Can You Wallpaper Over Wallpaper? The Benefits And How To Do It

You don’t like your current wallpaper, or maybe it’s time for a change? Some people prefer to paint over their old wallpaper, but a new one can spruce up any room. It is a great way to create a brand-new look in your space, and there are many wallpaper ideas, patterns, colours and styles to choose from; you are spoiled for choice!

A TV in a living room mounted in a wall with some wallpaper art

Are you ready to decorate your bedroom walls or any other room? When it comes to changing wallpaper, do you wonder if you can hang a new one over the existing one? The short answer is yes, but it depends on a few elements, and you have to be careful during the installation. Keep on reading to learn more about these aspects, the benefits of this process and how to do it properly!

Can you wallpaper over wallpaper?

While the answer to your question is generally positive, there are some things you’ll need to consider first. To be sure you have the info you need before starting your DIY project, we’ve included these factors below.

The condition of your old wallpaper

The state of your current cover is the most important factor when contemplating adding a layer over an existing one. Hanging new one over an old one that is cracked, ripped, peeling, and damaged is not a good idea.

Hanging wallpaper on a damaged previous one will only result in your new to start peeling much faster. If it is in your bathroom or kitchen and wasn’t created for humid environments, we recommend taking it down before putting up the new one as there may be mould and mildew under it. So, it’s essential that if you plan to cover old wallpaper with new paper, that the old stuff is still in good condition and hasn’t deteriorated too badly.

The colour and pattern of the existing wallpaper

If your existing layer has a dark colour or a bold pattern, it might not be a good option to hang new over it. This is because its dark colour could show through. The exception to this is if you plan to use a new layer that’s darker than the base layer. In that case, the new wallpaper could still effectively conceal the dark colour of the old one.

It would be wise to test this by buying a sample of your new one and putting it over a small section to see if the old pattern shows through. Check the sample area in all different lightings throughout the day, as natural light can pick up the print underneath, whereas a duller light bulb wouldn’t. If it shows through, you can either choose a darker wallpaper or strip the wall

 Assortment of light and dark wallpaper in rolls with an abstract pattern in a hardware store

Non-coated vs vinyl-coated wallpaper

There are 2 types of wallpaper: non-coated and vinyl-coated. In most cases, you can wallpaper over non-coated paper. However, you cannot do the same with vinyl wallpaper. Vinyl is nonporous. As a result, the new wallpaper will not stick to it, and adding a layer on top of it will create mould. You should remove it before putting the new paper up. Researching your current one would likely be a very time-consuming endeavour. If you do not know if your wallpaper is coated, save yourself time by testing it

  1. Dampen a sponge with warm water until it gets wet.
  2. Rub it against a small corner of the wall.
  3. Check it to see if the entire area darkens from the moisture. If it does, then it is non-coated.

If it is vinyl-coated, you, unfortunately, need to remove the wallpaper before you can put up anything new. If you have a coated wallpaper with embellishments or embossing, you should consider stripping it off first. These wallpapers usually result in unattractive bumps on the surface of your new wall coverings

The number of wallpaper layers

Decorators highly recommend not going over more than one layer. Therefore, if you know there is only one layer and meets the considerations we mentioned above, you can wallpaper over it. However, if there is more than one layer, you should remove them. If you are not sure, you can gently cut into the wallpaper in an inconspicuous place to check if there is another layer underneath.

Conclusion

To summarise, your old wallpaper should not:

  • Be severely damaged
  • Be textured
  • Have vinyl coating
  • Have very dark or bold colour
  • Have more than one layer of wallpaper

Benefits of wallpapering over wallpaper

Adding a new layer over wallpaper can be a good solution when you’re refreshing your home decor. This is especially true if you’d rather cover your walls in new, modern wallpaper instead of opting for paint. It will also save you a lot of time. Find here the main benefits!

Black empty frame hanging on the wall with forest wallpaper and deer shaped clock above kid's bed

  • It can transform any room in your home. It is especially a good fit for decorating children’s rooms, where you can use delightful and fun patterns with animals and nature themes. You can also create a sophisticated look in any room, with wallpapers with a deep shade or stylish designs. 
  • You will save time and effort. Stripping the existing layer from your walls can be time-consuming and a lot of hard work.
  • Working with wallpaper is relatively easy and does not require special skills or expensive materials.
  • Wallpaper is easy to maintain. You just need to wipe it with a clean cloth or soft brush. You can clean washable wallpapers easily with just water.
  • Good quality wallpapers will last a long time, and with proper care, they may last about 15-20 years, retaining their colour and appearance unchanged.

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

After you’ve checked that the current one in your room is still in good condition, you can now hang new wallpaper over it. For the best results, use the following steps and learn all you need to know about the process.

