Answered: Can You Paint Over Wallpaper? This Is How!

Do you want to save yourself from the time-consuming process of wallpaper removal? All you have to do is paint over it! Maybe you find that painting your stairs or the ceiling is so much easier than painting over wallpaper? The truth is that this is the easiest way to add a fresh splash of colour in your living room and cover up any room’s tired-looking wallpaper.

living room with faded wallpaper, blue chair and small table

Do you want to revive your room without having to touch a stripping knife? Keep on reading to find out all you need to know about painting over wallpaper and the proper techniques you should follow. Say goodbye to old and loose wallpaper!

Can you paint over wallpaper?

Do you want a short answer? Yes! Painting over wallpaper is many times controversial. Some professional painters say that painting over wallpaper can’t look as good as if you worked with a blank wall. However, if you want a quick update for your room, it’s understandable that you maybe don’t want to spend ages removing the old wallpaper. There are a few things you may need to take into account before you jump in your car to head to the paint store:

  • Many homeowners don’t know that they can successfully paint over the wallpaper if there aren’t any curling edges and no air bubbles under the surface. It won’t be a tricky DIY project if you follow the proper instructions
  • Keep in mind that textured wallpaper will require more attention than smooth wallpaper since its textures can show through the paint layers. Don’t worry though; it isn’t impossible to do! 
  • If you’re thinking of taking the wallpaper down in the future, it is best to just get on with it. It will be even more challenging to remove painted wallpaper
  • There may be hidden damage under the wallpaper, like mould and cracks. It may be a bad looking wallpaper, but it could be hiding some even worse damage that you may not be aware of.
  • It may seem more practical to paint over it, but you may need more time to prepare the wall if the wallpaper is in bad condition. If it has bubbles and peel, their extent will determine how much work you’ll need in preparing for paint.
  • There are many types of wallpaper materials, such as fabric-backed vinyl, paper backed vinyl, vinyl-coated paper, plain pulp paper, non-woven, grasscloth and natural fibre. You need to approach some of them a bit differently and may require different prepping and paint.

yellow paint roller over blue polka dot wallpaper

Preparation before painting over your wallpaper

If you decide to paint over wallpaper, there are certain things you should do first. It is essential to clean the wallpaper and then apply primer and sealer. You’ll need to choose the right paint, and after the prep you’ll be free to start painting! Follow our instructions to cover all the prep’s steps the right way!

What you’ll need

  • Mask, old clothing, safety goggles, and thick gloves
  • TSP
  • Soft sponge or paintbrush
  • Rag 
  • Drywall knife
  • Joint compound
  • Spackle 
  • Adhesive 
  • Sanding blocks, sandpaper or a sander
  • Oil-based combination primer/sealer
  • Paintbrush or paint roller
  • Masking or painter’s tape

Step 1: Safety first

  • You should practice basic safety since you’ll be working with chemicals while cleaning a wall. 
  • Wear a mask or ventilator, old clothing, safety goggles, and thick gloves to protect yourself. 
  • Open windows and doors to keep the room ventilated.

Step 2: Clean the entire surface thoroughly

  • Use TSP(trisodium phosphate) to remove unwanted oils and chemicals from the wallpaper and leave a clean surface to paint on
  • Create your cleaning solution by mixing a half cup of TSP in 7.5 litres of water
  • Wipe down your walls with it, using a soft sponge or brush.
  • Let it dry. To be sure, wait at least 24 hours.

Step 3: Rinse the wallpaper

  • When the wall is arid, wipe it down with a clean, wet rag. Keep wiping until you remove all traces of TSP.
  • Don’t use too much water for the rag, or you could damage your walls or wallpaper.
  • Let the wall dry.

hand with pink glove cleaning a green wall with a rag

Step 4: Cover the seams with joint compound

  • You need to cover the wallpaper seams so they won’t be showing through your new paint. 
  • With a drywall knife, apply joint compound over the seams in a thin layer. 
  • Let it dry before you sand it down.
  • You can find these products at your local hardware store.

Step 5: Repair damage

  • Use spackle and adhesive to repair damage and loose pieces. You can purchase these at most hardware stores.
  • Check the wallpaper for holes and any places where it is peeling
  • Caulk the holes with a layer of spackle. 
  • Rub a layer of adhesive over peeling wallpaper to keep it in place.
  • To apply the products to the wallpaper, use the tools that come with them.

