Can I Paint Over Wallpaper?

For anyone who has attempted wallpaper removal in the past, there may be an understandable hesitancy to trying it again. If there was an easier option, it could save a lot of tedious labor and frustration. So could it work to just paint over the wallpaper?

Painting over your old wallpaper is a legitimate option, but it is not a perfect solution. You need to evaluate the condition of your walls to see if it will work, and you need to follow certain steps carefully.

Is My Wallpaper Paintable?

If your wallpaper is peeling at the edges, it is likely to keep peeling after new paint is added. This is obviously a recipe for disaster. If there is just some minor peeling, you can glue those spots before painting, and it will probably be OK.

An additional issue to consider is texture. If the wallpaper has a printed pattern or texture to it, this may show through the new paint. Get your face close to the wall and look at it at an angle, towards a light source. This is the easiest way to see if there is a texture. Running your hands over it can also help you determine if there is a raised texture. If a significant texture exists, it is possible to do a skim coat over the drywall. However, this is also labor-intensive and tricky for someone without experience. You may want to just remove the wallpaper.

If your wallpaper is basically smooth and firmly adhered to the wall, it is probably paintable. But just because you can paint it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Here are some more considerations.

Is It a Bad Idea to Paint over Wallpaper?

When you add a coat of paint over wallpaper, the paper becomes far more difficult to remove in the future. If you or a future homeowner ever wanted to get that paper off, that paint would be a major source of frustration. Following the correct steps for painting over wallpaper can help you make sure it will last, effectively becoming part of the wall. If that happens, no one should ever need to remove it.

While we’re on the topic of bad ideas… sometimes you will find that wallpaper was applied directly onto bare drywall, with no primer or paint in-between. This is a really Bad Idea, since the wallpaper will be nearly impossible to remove without destroying the drywall. If you begin trying to remove the wallpaper and it seems to be stuck onto bare drywall, we might recommend just painting over it.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper

Begin by sanding all of the seams so there is not a ridge that you can see or feel. Any peeling areas should be glued down as tidily as possible. Some people also recommend applying a small line of clear, paintable caulk along the top and bottom edges of the wallpaper, which will help prevent the paper from beginning to peel in the future.

Probably the most important step in painting over wallpaper is applying the correct primer. Use an oil-based primer with stain-blocking properties. The oil base will create a barrier to prevent moisture in the paint from loosening the drywall glue, which would be a major headache. The stain blocker will help cover the color of the wallpaper, so your new paint can achieve proper color in fewer coats.

After the primer has dried, inspect the walls again. Look for any signs of peeling, any seams that are visible, or any texture that is showing through. Deal with these items now, before applying your top coat.

Finally, you are ready to paint the walls. This is always the fun part, when after all your preparations, you see the transformation taking effect. Enjoy!

Professional Wallpaper Removal

A.G. Williams has long experience with wallpaper removal. If you are hoping to change the style in a room with wallpaper, call us for a free estimate. You may find that having us do the wallpaper removal for you is less expensive than you thought. Also, hiring a pro will definitely save you a lot of time and effort. Finally, you can trust us to provide you with beautiful, lasting results.

We are a professional painting company based in Pelham, New York. We serve the nearby communities of New York and Connecticut.