A Guide to Painting Over Wallpaper Correctly

Wallpaper is used to add color, texture and pattern to a room. It also is often used to cover up any wall imperfections. Wallpaper can make a room look polished and fashionable. Many older homes have wallpaper as a prominent part of the home’s interior design. The problem with wallpaper, however, is that it can quickly become dated. Painted walls are much easier to change when you update or remodel your home’s interior space. What if you decide to paint your wallpapered walls?

Most interior designers and paint specialists will advise you to remove the existing wallpaper and prep the walls before you paint them. Removing wallpaper can be a chore. Many older homes may have two or three layers of wallpaper, making the process even more difficult. Once the wallpaper is removed, you could be left with damaged walls that can be time consuming and costly to repair before you begin to paint. Depending on the type of wallpaper or the condition it is in, it is possible to paint over it and create a beautiful new look for your home.

Here is how to properly paint over wallpaper.


Before you make the final decision to paint over wallpaper, you must first assess the type of wallpaper you are dealing with. If the wallpaper is actually paper or if it has a coating of vinyl over it, it can easily be painted over and no one will ever know there was ever paper on your walls. If the wallpaper is made with a heavy fabric or if it has a vinyl backing, you should consider removing it before you paint your walls. These types of wallpapers are impossible to prep for painting over. The substance can’t be covered up and will show through the paint.

Once you’ve determined that your wallpaper is the type that can be painted over, you will need to assess any damages that might make painting over it impossible. What is the condition of the wallpaper? Is it old and worn? Is it dirty? Are the seams lifting? Are there many frayed or loose pieces? What is the condition of the paper around the room’s perimeter where the paper meets the ceiling, floors and walls? If there is a lot of damage to the wallpaper, it may be easier to take it off then to spend more time prepping it to paint over.


Once you have determined that your wallpaper is the type you have is okay to paint over and that the condition is not too terrible, you can begin to prep the walls for painting. This should be a relatively easy process. However, with more damaged wallpaper, the process may take a bit more time. First, damaged or loose pieces of wallpaper must be repaired to create a smooth canvas to paint over. Repair all loose pieces by applying adhesive.

The next step in prepping your wallpaper to paint over is to apply caulk. A thin layer of clear caulk should be applied along all wallpaper seams. It should also be applied to the perimeter of the wallpaper. This includes the line where the wallpaper meets the ceiling, the floor and all joining walls. Applying caulk along the edges and seems will keep any frayed or pulling edges flat against the wall creating a smooth area to paint over.

If there is any texture to your wallpaper, you will next want to address that so the texture won’t show through when you paint the walls. This can be done by applying a very thin coat of joint compound or spackle. Now, the texture won’t show through when you paint over the wallpaper.

You will next want to sand the wallpaper seams. Take a piece of sand paper and gently rub it over all seams of the wallpaper. This will assure that the seams are smooth and won’t show up through the paint. You’re almost ready to paint over your wallpaper.

The final step of preparing your wallpaper to paint over is applying a prime coat. You should use an oil based primer for best results. You should not use a primer with latex. That will soak through the wallpaper and cause it to peel back. Your primer will work to seal the adhesive in the wallpaper so it won’t soak through when you paint. Now, you are ready to paint your walls.


Now that the paper on your walls is all smoothed and sealed, you can paint your walls. You can use any type of wall paint you want to cover over wallpaper. The best technique when painting is to work in small sections. Carefully blend your paint with overlapping strokes with a paintbrush or paint roller to cover the walls evenly.

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