Tarek and I go back and forth about wallpaper for our flip houses. I love the texture that a subtle wallpaper can add, but I can’t argue with the fact that painting is usually faster and easier. Plus, wallpaper trends come and go. At the same time, especially in the bathroom, if I’m going for a particular look, I really have to insist on wallpaper since it’ll take just as much time and effort to get the textures I’m going for with different layers of paint.
Some “experts” insist that you never need to spend the time or money necessary to hang wallpaper, but let’s take a look at a few different scenarios and the best options for each.
If You Have Old Wallpaper in an Old Home
If you have old wallpaper in a flip, chances are pretty good that it’s going to have a hideous, dated pattern and that it’s probably going to be damaged. It’s most likely going to have to come down, but what do you do once you get it off and scraped clean?
I don’t know what they used to glue wallpaper in place back in the day, but it was strong! Tarek and I have spent hours trying to scrape away old wallpaper glue when we knew that our demo and painting guys would have charged us an arm and a leg to do it. The problem is, when you get done, you still have a lumpy and oddly textured plaster wall. Painting directly over that kind of surface is iffy at best, and it usually turns out looking cheap. This is a case when hanging wallpaper will just look nicer and give the rehab a more professional look and feel.
Get Creative in Smaller Spaces
Another time I’ll go for wallpaper is when I have a small space that I want to be really creative with. But I have to be careful here. I don’t want the walk-in closets and bathrooms in my flips to look like they’ve been ripped out of another house entirely. Plus, you have to be careful when using wallpaper in a damp environment, like the bathroom. It can work really well, or it can be a nightmare that’ll peel and bubble up after just a few months.
When in Doubt, Go With Paint
With all that said, painting is definitely faster and less expensive than going with wallpaper. Unless you’re doing something intricate and fun, like using sponges to create texture or patterns, painting is really straightforward. Plus, it still lets you be creative. You have a whole palette to choose from, and you never have to worry if you chose the wrong wallpaper pattern or if it’ll look dated in a couple of years when interior design trends change.
Basically, if you’re not sure about whether to use wallpaper or paint, you should probably go with paint. However, it just makes more sense to paper over walls that aren’t good surfaces for paint. And sometimes it’s just fun to be a little more creative in smaller spaces. Don’t get too creative, though. Remember, you’re not designing your house flips for yourself. You’re designing them for every single potential buyer who walks through the door.