How to Paint Over Wallpaper

Don’t Want to Remove Your Old Wallpaper? Paint Over It!

Everyone seems to have questions about wallpaper.  So much so, that we’ve created a list of frequently asked questions on the topic.  In this post, we’re going to go over one of the most commonly asked questions – how to paint over wallpaper.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper

Why Not Just Remove the Paper?

It is better to strip the wallpaper if possible. The problem with this is that it’s often easier said than done. Modern adhesives have properties that make stripping the paper easier. We can’t say the same about older adhesives, though.

If the paper is still in good shape, it’s simpler to paint over it. Let’s move on to how to paint over wallpaper, shall we?

Start by Wiping it Down

Start the process by wiping the paper down with a damp cloth. It should be moist enough to remove dust and dirt, but not soaking wet.

Deal with Loose Pieces

If any of the wallpaper has come loose, there are two ways to deal with it:

  • If it’s in good condition and you have the adhesive, stick it down. Securing it provides a more even surface on which to work. It’s also a better option if the area that’s peeling is noticeable.
  • If it’s curled too much or is damaged, remove it instead. You can fill in the exposed area with sheetrock tape.

Use the Right Primer

A shellac-based primer will work best in this instance. Apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and leave it to dry. Please remember to keep the windows and doors open while working with the primer. The area must be well-ventilated.

Check that the Surface is Smooth

Find the seams of the paper and cover them with a self-adhesive sheetrock tape. The tape will prevent the edges from curling up later and ruining the finish. If you’ve removed any paper, fill in the gaps with this tape too.

Apply Spackle Over Seams and Problem Areas

Your next step is to apply a thin layer of spackle over the joins and any problem areas. This spackle will smooth over the tape. Leave it to dry overnight. It’s more work, but it will give you professional-looking results.

Sand Down the Spackle

Now sand it down so that you have a smooth surface on which to work. If necessary, apply another coat of spackle and repeat the process.

To see this technique in action, head over to this video on how to paint over wallpaper:

Apply a High-Hiding Primer

This primer will effectively hide any patterns on the paper. If you’re choosing a dark paint colour, you can save yourself a little time by having the primer tinted the same shade. The primer then doubles as your first coat of paint. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly.

Paint the Wall

Now you can paint the wall as you normally would. Allow the first coat to dry and see whether another coat is necessary.

Final Notes

This method does involve steps that some might feel are unnecessary. The tape and spackle steps can be left out if you’re in a hurry. That said, those wallpaper seams are bound to curl at some stage.

If you want a more durable finish, putting some time into preparation is always a better option.