Step 6: Sand rough areas

  • Primer and paint secure better to sanded areas
  • Run sanding blocks, sandpaper or a sander gently over the entire surface of the wallpaper. 
  • It is better to use the blocks to areas like seams you applied joint compound to, spots you spackled, and any rougher patches of wallpaper and pay extra attention to them.
  • If the wallpaper is in good condition and you have limited time, you could paint over it

worker's hand aligns the sandpaper wall

Step 7: Remove any dust

  • When you sand the surface, wipe off all dust with a cloth.
  • If there is too much dust while painting, it will harm the final look of the wall.

Step 8: Buy a combination of primer and sealer

  • It’s a good idea to choose an oil-based combination rather than a water-based one. You can purchase this at a hardware store
  • It will prevent the wallpaper from peeling. It will also create a surface that paint will stick to easily

Step 9: Apply the combination as a basecoat to the wall

  • Add a coat to your wallpaper using a brush or roller
  • Apply one even coat of it the same way you would apply paint.
  • Make sure to get it into corners, nooks, and crannies
  • Give it plenty of time to dry. Drying times will vary depending on the type of product you used. Some priming may take a few days to dry.

Step 10: Mask the areas you don’t want to paint

  • Mask areas where you don’t want to paint and protect skirting boards and window trims.
  • Use masking or painter’s tape to do so before you start painting. 
  • Ensure there are no spaces in these areas, as the paint may bleed through and cover unwanted corners and edges.

Worker protecting batten moulding with masking tape before painting at home improvement work.

Step-by-step guide: How to paint over wallpaper 

You are now ready to start painting over the wallpaper. Follow these steps and give your walls the new look they deserve! 

What you’ll need

  • Small angled brush
  • Paint roller
  • Latex or oil paint
  • Paint tray

Step 1: Paint into corners

  • Use a small, angled brush to get into hard-to-reach areas and corners first. 
  • Target corners, areas near the windows, and along the baseboards.

 Step 2: Apply the top coat using an “M” pattern

  • With a roller, roll on paint in the shape of an “M” in one area.
  • Then, overlap this “M” by making another “M”
  • Continue this “M” shapes pattern of painting until you thoroughly coat the wall in paint.
  • Let the first coat of paint dry completely before applying a second coat. This may take a few days.

Step 3: Apply another coat, if needed

  • If the existing paint doesn’t cover up the existing wallpaper or you want your colour to be darker, apply a second coat.
  • Two coats of paint usually yield the best results.

person's hand painting the wall blue with a paint roller

Step 4: Remove the painter’s tape from the wall

  • Peel off the painter’s tape while the paint is dry. 
  • Inspect your paint job. In case you missed any spots or you notice any patchy areas, you should spot treat these with additional paint.
  • Let your wall fully dry and enjoy its makeover.

Extra painting tips

Do you need some extra painting tips for your home improvement project? Find here all you need to know to make the job easier and the results better!

  1. To achieve your desired new look and make sure your paint will stand the test of time, your best choice is oil-based paint.
  2. You can paint over an old vinyl wallpaper by following the steps above. If it’s a new peel and stick paper, it would be better to remove it. It will start peeling off because it won’t hold the extra weight of the wet paint.
  3. First, you should always check that the existing wallpaper will hold up to another coat of paint before moving on with the painting.
  4. Instead of primer, you can use an emulsion. Dark vinyl wallpaper will need multiple coats of emulsion, typically around three coats.
  5. Oil-based primer has strong fume. Use them in a well-ventilated area and wear a respirator, if necessary.
  6. It is crucial not to rush the process and use the right tools and techniques. As in all D.I.Y. projects, proper preparation is vital.

Man pours paint into the tray and dips roller. Professional interior construction worker pouring white color paint to tray.
Are you sick of the sight of your tired-looking wallpaper? Wallpaper removal can sometimes be damaging to surfaces, especially if your wallpaper is attached to drywall. It needs a lot of elbow grease and patience to ensure that you get every spec of paper and wallpaper paste. On the other hand, painting over it may be the best option. It will need a minimum of hassle and will be the most efficient and least messy option. Just make sure you have all the right tools and follow our instructions to paint over your wallpaper for a quality finish!

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