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How to Paint Over Wallpaper

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It’s normal for your wallpaper to look a little scruffy and worn out after a few years, and you may be considering what options you have to revitalize your papered wall, and one of them is learning How to Paint Over Wallpaper.

Trends come, and trends go, and while wallpaper is a simple way to add a new pattern and color, it’s becoming an increasingly outdated style.

First and foremost- if you were not the one to put up the layer of wallpaper, you’ll be oblivious to what imperfections may lay underneath, such as degraded plaster and nail holes.

Furthermore, you may be looking at your wall and trying to determine just how many layers of paper have been applied, and removing just one layer of wallpaper is a difficult task, let alone having to deal with multiple layers.

If you need a quick spruce up, then you can get spectacular-looking results in just a few hours just by painting over your wallpaper.

Although painting your wallpaper is not advised by most professionals, selecting the right tools and techniques can help to rejuvenate your room without spending too much money.

Continue reading this article with a hassle-free step-by-step guide of How to Paint Over Wallpaper.

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?

The simple answer is yes, although others may disagree.

As mentioned, if you ask a professional or paint manufacturer, they will advise you to strip your wallpaper wholly and first remove any residue adhesive before you consider painting.

Sometimes, mainly if done incorrectly, stripping or removing your wallpaper can cause a lot of harm to the wall underneath.

Selecting the right equipment, primers, and paints will help you get your paint job done quickly and look refreshed in a few hours.

?Extra Info: Damage to your base wall can be caused if the wallpaper was applied on top of unfinished plaster or drywall.

Figure Out the Type of Wallpaper

Accessing and determining the type of wallpaper you have is your first step before you consider opening your paint and grabbing your brush. Different types of wall coverings will require you to follow other techniques.

For instance, paper or vinyl coated papers can easily be painted as long as you fully prepare the wall and prime it thoroughly. Incorrect priming and preparation methods could cause the seams and edges of the paper to lift.

Also, there are some coverings such as heavy fabric-backed vinyl, that are not recommended for painting and should be removed and are a lot easier to remove than other materials.

When you Should Not Paint Over Wallpaper

As mentioned above, some wallpaper should simply not be painted such as fabric-backed vinyl, and luckily this type of wallpaper is not too hard to remove.

However, when examining the condition of your wallpaper you should look out for peeling in several places as this is a key indicator for when you should not consider how to paint over wallpaper.

?Hot Tip: Bad candidates for painting over are usually those that are easy to remove, and good candidates for discovering how to paint over wallpaper are those that are difficult to remove.

Closely examine your wallpaper for any damages and figure out the material before you add a coat of paint because removing wallpaper that has been painted over is a harder job than wallpaper with no paint.

?Key Takeaways: Your wall coverings must be completely clean, and there must be no evidence of rips or peeling, if you continue to paint over the rips your paint job will peel and highlight the imperfections you attempted to disguise.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper: Step-by-Step

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STEP ONE: Clean the wallpaper

As with most paint jobs, including ones that have been explored in previous blog posts such as shutter, siding, and stained wood, the success of each DIY project relies on thorough preparation.

Using a damp cloth, you should wipe off your wallpapered walls to remove any dust and dirt from the walls- this is important otherwise neither your primer nor paint will stick to the wall.

If you find that the wallpaper is grimy or greasy, you can use a chemical cleaner commonly referred to as TSP or trisodium phosphate.

TSP is very strong, and it needs to be diluted with water in a bucket. Before you mix the solution make sure you are in a well-ventilated room, and make sure you have on your protective gear, goggles, gloves, and a mask.

ℹ️ Ratio: Half a cup of TSP for every two gallons of water.

You can apply the TSP to your walls with a clean paintbrush or a sponge. Try not to soak the walls with the solution- it can soften the adhesive underneath the wallpaper which can cause the bond to loosen.

Now that the TSP has dried, use a damp cloth- ensure it is not dripping wet- to remove the chemical from the wall.

