Monday, May 10, 2010

The Battle For Your Walls

All indoor spaces are different, but the one thing they have in common is the fact that they are framed and defined by walls.  Because walls are typically the biggest and most potentially transformative area of any space we felt it was only right to pay them a little attention.  Here’s quick walk through of the pros and cons of wallpaper vs. decorative painting.

Whether you realize it or not, your home sits on a timeline that began the moment it’s foundation was laid.  If previous owners made bad choices in structure or decorating you may still be paying for them, just like you’ve reaped the rewards of their good choices.  I say this to remind you that whatever project you’re starting is about more than the time and money you spend during renovation- it’s part of your house’s grand timeline.  Here are a few big picture questions you may want to ask yourself and a little inside information to help you answer them.

How much will my space cost to create?

Let’s talk dollars and cents- you can get a general idea of how expensive a project will be by adding up the following numbers:

Cost of Materials + Cost of Qualified Labor = Total

Of course there are lots of variations of this equation, the sad alternate being

Cost of Materials + Cost of UNqualified Labor + Cost of aggravation + Cost of Repairs = Total

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it’s important- you will always get what you pay for!  I love do-it-yourself projects, but if you can’t do it right than it’s absolutely essential that you hire a professional with a good portfolio.  You can’t afford NOT to.  But I digress, we’re talking about wallpaper, decorative finishes and which one will be kinder to your wallet.  Although there are many contributing factors (type of wallpaper, complexity of project, etc.) your overall cost will typically be less with a decorative finish.  For a simple process like glaze manipulated by brush you’ll spend about $2-3 less per square foot than the total cost of wallpaper. 

How easily can this process be fixed if my wall is damaged? 

This is especially important to consider if you have children, friends with children or friends who act like children.   There’s a pretty clear cut answer to this one- decorative finishes are easier to repair nearly 100% of the time.  A good faux finisher will leave you the excess paint from your job so you can call for touch ups even years later and get an exact match.  Wallpaper, on the other hand, is difficult to repair.  Paper wears over time so even if you choose a pattern that’s not discontinued you won’t be able to get a perfect color match on a replacement panel.   

How much will it cost to change down the road when I want a new look altogether?

On average, wallpaper is much more difficult to replace than decorative finishes.  Unless you choose a process with a lot of texture you can paint right over your walls with the next color or design of your choosing.  Wallpaper requires steaming, glue removal, and a host of other irritating chores and, if applied or removed improperly, may leave walls that require a lot of repair.  

How customized can I get?

One of the biggest advantages of decorative finishes is the fact that there’s not much of a cap in what you can create with them.  With wallpaper you’re essentially limited to the colors, patterns and pictures in someone else’s imagination…not so with paint.  Many wallpaper samples can even be executed as a decorative finish.  

Although the scales may weigh in favor of decorative finishes, don’t be totally discouraged if you fall in love with a wallpaper.  If it’s an extremely intricate design it may be out of your budget to re-create so I’ll shoot straight with you- wallpaper is not from the devil and you’re not dooming your house to destruction if you decide you want to use it.  While all the points I just made are true (it typically costs more, is harder to repair, and more difficult and expensive to remove) at the end of the day you need to weigh the options for yourself.  So long as you choose wallpaper with your eyes open to the potential issues, my job here is done.  


Unknown said...

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