Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Affiliate Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you’re the type of person who wants to make a statement with your home, you may opt to use wallpaper on your walls. Of course, any unique, quality, and eye-catching design element can cost a bit to make a reality.
Wallpaper can be quite costly, and here are some reasons why:
- The material the wallpaper is made of can be costly.
- Some manufacturing processes are more expensive.
- Expensive wallpaper tends to be wider and thicker.
- Wallpaper is more durable than paint.
- More features make wallpaper more costly.
- Some brand names are more expensive.
- Preparation before papering can be extensive.
- Professional installation is recommended.
- “Repairing” wallpaper means re-papering the whole wall.
This article will explain each reason in further detail. You may also wonder if using wallpaper is worth the cost, how it compares to paint, and what alternatives you might want to consider. This article helps answer each of those questions.
1. The Material the Wallpaper Is Made of Can Be Costly
Wallpaper isn’t just made of paper. There are different materials to choose from. The most common and easy to find is vinyl which is durable and easy to install and clean. Anything other than vinyl wallpaper usually comes with a higher price tag:
This is handwoven and made of natural materials, making it more expensive. It’s one way to add a natural texture to your space. This type of wallpaper can last long and are usually paintable too.
However, grasscloth wallpaper should be kept away from water and moisture as these can easily leave watermarks. So, it’s best not to choose this type for a bathroom, your kitchen, or a kid’s room.
Foil or Metallic Wallpaper
Like the name says, foil wallpaper is made of a thin metallic sheet with a paper backing. It’s one way to add some bling and sparkle to your walls.
Its reflective surface does, however, highlight any imperfections in your wall. So it’s best not to skip good wall prep and lining paper. It can also accumulate scratches quickly.
Metallic wallpaper is also made of non-breathable material. This makes it easy for mold to grow underneath.
This Art3D Self-Adhesive Metal Backsplash Peel and Stick from Amazon.com can be great for your kitchen. It comes in self-adhesive tile sheets, making it easy to install. It also has a modern design.
This wallpaper has raised, soft-to-the-touch patterns made of velvet. Flock is another way to add texture to your wall space.
During installation, you have to take care to vacuum any stray flock particles that could create unwanted bumps on the surface of your wallpaper. This type is also hard to keep clean as strong chemicals and scrubbing can affect its appearance quickly.
If you are looking for chic wallpaper, check out the Graham & Brown Skulls Wallpaper available on Amazon.com. It has skull prints to match your unique taste.
This is made of fabric panels that you can stick to your walls using liquid starch instead of your traditional wallpaper paste or adhesive. It can cleanly easily be removed with a damp sponge and is breathable, hence not susceptible to mold.
Installation can be tricky as you need to stretch the fabric while sticking it to the wall. However, too much stretching can warp the design.
Fabric wallpaper can also turn yellow and discolor when exposed to too much heat and sunlight.
It’s also not suitable for areas exposed to lots of moisture, like the bathroom or kitchen, since its adhesive can dissolve and result in your wallpaper peeling or coming off.
This type of wallpaper is quite rare. If you can get your hands on it, it can be an excellent way to bring a sense of nature inside your home without having to commit to more expensive, more permanent wood finishes.
Wood wallpaper is made of wood veneer.
2. Some Manufacturing Processes Are More Expensive
Wallpaper can either be hand-printed or machine-printed. Hand-made designs are labor-intensive, so they cost more than machine-printed ones.
- Block-printed wallpaper ($$$$): Block printing uses a stamp to print the design/ pattern onto the paper by hand. The more colors a design uses, the longer it takes, as each color needs a new block and several hours of drying time in between.
- Hand-screened wallpaper ($$$$): This method is also done by hand. Here the paper is laid out on a long table. A mesh with the design is placed on it. Ink is then poured on top and smoothed out with a squeegee. Like block-printed wallpaper, each layer of color needs to dry before the next is applied.
