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Can You Paint Over the Wallpaper?

Roller with blue paint.

Wallpaper: Convenience vs. Aesthetic

Wallpaper has proven itself a quick, yet surprisingly effective way of giving your home a facelift at relatively affordable prices. Still, convenient as it is, there comes a time when you might need to remove it. Either they’ve outlived their purpose, or you are simply tired of looking at the same generic print every day. After all, wallpaper trends tend to get old really fast. Which brings us to the question, should you remove the wallpaper first, or paint over it? And if so, how and when is it wise to paint over it? Let’s take a look!

Can You Paint Over the Wallpaper?

In all honestly, painting over wallpapers isn’t the best approach. The professional way would be to start by removing it, along with any adhesive underneath. And then proceed with the paintwork. However, this isn’t always the case. In some cases, painting over the wallpaper might actually be the better option.

So when can you paint over the wallpaper? You can do this if:

  • The wallpaper had been glued to an unfinished plaster or drywall, and removing it might damage the wall.
  • There are multiple wallpapers stacked on top of each other
  • You lack the time or extra money to have the job done properly

When Not to Paint Over Wallpaper

Not all kinds of wallpaper can be painted over. If the wallpaper is fabric-backed vinyl or patterned with dark saturated colors, they might show up underneath the paint over time. On the bright side, these kinds of wallpaper come off relatively easy. As it turns out, the problematic wallpapers to remove can be okay to paint over, and vice versa. It is important to also keep in mind that wallpaper that has been painted over will be naturally harder to remove.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper

Painting over wallpaper isn’t really all that complicated. But first, you have to prepare the wall accordingly. You can get this done in four major steps:

Repair Any Observable Problem Spots

This includes any parts of the wallpaper that are peeling off or seams popping out. A good way to quickly fix this is by cutting off any loose pieces or seams that are standing out and then sealing them off with drywall spackling to smooth it out. Finish off by sanding it lightly when it dries up. If the wallpaper has an obtrusive texture, you can sand the whole wall as well using an orbital or palm sander and then wipe off the dust using a damp cloth.

Use Painter’s Tape to Protect the Trim and Molding

Using your painter’s tape, carefully seal off anything you don’t want to get paint on, including trims, baseboard, molding, or wainscot.

Prepare the Wall

Much like you’d do some surface prep before painting over a bare wall, you want to start off by wiping any dirt and dust off the wall using a damp rag (it shouldn’t be soaking wet). This is to allow the primer to adhere well to it. You can use a solution of TSP for the greasier walls. Avoid soaking the walls as it might cause the adhesive to soften. Ultimately, this leads to the formation of bubbles. Be sure that you let the walls completely dry before applying any primer.

Apply a Solid Coat of Primer

Now that your surface is nice and clean, it is ready to receive the primer. In this case, there are two options; water-based and oil-based primers. Of the two, you want to go for oil-based primer because, unlike its water-based counterpart, it won’t soak into your wallpaper or make the adhesive loose. Once done, give the primer time to dry. As always, it is recommended that you ensure the space has ample ventilation when coating.

Begin Painting

By now, your wallpaper should be clean, fixed, and primed. Once the primer is dry, you can go ahead and apply the paint. Approach the task as you would any other painting task. Use a roller for the larger surface area and then a paintbrush to navigate the trickier edges and corners. If your wallpaper has a bold color pattern, you might have to do a couple of coats. Before applying any more coats, let the first one dry out.


As we’ve seen, painting over wallpaper is quite possible, and by following the steps above, you should get pretty decent results. If you get stuck or find the whole process daunting, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help. At Painter Bros, we are more than happy to lend a helping hand. Our professionals are constantly on cue, armed with the necessary skills and tools for any painting task you throw at us. So feel free to contact us today (844) 509-2313 and get a free quote.


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