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Paint, wallpaper, laminates: Which is the best choice for your home?

People always have strong opinions over certain issues: politics, where to find the best chicken rice in Singapore, and interior design. Granted how a home looks is a matter of personal taste, so any form of renovation is a serious undertaking (second only to buying the property itself).

Remember, you’ll have to live with the results of your decision for a rather long time, so to make it easier, we’ve examined whether paint, wallpaper and laminates is the most suitable for walls, and why.



This is the de facto choice for home-owners. Aside from being the most economical option, paint adds personality to an otherwise dull room. Likewise, a fresh coat of paint is the quickest way to make a 20-year-old condo look new. As for its effect on small-sized homes, picking a lighter shade of paint can help give the illusion of space by making rooms look larger and more spacious.


Interior Designer: Design 4 Space

Based on these factors, we would recommend homeowners on a tight budget and time constrains to select paint as their top choice for wall furnishing. Just be aware that paint does fade over time, hence may requiring retouching every 3 – 5years (depending on exposure to the elements).

Painting by numbers:

  • If you’ve just moved into a new BTO or resale HDB, do consider using primers beforehand. Priming allows for paint to batter adhere to the walls and prevents against premature peeling, especially on walls that are prone to collect moisture (eg. from air-con condensation or near the windows)
  • Always paint over even, leveled walls. This is because, just like bad lies, any bumps, holes or patches on the walls can still be easily spotted even when painted over. It is recommended to sandpaper or cover up these imperfections before applying the primer.
  • Resale owners take heed – Never paint over wallpaper. Doing so will tarnish the quality of the paint and will be even more of an eyesore. The sad truth is that there is no other way around this other than stripping it first.
    That said, it is possible to paint over textured surfaces (eg. popcorn walls/ceilings) but it would take twice as much paint, specialized tools and much patience to accomplish a good paintjob.
  • If you want to scrimp on costs, it should not be on painting your home. A cheap paintjob is like a counterfeit Picasso – crudely done, suffers wear and tear much faster and sure to garner dirty looks from your guests.
    Thankfully, painting services in Singapore, offered by Dulux and Nippon, are affordable, averaging between $600 – $1500, depending on the number of rooms you wish to paint. They will generally offer up to a selection of three colours in their basic packages, with extra charges for each addition colour thereafter.

Pro-tip: It is common for contractors to offer homeowners painting services as part of a holistic home renovation package. However, there have been cases where home-owners have been duped, from complains of shoddy workmanship to usage of cheaper paint alternatives.

Our advice is to go directly to the professionals – Prices are comparable and you’ll be guaranteed to have certified painters provide quality work.



The most flamboyant of all wall-furnishing options. Because it is customizable, wallpaper gives homeowners the greatest range of choice to express their creativity – be it murals, prints, stripes, floral motifs etc. In comparison to paint, the other benefits of paint are that it won’t create stains and does not leave behind an odour.


Interior Designer: The Interior Lab

So if you’re a homeowner who wishes to accentuate the ambiance in their property, then wallpaper is the way to go. Its drawback though is Singapore’s hot and humid climate, which can cause it to slowly curl over time.

Sticking it in:

  • If you’re still keen on wallpaper, the smooth wall rule still applies. Prior sandpapering of the walls as well as scrubbing and washing them is recommended, whereas application of a primer depends on the overall condition of the wall.
    For resale buyers, there is nothing wrong with wallpapering over existing wallpaper, however, this very much depends on its prior condition.
  • It is advisable to install wallpaper in areas of the house that do not encounter much exposure to sunlight and moisture. This rules out the kitchen, toilets and areas near the windows.
  • Wallpaper is the most expensive option, costing between $40 – $300 for a standard 15 m (length) x 1m roll. Of course, the quality and range of design fluctuates depending on price, so it helps to compare and shortlist your preferences before making a purchase.
    As a rule of thumb, an average 4-room HDB living room will require around five to eight rolls. If you decide to engage a third party to help you with installation, be prepared to fork out another $150 – $500 in additional costs. The good news is there are quite a number of one-stop shop wallpaper specialists such as Wallhub, The Wall Story and Wall Affairs that offer reasonably priced packages in Singapore.

Pro-tip: Remember to purchase extra rolls of wallpaper. This is to safeguard against the unfortunate circumstance the design you’ve installed is no longer in print, should you need to replace your old wallpaper.



Laminates are a hybrid between paint and wallpaper. While it is as durable as paint, it also adds texture to a room the same way wallpaper does. Moreover, laminate wall panels have the ability to conceal unsightly features such as cables and exposed wiring, otherwise impossible to do with traditional wallpaper and paint.


Interior Designer: Urban Habitat Design

On the downside, wall laminates may warp and peel as a result of wear and tear. When this happens, you may have to replace the entire piece. But don’t worry about this happening, as wall laminates tend to have a longer shelf life compared to wallpaper.

Installing the illusion:

  • Depending on how you envision your home interior to be, wall laminates come in several patterns to mimic otherwise more expensive materials such as timber, granite, leather or metal.
  • The wall surface the laminate is placed on must be completely flat. Any irregularities will result in visible protrusions.
  • It can be used almost anywhere in the house, including high moisture areas like the bathroom and the kitchen. However, in order to preserve its condition, it is best to install it only on walls that have been primed or on an existing painted drywall. Pasting it on existing wallpaper is a definite no-no too.
  • Laminates are commonly used in conjunction with the construction of feature walls to augment the aesthetic appeal in the living room.
    If you plan to do this, it will cost upwards from $25 per sqft.If you’re planning to install wall laminates, Formica, Lamitak and Jennings are two popular options to consider.

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