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Wallpaper vs Wall Panel: What’s The Difference?

Wallpaper vs Wall Panel: What’s The Difference?

Hit a wall choosing between the two? 

Beyond 2D-versus-3D, there are several key differences between wallpaper and wall panels that you should know when choosing between the two. Here’s 5 factors to help you evaluate which wall covering is best suited for you.

1. Cost

Let’s start with cost. Wallpaper installation is generally cheaper than wall panels due to the lower material and workmanship costs (combined):

  • Wallpaper installation: from $3-4/sqft 
  • Wall panel installation: from $7/sqft

Apart from the upfront installation cost, you would also need to consider the future cost of replacement.

The comparison of replacement cost is less straightforward. Wallpaper is installed as a whole, which means the entire stretch must be removed and re-applied if replacement is required, regardless of how small the damaged section may be. 

Product Merchant: Wallhub

Conversely, wall panels are installed in part, which means only the panels that have been damaged need to be replaced. That said, wall panels typically are more hardy and last longer (more on that later), with less need for replacement. 

Product Merchant: Chroma Furnishing

Materially tip:

If you are looking for the most cost-effective investment, removable wallpaper is an obvious choice. It can be taken down easily, and even be saved and used again in the future, or on a different wall altogether.

2. Resistance

Wall panels have a clear edge over wallpaper when it comes to stain, water and heat resistance. By contrast, wallpapers are more prone to stains and smudge marks, particularly in high foot-traffic/common areas such as the living room. 

Product Merchant: Vwalla

Because of their higher water and heat resistance, wall panels make a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

3. Durability

As a whole, wall panels are more durable than wallpaper, particularly in areas with high humidity.

Interior design by 19 Eighty Three

Wallpaper can last up to 15 years, but exact durability is highly dependent on factors such as prolonged exposure to sunlight that can cause peeling and/or cracking, as well as humidity that can cause peeling and/or discolouration. For example, wallpaper has a higher tendency to peel and turn yellow here in Singapore, where humidity is high all year round.


Interior Design by Mr Shopper Studio

Wall panels are said to last anywhere from 15 years to a lifetime, with workmanship as the main factor at play. Proper installation is key to structural integrity, which mitigates the risk of simple aesthetic issues that require fixing.

4. Cleaning and maintenance

Wallpaper and wall panels are pretty much similar when it comes to cleaning and maintenance:

  • Avoid the use of harsh chemicals
  • Regular remove dust with a damp microfibre cloth or light vacuuming
  • Deep clean to extend its lifespan and keep it looking brand new, except note that not all wallpaper can be deep cleaned.

However, because wall panels are stain proof, less work maintenance work is likely to be required in the first place.

Interior Design by Notion of W

Materially tip:

Deep cleaning can be carried out with a sponge and a mixture of water with dish/castile soap. Simply wring out any excess water prior to wiping down, and you’ll be able to remove stains, smudge marks, and even grease stains.

5. Aesthetics & Range of Selection

Popular opinion: wall panels achieve a more sophisticated look because of their rich 3D texture that wallpaper lacks in. They also create a seamless silhouette as compared to wallpaper, where joint lines are more noticeable.

Product Merchant: Vwalla

That said, wallpaper trump wall panels when it comes to range of selection. From wood embossed to leather texture, stone to floral prints, there is virtually no limit to the range of wallpaper you can choose from. In fact, you can even customise your very own wallpaper design. Wall panels have a less extensive - albeit still wide - range of selection.

Product Merchant: Wallhub

So which should I choose?

As you would have guessed by now, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to which you should choose.

Depending on your budget, design preferences and conditions of the room you’re looking to install wall coverings on, wallpaper may be better in some situations, while wall panels in others. Information aside, the best way to decide is in fact to get samples of each so you can compare them firsthand. More details on how you can do so (for free!) at the end of this article.

Our Recommendations


Chroma Furnishing

  • Custom printed wallpaper, decorative panels, and textile-related products
  • Custom wallpaper printing endorsed with GreenGuard Gold, the highest possible ratings for your indoor health safety
  • Environment friendly

KIN Atelier

  • Variety of textured wallpaper selections
  • Competitive pricing
  • Excellent workmanship


Interior Design by Mr Shopper Studio

  • Trusted brand with over 140 five-star reviews on Facebook
  • Over 10,000 designs from international design houses
  • In-house installation team

    Wall Panel

    Chroma Furnishing

    • Well known for its fluted panels
    • Anti-mould and anti-termite
    • Low-maintenance, eco friendly and durable


    • Marble look at affordable pricing
    • Quick installation
    • Big pieces with fewer grout lines


    • Cost-effective and affordable
    • Beautiful and unique designs
    • Quality, durable materials

    Get material samples delivered to your doorstep!

    Still can’t decide? Redeem your 3 FREE sets of material samples delivered to your doorstep to see, touch and feel your materials! Plus, snag exclusive discounts when you make an appointment with Materially and flash your material samples on your visit to our supplier’s showroom. 

    Enjoy these Materially Exclusive Promotions

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