wallcovering vs. paint, apartment building hallways NYC

As an interior designer who has re-designed hundreds of apartment building hallways and lobbies, I’m often asked this question: “What’s the best options for our hallways – wallcovering . paint?” To provide some clarity, I’d like to dive into this matter.

Quick sidenote – within the design community, we use the term “wallcovering” as opposed to “wallpaper.”

At first, many board members and decision-makers lean towards paint, because it seems like the easiest and most economical choice, especially when their hallway walls have always been painted. But when making the decision beween wallcovering vs. paint, we find that the exceedingly better choice is wallcovering, and here’s why:

Wallcovering vs. Paint For Apartment Building Hallways

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About Paint

  • Arduous Preparation: If you opt for paint your walls must be meticulously prepared. Any dirt, debris, dings or damage will be visible through the paint. To avoid this, your walls should be professionally washed and areas with imperfections must be made perfectly smooth by skim-coating. It’s a demanding task, particularly if your building has many floors.
  • Frequent Repainting: Between children’s sticky hands and apartment deliveries, hallways endure a lot of wear and tear. In order to stay fresh and clean-looking, yearly repainting is required. You’ll have disruption caused by painters in your hallways and it will take a bite out of your budget year after year.
  • Touch-Ups Are Impossible: Unfortunately, you can’t simply touch-up hallway paint when it is dirty or damaged. The color matching process becomes challenging with continued wear and tear, requiring a full repaint to regain that new-wall feel. I think we’ve all been in painted hallways where the touch-ups are a completely different color.
  • Costly To Switch: If your hallways are covered by wallcoverings, switching to paint can be costly due to the extensive preparation work involved. And, there’s a good chance you’ll be downgrading the aesthetic appearance of your building (more about that below).
  • Shows Imperfections: Particularly in older buildings paint tends to accentuate wall flaws, including waves, puckers, dents, and other blemishes.
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About Wallcovering

Choosing wallcoverings over paint can transform your hallways into luxurious, upscale spaces. With a myriad of colors and styles, modern commercial quality and Class A fire-rated vinyl wallcoverings inject vibrancy into dull, dark hallways, especially when paired with a thoughtful lighting scheme.

  • Enhances Building Appeal: As an interior designer primarily working in New York City’s highly competitive real estate market, I can tell you that choosing hallway wallcovering vs. paint gives a building an edge. It can positively influence a buyers’ perception of your building, especially if competing buildings in your area have opted for hallway wallcoverings.
  • Mask Imperfections: Vinyl wallcoverings that are thick and richly embossed are our choice for most buildings. Not only are they beautiful, they excel at concealing wall imperfections, especially in older buildings. Expensive wall preparation may not even be necessary but should be evaluated first.
  • Easy To Maintain: One of the major advantages of vinyl wallcoverings is that they don’t show fingerprints and smudges like paint. But it’s their washability that makes them ideal to maintaining consistently clean, fresh-looking hallways.
  • Simple To Repair: If your vinyl wallcovering is damaged, you just have to replace it with a new strip, unlike paint, which often requires redoing the entire wall. And, you don’t have to worry about color matching – vinyl wallcoverings usually don’t fade or darken. (and if it has been years and years – the existing wall covering can be easily washed to bring it back to match newly installed wall covering)
  • Durable: On average, vinyl wallcoverings stay in prime condition for about ten years. But with regular maintenance, such as yearly professional cleaning, they can last up to five years longer. We recommend when you place your initial wallcovering order, add some “attic stock.” Attic stock is an additional 15% of material kept for future use in case if damage, fire, or flood.
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Wallcovering vs. Paint? Conclusion

If you’re considering a revamp of your building’s hallways and have been leaning towards paint, consider the vast benefits of wallcoverings. Today’s options are fantastic. One of our favorite manufacturers produces vinyl that looks exactly like silk! The right choice enhances the appeal of your building, last for many years, and save your building money in the long run.

You may also enjoy:

Apartment Building Hallway Trends – What’s New Now?
Ways To Make Your Hallways Look Wider

Sygrove Interior Design Services

Sygrove Associates Design Group is an NYC interior design company. Our company’s founder Marilyn Sygrove is the lead interior designer on all projects. And she’s as tough as you are when it comes to quality, aesthetics, and coming in on time and on budget.

It all starts with a design consultation with Marilyn. She takes the time to thoroughly understand your design needs then personally directs all interior design, planning, and installation activities. Her work has been delighting clients, co-op and condo boards, and homeowners for over 30 years.

You can reach Marilyn by email at hello@sygrove.com or call her directly at 212.757.0631.

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