Updating your room with some fancy and intricate wallpaper can be a fun and creative interior design solution. But what happens when it gets old, you have new furniture and they don’t go well together, or you just don’t like the wallpaper anymore?

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Most professional painters will tell you that it’s essential to get rid of your old wallpaper before applying the paint. However, 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.

Before you go picking up any loose paper ends and get yourself into trouble, hear us out on a little secret: you CAN paint over wallpaper.

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?

Of course! But, before you unleash your inner artist and paint your room the colours of the rainbow, double check the state of the wallpaper. If it’s starting to peel off by itself, it’s better just to tear off the whole thing and paint on the clear surface. However, if it looks in an acceptable condition and nicely adhered to the wall, you can proceed with the task at hand.

What if the wallpaper is textured?

If your wallpaper has textured patterns, they would most probably appear after you paint over them as well. Run your hand over to see if there is any. If there and you don’t wish to have that, you can do a skim coat over the drywall. However, this can be a heavy task for non-professional painters.

When Should I Not Paint Over Wallpaper?

The most common problem about painting over wallpaper is whether in the future you or another homeowner would wish to remove it. Painting over wallpaper would make it even harder to remove in the future and it would easily become a part of the wall. At that point, it would be nearly impossible to remove it.

How to Prepare the Room for Painting

You are no doubt excited for the painting, but it’s important to know how to prepare the room beforehand, so you don’t have to deal with additional work afterwards.

  • Clear the furniture. Remove the furniture that blocks any part of the wall, be it tables, chairs, sofas, decorations, light and outlet covers.
  • Move the rest to the centre of the room. The rest of the furniture should be out of the way too, but there’s no need to take it out of the room altogether. Just move it to the centre of the room where it won’t be a bother.
  • Use a plastic cover. Paint has a bad habit of getting just about anywhere, so the better you cover your furniture, the less annoyed you’ll be after the job is done.
  • Cover the floor. It’s very possible for the pain to drip on the floor, and if you won’t want to spend the rest of the day cleaning paint from hardwood, or laminate, you should cover the floor.
  • Clean the walls. If the wallpaper has any dirt or residue, it should be cleaned. A dry rag might be enough, but if you wish, you can also dip in a solution of dish soap and water. However, bear in mind, you’ll have to wait for the wallpaper to dry before painting.
  • Tape off adjacent surfaces. In order to avoid paint smears over door frames, window frames and the like, use a good quality tape to cover them.

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How to Paint Over Wallpaper?

Here you can find the basic instructions to follow when undertaking the mission to freshen up your walls with paint:

#1. Determine the wallpaper type

It is vital to understand what type of material you are working on. Painting over textured wallpaper or coverings that are heavy fabric-backed, don’t allow the colour application. It is a must to rip them off beforehand.

Another question that may be rising in your mind is “Can I paint over vinyl wallpaper?”. Paper or vinyl-coated wallpapers can be worked on, but you need to prep and prime them first.

#2. Fix surface damages

You will be painting over wallpaper, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter any damages on the wall. Ripped or lifter paper pieces are most common. You can use a taping knife to tear loose ends off, or you can simply glue them back against the wall. Both ways can ensure a smooth surface.

If there are holes that need filling, here is what you can do:

  • Mix water with the joint compound, until you have a paste;
  • Use a taping knife to fill in all of the seams with a thin coat, working from the top to the bottom;
  • Let the joint compound dry, but make sure there are no bumps at the edges of the seam;
  • Sand the dried compound;
  • Apply a second coat;
  • Sand again.

Once this is done and your wall is completely smooth, you can proceed to the next step – priming the wall.

#3. Choose the right primer

Before painting, wallpapers should always be treated with a special product called a primer. The primer acts as a barrier between the paint and the old wallpaper. For this purpose, you should always use an oil-based primer, never latex.

The reason for that is that latex primers contain water that is capable of penetrating the paper and causing air bubbles to form when it dries. There’s also a big possibility for latex primers to let stains bleed on the surface of the new paint, deeming the entire renovation pointless.

This is why oil-based primers are your best bet.

A bad side of oil-based primers is their odour, but that will eventually vanish. They create a stronger bond with the paint and makes the whole process a lot easier. In the end, all the effort you’ve put in painting the wall will be worth it.

#4. Cover the walls with the primer

Now that you’ve chosen the right oil-based primer, it’s time to apply it. It’s very important to wear a face mask when using this kind of product. And, don’t forget to open the doors and windows to allow for proper ventilation of the room.

In order to cover the walls with primer, you need a nap roller to apply the primer and a natural bristle paint brush. You don’t need more than one layer of the product, so don’t overdo it.

A smart idea is to tint the primer with the colour you’ve chosen so you can save time from brushing coat after coat of pigment afterwards. It takes about four hours for the primer to dry and you can proceed to the next step.

#5. Paint the wall

Once you are finished with the preparations, it comes the exciting part you’ve been waiting for: to paint on wallpaper walls! Professionals recommend using a roller for bigger surfaces, and handy brushes for small details like going around door and window frames.

#6. Clean up

Once you’ve finished with all of the fun stuff, it comes the part we all dread… Cleaning. If you have properly prepared the room, all your work would be removing plastic, doing a little dusting and vacuuming, and putting everything back on its previous place. In case some of the paint has made its’ way between the plastic covers and to your carpet, here are some handy tips on how to get paint stains out of rugs.

It is important, however, also clean your painting tools. Get the paint out of your rollers and brushes, wipe your tin and carefully shake the sheets. Now that you know that painting over wallpaper is possible, unleash your inner Picasso and have a fun time! Happy redecorating!

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Image header source: Deposit Photos / Author: urfingus

  • Last update: May 27, 2019

Posted in Painting and Decorating Tips

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