⚠️Be Cautious: Being careful is key, if you don’t use enough water the chemical will not be fully removed, and the paint will not adhere correctly. Using too much water could damage the paper and you won’t be able to paint.

Allow the walls plenty of time to dry before moving to the next step.

STEP TWO: Look for damages and add adhesive or sealer where needed

The last thing you want to see after you’ve finished painting over your wallpaper is peeling layers.

To prevent any peeling, you can apply a wallpaper seam adhesive to the wallpaper’s most vulnerable section which is usually the seam where the paper meets the ceiling and floor.

?Remember: You should only apply a thin layer of adhesive to get rid of any loose fragments.

If you do not have a seam adhesive, you can also lift the areas with a putty knife. You should cut away any loose areas and then fill them with spackle; this helps to create a smooth and levelled surface. If you use spackle, you’ll need to sand over the area lightly and use a damp cloth to remove the dust.

? Hot Tip: If you have a texture you don’t want to be visible, then you should sand other the paper until the texture is undetectable.

STEP THREE: Painter’s tape- molding and trim

Using your painter’s tape, mask off any areas you don’t want to get any paint on like your molding, baseboard, and trims.

STEP FOUR: Prime the walls

Regardless of the topcoat, you decide to use whether it be oil-based or water-based, you’ll want to use an oil-based primer. You definitely do not want to use a water-based or latex-based primer, as the primer can soak into the wallpaper and cause your bond to loosen.

Just as you would with any paint job, you’ll want to use a brush to cut in around your corners and edges, and then go in with your roller to cover the rest of the wall.

Check your manufacturer’s directions for dried or cured times, and make sure you allow the full time for the primer to be dried.

? Key Fact: Not only do primer-sealers provide a perfect surface for the paint to adhere to, but they also lessen the chance of any peeling and ripping.

STEP FIVE: Apply your first coat of paint

Now that your wall has been properly prepped and primed, it’s ready to be painted. Some people may decide not to seal and prime their walls, but it’s always recommended that you do to ensure you start painting with the best possible surface.

You should opt to use oil-based paint when you are preparing to coat your wallpaper.

Just as you did in the primer stage, use a paintbrush to cut in corners and edges, and then use your roller to cover the rest of the wall.

Usually, you will need around two coats to cover your wallpaper, and be sure to allow plenty of drying time between each of your coats.

If you are covering wallpaper that has harsh bold patterns, or if you are covering dark-toned wallpaper with light-coloured paint, you will need more coats.

STEP SIX: Sand in between coats

Allowing your first coat plenty of time to dry. During your dry time, you can consider sanding over your wall. Although it’s a tedious job, the sanding will help to disguise any imperfections helping to improve your finalized project.

?Don’t Forget: If you chose to sand between your first and second coat to use a clean cloth to remove any dust residue.

Then follow the steps above when adding your second coat of paint and finally add a topcoat of your choice to seal your job.

Step back and take a look at your rejuvenated wall, no more tired-looking, outdated wallpaper!

Roundup: How to Paint Over Wallpaper

Learning how to paint over wallpaper is a fairly simple job, and in some cases, it’s the preferred method rather than removing your wallpaper.

Just like most DIY or home improvement jobs, the finished project usually depends on the amount of effort, dedication, and time you put into the project as soon as your start.

If you are considering hiring a professional painter, view our post which will break down the expected costs.

Full attention to preparation is essential and you must take your time through these processes to ensure you have the best possible surface to work with.

Examine your walls carefully looking out for any rips or peeling as these will be visible through your paintwork and will ruin the final look.

Always remember to figure out what type of wallpaper you are working with, as some cannot be painted such as heavy fabric-backed vinyl.


Can you paint over wallpaper?

Yes, you can paint over the top of the wallpaper. Using a low VOC oil primer is vital as it doesn’t reactivate the water-based glue. But be careful. If you have peeling seems or loose paper, it’s probably best to remove the wallpaper
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