- Surface-printed wallpaper ($$$): This is the first mechanical manufacturing process introduced for making wallpaper. It’s block printing but with a machine instead of a person. It’s a wet-on-wet process, too, so that eliminates the long waiting time for layers to dry. Though it’s cheaper because it’s mechanized and takes less time, patterns are difficult to duplicate because each color is mixed through the estimation of the human eye.
- Rotary-screen-printed wallpaper ($$$): Rich colors are printed onto the paper with a roller, essentially making it the mechanized version of hand-screened wallpaper. Similarly, it’s also a dry-on-dry process, so it takes time and more ink than your hand-screened method.
- Gravure-printed wallpaper ($$): It’s similar to the rotary screen, but the roller is more sophisticated. It’s made of copper laser-cut to different depths depending on the design. Gravure printing allows different amounts of ink to be transferred on the paper, depending on the required shade. Though expensive to produce, the roller is long-lasting, durable, and can create fascinating and detailed designs.
- Digitally-printed wallpaper ($): Digital printing is the most cost-effective method to print wallpaper designs. Modern technology has allowed us to print the most detailed and intricate designs. Anything you can think of can be printed and stuck on your wall.
Still, quality can vary, and you can end up with lousy wallpaper or pixelated designs if you have a low-quality image or a bad printer.
3. Expensive Wallpaper Tends To Be Wider or Thicker
To put it simply, broader or thicker wallpaper needs more material, hence, the higher cost.
Higher quality wallpaper also tends to be thicker to cover some of the imperfections in your wall without the bumps or cracks showing through the paper. Being thicker also means that a professional paperhanger can “bury” the seams of each roll so that it’s almost invisible.
They also tend to be wider, not just thicker. These make it difficult for regular or inexperienced wallpaper hangers to install, so you’ll need to hire a professional to get the best results.
4. Wallpaper Is More Durable Than Paint
Wallpaper generally lasts longer than paint and is more durable. When rooms with moisture are avoided and wallpaper is applied and maintained correctly, it can last up to 15 years. Paint typically lasts up to 10 years and may need retouching sooner than that.
Wallpaper does not crack or chip, unlike paint when it is damaged and can withstand high traffic as well.
5. More Features Make Wallpaper More Costly
Different features make wallpaper easier to install, maintain, or more durable. Each additional feature can add more to its cost. Some of these features are:
- Being washable or scrubbable: Easier to clean and maintain.
- Moisture resistant: This makes it more viable for rooms like the bathroom and kitchen.
- Paintable: Your wallpaper becomes even more customizable.
- Peel-and-stick: There is no need to apply separate adhesive onto the wall or paper.
- Removable: Much easier to take down wallpaper with this feature than other wallpapers that need to be stripped with strong chemicals and a lot of effort.
- Repositionable: Makes installation mistakes much easier to correct.
This RoomMates Tile Wallpaper from Amazon.com is an excellent choice. It is washable and repositionable. It is also the best choice if you are staying at an accommodation temporarily because it does not leave residues behind.
6. Some Brand Names Are More Expensive
Like almost anything manufactured, luxury brands sell their wallpaper at a much higher price than the selection you can find at Home Depot. Branded wallpapers can be of very unique design or much higher quality. Other times, it can really just be the brand:
- Ralph Lauren
7. Preparation Before Papering Can Be Extensive
You may be excited to spice up your space and get that new wallpaper hung on the wall, but for the best results, you need to properly prep your wall before trying to apply it.
Usually, this involves:
- Stripping the old wallpaper from the walls before putting the new paper.
- Applying primer paint to cover up any cracks in the wall.
- De-glossing any existing paint on the walls that might cause the wallpaper not to stick well. This involves sanding down any textures.
- Use lining paper to cover minor imperfections and stains on walls so they don’t show through your wallpaper. Lining paper also helps reduce the chance of your wallpaper shrinking.
8. Professional Installation Is Recommended
When dealing with higher-quality wallpaper or wallpaper murals, these tend to be wider, thicker, and heavier. These make it difficult, perhaps near impossible, for an inexperienced paper hanger or simple DIY person to install correctly.
