How and When to Paint Over Wallpaper

How and When to Paint Over Wallpaper | Tips

Wallpaper is often the go-to solution for homeowners who want to give a fresh look to their home. It’s an easy way to cover imperfections and it can do wonders when it comes to revamping the look of a room.

However, more often than not, there comes a time when the wallpaper that once looked so amazing needs replacing. Maybe you’ve chosen a bold pattern that doesn’t really look stylish anymore, maybe the wallpaper is starting to look worn out, or maybe you just need a change. On the other hand, you might have purchased a new home but the walls come with dreadful wallpapers that look straight out of the 1970s.

If you are dreading the thought of removing the wallpaper so you can start a makeover, you are not alone. Removing old wallpaper is a long and troublesome process, but we have some good news. It’s possible to skip the wallpaper removal part altogether and just paint over the wallpaper.

Video Guide: How To Paint Over Old Wallpaper

Indeed many people wonder, “can you paint over wallpaper?” According to the video below, painting over old wallpaper is a superb option and is quicker and easier than other options like placing 1/4″ sheetrock over old wallpaper or getting rid of it.

This video teaches you the tips, tools, and methods to paint over wallpaper. It really works effectively and the painted wallpaper makes a great surface for fresh paint.

Should You Paint Over Wallpaper?

Painting over wallpaper is usually not recommended. Removing the wallpaper and starting over from a clean slate will give the best results – this is the piece of advice you’ll most often hear. However, if you are just looking for a quick solution in many cases it makes more sense to paint over wallpaper.

There are some good arguments to support this claim. First of all, when you remove old wallpaper there is a good chance there will be a large amount of adhesive left on your walls. According to this website, painting over wallpaper glue can cause a lot of problems. In most cases it shouldn’t be done at all, so you’ll probably have to go through the same process as if you were painting over wallpaper.

Furthermore, there are some situations when painting over wallpaper is actually the better option. According to HowStuffWorks, removing wallpaper may cause more damage than good if you have drywall or plaster walls underneath it.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper: Preparation

Once you have decided on the new color you want for your walls, you might be tempted to just take a brush and start painting straight away. However, we strongly discourage you from doing so. There are a couple of things you need to do before you can start painting.

First of all, you’ll need to assess the current condition of the wallpaper. Look for any signs of damage such as loose edges or ripped pieces. If the edges of your wallpaper are loose, you can add some glue to keep them secure. The HowStuffWorks website also recommends using clear caulk as an additional measure to prevent the paper from peeling in the future. Just apply a thin layer to the top and bottom edge and you’re all set!

Painting Over Wallpaper: Primer

It’s very important to apply a layer of primer to your walls before you start painting. Applying primer to your wallpaper will make sure the paint sticks well and prevent any potential problems.

Architectural Digest recommends using an oil-based or alkyd-based primer.

There is a reason why it’s absolutely necessary to use primer – you need to protect the wallpaper from moisture.  If the moisture from the paint gets to the wallpaper glue, it can cause bubbles to appear. What’s worse, the paper might even start peeling off. Latex primers should also be avoided since they are water-based. Therefore, a latex primer could actually cause more damage.

Painting Over Vinyl Wallpaper

An article on PaintingTheme explains that there are two types of vinyl wallpapers – standard and paintable. Paintable vinyl wall coverings are made specifically to be painted over which makes the process much easier. Painting over standard vinyl wall coverings can be tough, but it’s not impossible.

The main source of problems with painting over vinyl wallpaper is the fact that paint adheres better to porous surfaces which is not the case with vinyl. That is why it’s very important to cover the wallpaper with an oil-based primer before painting. For best results, apply one coat of primer, wait for it to dry and check if the surface is completely covered. If needed, apply a second coat of primer before painting.

Painting Over Textured Wallpaper

Many people opt for textured wallpaper because of the vibrant touch it adds to a room. However, textured wall coverings are a bit harder to paint over than regular ones. In this case, you have a couple of options.

If you only want to change the color, but keep the texture, then all you need to do is follow the same steps as with regular wallpaper. Apply primer, wait for it to dry, and apply the paint. That’s it.

If you want to get rid of the texture and have smooth walls, the things get a little more complicated. The Bidivine blog recommends using heavy grade lining paper to cover up the texture.

Painting Over Wallpaper Borders

When painting over wallpaper, it’s especially important to consider the borders of wallpaper sheets. The borders (or seams) might not be visible, but once you cover them with paint they might start showing through. Savvy Southern Style recommends covering them with joint compound for best results.

Inspect the wallpaper closely and identify the location of every seam. Take a regular paint brush and cover the borders with joint compound and wait for it to dry. You’ll need to make sure that the surface is completely smooth and even since any imperfections are likely to show through the paint. Once the joint compound has completely dried, you can proceed with applying the primer.

Painting Over Wallpaper Tips

In summary, these are the most important tips that will make painting over wallpaper easier:

  • Before painting, make sure that the wall surface is completely clean. Crown Paints recommends washing the surface with mild detergent.
  • Use joint compound to cover damaged areas and imperfections.
  • Always use oil-based or alkyd-based primers. Water-based primers should be avoided at all costs.
  • Wait for the surface to dry completely in between coats.
  • Use tape to protect the areas you don’t want the paint to get onto such as the ceiling or widow seams.

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