Home Improvement

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?

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Wallpaper can add a nice accent or a pop of colour to any room. It can be a fun interior design solution, too. However, its once beloved look might no longer go well with your new furniture. Or maybe you are just looking for a bit of change. We can all get stuck deciding between paint and new wallpaper for ages. But if you have ultimately decided on the latter, you may ask yourself – can I paint over wallpaper?

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So, if you:

  • Want to redecorate a room, but aren’t able to rip up the wallpaper first;
  • Want to know if you can paint over different types of wallpaper and how;
  • Are curious how to prepare the room for painting,

Then this article is for you!

Most professional painters will tell you that it’s essential to get rid of your old wallpaper before applying the paint. Still, there are situations that just won’t let you experience the satisfaction of ripping it off the wall. Sometimes the wallpaper paste is so stubborn that you have a better chance of just tearing the whole wall down.

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?

Yes, you can! But there are some things that you should keep in mind before you start redecorating. The first thing you have to do is to check the type of wallpaper you have and the state it’s in. Some kinds are more suitable for painting over than others and the level of wear could mean that it’s better to rip it off beforehand.

Textured Wallpaper

Painting over textured or embossed wallpaper can be tricky if you’re aiming for a smooth finish. If that’s the case, a skim coat can be applied over it. Keep in mind that this can be difficult if you are not a professional painter. Otherwise, painting over textured wallpaper without smoothing it out can add a fun, but simpler look to your walls.

Vinyl Wallpaper

There are standard and paintable types of vinyl wallpaper. If yours is the former, it is recommended that you remove it before painting the walls as the colour will not stick well to it. If this is not possible, you’ll need to prime and prepare the wallpaper well first.

When Should I Not Paint Over Wallpaper?

Painting over wallpaper makes it even more difficult to remove. You should keep this in mind, as this will limit your options for redecorating your walls. Should you or another homeowner decide on ripping it off, this may be a problem. Consider whether you would want to sell the house in the future and what issues may arise from the painted wallpaper.

If you are unable to prime and prepare the wall beforehand, you should consider hiring a professional to remove it. If it is not of the paintable sort and you decide to paint over it with no preparation, the glue may seep through the paper into the paint and bubbles could form underneath. This would make for an unpleasant looking wall and a few hours of your time wasted.

How to Prepare the Room for Painting

Before getting to the task at hand, you should always prepare the room for painting. This will help you to avoid making a mess and keep your belongings safe from harm.Move all furniture away from the walls.

  1. Move all furniture away from the walls.
    You should clear up as much space in the room as you can. Depending on its size, you may need to take the furniture out of it. Move any items to the centre of the room where they won’t be an obstruction.
  2. Cover the windows, door frames and floor.
    To stop anything from getting accidentally splattered with paint, you can cover the doors, windows, light and outlet covers, etc. with tape and a plastic cover. Put the same cover or some old newspapers on the floor to protect it from any dripping paint. If you want to be extra safe (or if you’re a messy painter), cover the furniture as well.
  3. Clean the walls.
    Any dirt should be cleaned off the wallpaper beforehand to allow the paint to stick to it better. This is the case especially for embossed wallpaper, where dust can collect on the small ledges and cause you troubles. You can use a slightly damp cloth and a mild solution of dish soap and water. Be careful not to soak the paper, as this can cause bubbles to form.

How to Prepare the Walls

Now that the room is ready, it’s time to prepare the wallpaper. This will ensure you get the best results when you paint over it.

Determine the wallpaper type

You need to know what you’re working with. Vinyl and textured wallpaper may need different kinds of preparation. The same goes for paintable and standard types. With a paintable wallpaper, you can get straight to work, whereas with standard ones there are a couple more steps.

Fix surface damages

If your wallpaper is starting to come off on its own, you should remove it before painting the walls. If you are dealing with loose ends, tears or holes, you can simply fix them. Here is how:

  1. Remove loose pieces with a taping knife or fix them to the wall with wallpaper glue.
  2. Use the same glue or clear caulk to cover any seams along the walls, floor and ceiling. Sand them afterwards to smooth them out.
  3. Using a taping knife, fill in any holes with a paste of water and joint compound.
  4. Let the compound dry, then sand it down. Repeat the process with a second coat.
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Cover the walls with primer

Before painting over standard wallpaper, you need to apply primer. It will act as a barrier between the paint and the paper, making the process easier and safer.

The best primer for painting over wallpaper is oil-based. You shouldn’t use the latex variety, as they contain water and can cause air bubbles to form. Oil-based primers don’t have that problem. Additionally, you can paint over them with any kind of paint you choose. Just remember to open the windows when working with oil-based products, as the smell can be overwhelming. It is recommended that you wear a face mask and gloves.

Apply the primer with a nap roller, using a brush to fill in corners and smaller areas. Let it dry completely – this takes about 4 hours. Should you choose to paint a light colour over a dark wallpaper, you may need more than one coat. Always allow the primer to dry before applying the next layer.

If you want to create a perfectly even base to work with, consider applying a layer of undercoat after the primer. It will smooth out the surface and provide an evenly coloured base for you to paint over with the top coat.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper?

Now that everything has been prepared, here comes the fun part – painting the walls! When using an oil-based primer, the type of paint is up to your personal preference. The advantages of water-based paint are that it dries quickly and does not smell as strong as the oil-based variety. You can simply clean your tools with water afterwards, instead of using harsh chemicals.

  1. Use a nap roller to cover large areas. Fill in corners and details with the help of a brush.
  2. Allow the paint to dry completely. The time it takes will vary depending on the type of paint you choose.
  3. Apply a second coat if necessary. When soaking in, the colour may lighten up a bit.
  4. Let the paint dry before removing any protective covers.

Cleaning up

If you have prepared the room properly, cleaning shouldn’t be a hassle. All you would need to do is remove the plastic covers, newspapers, and tape, and put the furniture back in its place. Still, accidents happen. So, if some runaway paint has made its way onto your floor, here are some tips on how to get paint stains out of your carpet.

Don’t forget to clean your painting tools as well. For water-based paint, simply wash your brushes, rollers and tin with water. For oil-based paint, use turpentine or the recommended type of solvent to wipe your tools and rinse them with water and dish soap.

Is painting the walls too much trouble?

If you don’t have the time or are unsure what would be best for your home, you can hire professional decorators to handle all the hard work.
Fantastic Services offers a painting service that can help your walls look neat and fresh. The painters are equipped with all the tools they will need for the job and will make sure your home is left spotless afterwards.

Give your walls a fresh new look. Find out about our painting and decorating service here.


  • You can paint over wallpaper, but you will need to prime and prepare it beforehand.
  • If your wallpaper has started to come off on its own, it’s best to rip it off.
  • Bumps and dents will be visible after painting, so you need to fix any holes and tears first.
  • Use an oil-based primer to avoid air bubbles forming underneath the wallpaper.
  • If you are not sure how to do it, it’s best to call a professional.


Did you find this article useful? Do you have experience with painting over wallpaper? Share with us in the comments below!

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