Wallpaper Vs. Paint: Finding What Works In Your Chicagoland Home

Wallpaper is a major interior design trend right now, here in Chicagoland and across the country. 

It’s hardly surprising that this iconic piece of home decor is having a moment. Wallpaper has existed in some form or another for hundreds of years. Over the centuries, it passed from being a sign of wealth and royalty in European palaces, to an affordable and enduring way for just about everyone to bring color and texture into their homes. 

After the rise of mid-century modernism in the mid 20th century, wallpaper slowly fell out of fashion over the course of the 1980s and ‘90s. But more recently, a new generation of artists and designers have started experimenting with cutting edge printing technologies, bold colors and patterns, and new application techniques — bringing wallpaper back into fashion with a vengeance.

In fact, consumer searches for “bold print wallpaper” shot up more than 401 percent on Pinterest between 2018 and 2019. That’s a big leap, and a sure sign that a home decor trend has arrived. 

Of course, there’s another longstanding interior design favorite that is still popular in households here in Chicagoland — paint! Homeowners and designers are still turning to this reliable, versatile household staple to add the finishing touches to all sorts of rooms.

When it comes to covering your walls, it’s easy to be torn between these two trendy options. Debating whether to go with a fresh coat of paint or a new sheet of wallpaper for your space? Ultimately, it’s all going to come down to your personal style, budget, and preferences. 

To help inspire your choice, here’s a look at some of the key things to know about these popular interior finishes: 


Wallpaper is a powerful way to add dimension to a space, and it’s a popular aesthetic choice for all sorts of households. Many young homeowners are turning to wallpaper bring bold color and eclectic patterns into a living room, for example. In other cases, wallpaper can be a great way to add a dramatic statement to an entryway, or create a rich, elegant feeling in a bedroom or study. 

What are some of the advantages and drawbacks of wallpaper? Here are a few points to keep in mind: 

  • Wallpaper is incredibly versatile. There are many, many different types of wallpaper, including different styles and materials ranging from vinyl or vinyl-coated, to metallic foils, to woven fabrics. Some wallpapers are textured and embossed, others are flat or glossy. It may take some time and research to find the style that speaks to you and works for your space. 
  • Wallpaper is great for murals, patterns, and graphics. Most commonly, interior designers turn to wallpapers for a big, dramatic pop, rather than adding a subtle finish or solid color to a room. 
  • Most wallpaper materials are fairly durable, but are also susceptible to wear and tear. HomeAdvisor estimates that wallpaper can last for up to 15 years — but also notes that it can peel in moist areas, such as the kitchen or bathroom. Some materials may also be sensitive to excess light or heat, and can rip or fray over time. 
  • How do you want to install it? Just as it comes in many different forms, patterns, and textures, wallpaper can also be applied in several different ways. DIY wallpaper options include self-adhesive wallpapers, which come with peel-and-stick backings, and pre-treated wallpapers, which come coated with adhesive paste. More traditional wallpapers may require a significant amount of pasting to apply, which may be best left to a professional. If you’re hanging wallpaper solo, it’s important to take your time and be careful, as this material isn’t always the most forgiving if you measure improperly, put up the paper out of alignment, or fail to line up the seams. 
  • How are you going to remove it? Some wallpapers can be removed in strips, or peeled back with the application of water or a chemical treatment. Other varieties of wallpaper may be extremely difficult to remove. As Houzz puts it, “If you’re renting a place or like to change things up often, this is an important consideration and can affect the type of wallpaper you choose.”


Available in an endless array of colors and finishes, paint is a classic way to cover a wall and bring just about any room together. Whether opting for a calming and neutral shade in the bedroom, a vivid color in the bathroom, or a striking accent in the living room, paint is a durable and reliable standby. It’s easy to take this popular interior design element for granted, and overlook its amazing benefits, and occasional downsides. 

Considering the pros and cons of painting your walls? Here’s what to consider before you crack open that first can: 

  • Paint is often a better choice for solid colors. House paints are available in a wide variety of colors, which go in and out of fashion like many other interior design elements. With that being said, paint is often thought of as a great way to bring a block of color into a room. It can be more difficult, or even require specialized skills, to create a mural, pattern, or design out of paint. 
  • There are many different types of finishes available. Paint doesn’t have to be boring or drab. There are many different paints available with a variety of finishes, from shiny and glossy to matte and flat. You can also use different additives and application techniques to bring unique textures to a paint job, though this may be a project best left to a professional painter. 
  • Paint is durable and easier to touch up over time. Most home paints are created to last for 5 to 15 years, according to HomeAdvisor. Paint can also be treated and sealed, making it resistant to moisture and heat. At the same time, painted walls can be touched up with very little effort if marks or damage ever occur. Paint is also easier to swap out than many forms of wallpaper, if you’re someone who likes to regularly change up the look of a space. 
  • Installation is relatively straightforward. Painting is a favorite DIY project of many homeowners, though the cost of materials — including paint, primer, brushes, tarps, drip trays, and masking tape — can add up surprisingly quickly. Paint can be very forgiving as you’re applying it, but it’s important to be careful and take great care to avoid getting paint on floors, furniture, or glass surfaces. Many professional companies can also handle house painting duties, if you’d prefer to leave it to the experts. 
  • Paint can be difficult to remove. In many cases, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to strip paint without causing damage to the surface underneath. Instead of removing paint, the most common approach is to simply paint over one layer of paint with another, often with a coat of primer in between to create a clean work surface. 

Want to Talk With a Chicagoland Real Estate Expert?

In the end, deciding between wallpaper, paint, or a combination of the two is up to you — but it can always help to have some insight from a knowledgeable real estate pro! Your local Baird & Warner agent can be a great sounding board, whether you’re looking for a new home or getting your current property ready to sell. For sellers, Baird & Warner agents know what Chicagoland homeseekers are looking for right now, and what it takes to make your home stand out above other listings on the market.

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