-step, type of primer and paint to be used, getting the right equipment and tools as well as a high commitment are required to get the job done.

Wallpaper: The installation process might require lesser steps and tools as compared to painting up the whole wall, and is obviously less messy. Thus on the surface, one might think that installing the wallpaper might be easier too. However, installing a wallpaper with a repetitive design would be a bit tricky as every end must match with each other to allow the design to look seamless. Not to forget, the installer must have eyes for details in marking the areas where the paper needs to be cut to go around the wall plugs and ensuring there are no air bubbles behind the paper.


Verdict: Wallpaper is less messy and easier to apply, but requires attention to detail and a careful hand. Paint requires more work, and preferably a professional or knowledge on the task.

3. Design selection

Paint:  It’s available in a large variety of hues, sheen and quality. If it is applied with the usual painting technique, the result will be pretty much similar – a smooth and clean looking coloured wall. But for those who are experts in manipulating the texture of the paint with other painting techniques, they might be able to create an endless amount of designs with the paint. Sponging, stencilling and graining are some of the techniques used to create designs using paint.

(Read: How to Create Decorative Paint Techniques)

Image of a painted textured wall. Source.

Wallpaper:  Comes in various design, finishes and quality too. Traditional paper and embossed vinyl are the most commonly used wallpaper design that comes in usual floral, textured and abstract designs. Besides that, the latest trend for wallpaper is 3D wallpaper design. If you have a limited budget to design an exposed brick wall in your living room, the 3D brick wall design wallpaper is a good alternative to having the similar look of a real brick wall in the living room. And at a much cheaper price, of course.

Verdict:  Both wallpaper and paint have a wide variety of designs, although wallpaper is the easier and cheaper choice for patterned surfaces.

4. Cost

The average price to install a wallpaper is approximately RM1500- RM2000 for a 500 sq ft bedroom. In comparison, a paint job for a 500 sq ft bedroom costs on average RM1800 – RM 2000. The difference between the two is not very big, possibly making your decision that much harder!

However, the cost of a wall treatment not only depends on the actual colour or design you’re putting on the wall, there are also preparation costs to think about.

Some of the additional costs that you should be asking the installer are:


  • Peeling of old wallpaper
  • Scraping (heat or dry)
  • Sanding
  • Price per roll
  • Amount of roll needed
  • Price per unit
  • Labour / installation charge
  • Type of glue to be used


  • Number of layers needed
  • Amount of paint (gallon / can) needed
  • Price per unit
  • Labour charge

Verdict: The cost is almost the same, depending on quality of paint/wallpaper. Wallpaper is more cost-effective in the long term as it lasts longer.

Need an interior designer, painter, or wallpaper expert?


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3 thoughts on “Wallpaper vs Paint: Which is better?”

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