It’s always best to get a professional to handle the installation to get the best results. You don’t want to end up wasting the money you spent on purchasing high-quality paper if your wallpaper isn’t hung properly.
Professional hangers have the proper equipment and tools and the experience and know-how to make sure your wallpaper sticks to your wall beautifully.
9. “Repairing” Wallpaper Means Re-Papering the Whole Wall
Proper installation, good maintenance, and extra features will go miles to extend the lifespan of your wallpaper. Still, sometimes damage and wear and tear over time are unavoidable.
Damage can show in rips, scratches, peeling, stains, and discoloration. When that happens to just part of your wall, you can’t just repair that portion and replace the wallpaper there.
Even if you buy the same pattern from the same store or brand, the new paper will appear noticeably different if applied next to the older paper. Patterns can go out of production or are no longer sold when you need a replacement.
Some wallpapers are hand-printed or hand-painted and can’t be duplicated either.
Is Wallpaper Worth the Cost?
Wallpaper is worth the cost because it is customizable and lasts longer than paint. However, it is expensive and costs even more to have it professionally installed. Prices can even go higher based on the size of the space you want to be papered and the amount of wall preparation involved.
It’s commonly known that decorating a room with good quality wallpaper costs at least twice the price of having it painted.
Spending on wallpaper is worth it, especially when you consider these benefits:
- Lasts longer than paint: Though the upfront cost of wallpaper is higher, the time wallpaper lasts before replacement is significantly longer. Interior walls need to be repainted every 5-10, whereas wallpaper can last up to 15 years.
- High durability: With today’s technology, wallpaper can be wipeable, washable, scrubbable, moisture resistant, removable, and easily repositioned if mistakes are made during installation.
- Highly distinctive and customizable: You can’t get the same level of detail and freedom of design you have with wallpaper in paint. If you can think it, you can print it and stick it on your wall.
Alternatives to Wallpaper
If you still don’t have the budget to have an entire room wallpapered, you can cut costs by making an accent wall. Choose just one wall or part of a wall to wallpaper. The rest of the walls can be painted.
If wallpaper isn’t for you and you still want to do something similar, here are some DIY examples that you can do instead of applying wallpaper:
Paint Your Pattern
A lot of hardware and construction stores sell rollers, blocks, and stencils so that you can paint your wall and give it that wallpaper look.
The Bueer Paint Rubber Roller from Amazon.com is an excellent example. You can choose from several different patterns that will match your style.
If applying wallpaper to the walls, or even just a single wall, feels like too much, vinyl decals can be an option for you. They allow you to add all kinds of designs to a part or parts of a room. Decals can be anything from names, quotes, logos, animal shadows, and building silhouettes.
If you can’t do a wallpaper mural, why not try this large tree design wall decal from Amazon.com: Studio Queen Wall Art Sticker. It has excellent quality and feedback from customers!
The price of wallpaper is usually twice that of paint. It can go even higher with manufacturing costs, durability, features, size, and brand. You also need to factor in professional installation to your budget.
Though expensive, wallpaper can be worth it. Compared to paint, it lasts longer and offers the opportunity to customize and choose more detailed and intricate designs.
If wallpaper isn’t for you, other alternatives can simulate the look of wallpaper or decorate parts of your wall.
- Wallpaper Boulevard: How Expensive is wallpaper?
- Happy Starts at Home: Wallpaper Printing Methods (aka Why is wallpaper so expensive?)
- Home stratosphere: Types of wallpaper
- The Guestroom Furniture: Is Wallpaper worth it?
- Decorators Best: Top high-end luxury wallpaper brands
- My Move: The pros and cons of painting vs. wallpapering
- Home Advisor: Wallpaper vs painting- the complete comparison guide
- DIY.com: How to hang lining paper
- Remodelista: DIY: An economical wallpaper alternative
- House Meraki: DIY Alternatives to wallpaper
Share this Post