What you’ll need

  • Wallpaper
  • Wall filler
  • Wallpaper primer
  • Step ladder
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller and roller tray
  • Bucket
  • Seam roller
  • Seam sealer
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Sugar soap solution
  • Tape measure
  • Plumb line or spirit level
  • Wallpaper brush
  • Sharp putty knife or wallpaper scissors
  • Sandpaper, sanding block or sander

wallpaper installation equipment, paintbrush in bucket with glue

Step 1: Inspect your existing wallpaper

  • Before moving on to the process, it is essential to inspect your current wallpaper for any holes, lumps, rips and peeling. 
  • Remove any nails and double-check that there is only one layer of wallpaper on the wall. 
  • Once you’ve found any problem areas, follow steps 2, 3 and 4 to fix them.

Step 2: Seal the seams

  • If there are any loose seams in your old wallpaper, use a seam sealer and a roller and smooth them back into place. 
  • You can also use a paint roller if you don’t have a seam roller.
  • Apply the seam sealer on the wallpaper’s backside and roll over the seam so that the sealant will firmly adhere.

Step 3: Cover any holes

Spackle over any small patchy areas or holes using a putty knife. After you have finished the spackling, give it some time to dry.

Step 4: Sand the area down

With sandpaper, smooth any of the areas that you have spackled over. Make sure to get them as flat as possible

Step 5: Clean the walls

  • After sanding, you’ll need to clean the walls. Use a wallpaper-friendly cleaner to remove any dust and then leave it to dry
  • You can also use a wallpaper brush to dust away the debris. Then, apply sugar soap solution to a sponge to clean the walls. Wait for the walls to dry before moving on.
  • Use painter’s tape to protect electrical sockets and prevent water from entering them.

closeup to hands with yellow cleaning gloves, cleaning the wall with a rug

Step 6: Prime the walls

Apply wallpaper primer. Many homeowners often overlook this, but this is a defining step to make your walls look great. Priming will improve the wallpaper paste’s adhesion and ensure that the new layer of wallpaper firmly sets on the wall. Once you’ve primed, leave it overnight to dry before you decide to do anything more.

Step 7: Apply your new wallpaper

It is now time to paste the new wallpaper over the old one. With a paint roller, roll the seams and get rid of any air bubbles or uneven spots. Then, trim off any of the excess wallpaper either on the top, bottom or sides of the wall with a utility knife. Leave your wallpaper to set completely! If you have not done any wallpapering before, here are some helpful tips:

  • Hang the first sheet from the middle of the wall or 50 cm from the wall’s corner.
  • Use a plumb bob & spirit level to mark your first sheet.
  • Measure an extra 100 mm on to each wallpaper strip’s wall length.
  • Use the concertina fold method and hang the wallpaper from top to bottom. A concertina fold, same as a zig-zag fold, a z-fold or an accordion fold, is a continuous parallel folding.
  • It is important to keep straight lines, so you should go slow
  • If you are hanging any patterned design, make sure your starting point is in line with the manufacturer’s guide. If you’re not sure, ask the salesman in the store before you go home.

How to avoid common problems

Wallpaper can add warmth and style to your living room or any room, but it can be an eyesore if it gets damaged, peels or curls at the edges. Find here 4 common wallpaper problems and their solutions

Air bubbles

They are underneath the wallpaper’s surface is a common problem. The solution is simple: 

  • You’ll need a glue injector. There are two types of injectors, one that looks like a syringe and one that has an accordion bulb above the needle. Both of them work well, and you can find them at a wallpaper or home improvement store.
  • Cut a small slit in the paper along one side of the bubble with a sharp utility knife. 
  • Insert the injector’s needle into the slit
  • Squeeze seam wallpaper adhesive under the bubble. 
  • Press out the excess adhesive.
  • Wipe it off with a damp sponge.
  • Roll with a wallpaper roller to flatten the bubble.

6 Happy woman wearing a bandanna smooths air and glue bubbles on the wallpaper with a roller. An experienced master applies various techniques to properly prepare the walls

Curled at the seam

If your wall covering‘s edge has curled up at the seam, don’t worry, it’s easy to fix. Here’s what to do:

  • Moisten the area with warm water till you make the material pliable.
  • Lift the edge carefully and slip seam adhesive under it with a strip of index card or a toothpick.
  • Flatten the seam using a wallpaper roller.
  • Wipe away any excess glue.

Peeling borders

Wallpaper borders are notorious for peeling at the edges. They are often used across the top of walls or at chair rail height. If you see peeling, just dab white glue on the wall and the underside of the border using an artist’s brush. Then roll with a wallpaper roller.

The paper is coming away from the wall

There are 4 common reasons for this:

  1. The paste wasn’t strong enough for the wallpaper’s type.
  2. You didn’t size the wall right.
  3. You hung the wallpaper on old distemper or gloss paint.
  4. Condensation is forming.

If the problem affects only small wallpaper areas, you can lift the area, apply the new paste, and press it back into place. But if a whole length is affected, you have to remove it altogether and replace it.

Happy young woman hanging wall paper while doing DIY home renovations standing in front of a newly painted section of wall holding a roll up on display
If you’re looking for a makeover for your home, updating your existing wallpaper with a new one is the way to go! You can save time and money by wallpapering over your current wallpaper and give your home the facelift it deserves. Follow our guide and spruce up any room the right way! Maybe you want to take a step further and also paint your ceiling or your stairs next. Nothing can stop you from an amazing restyling!

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