Painting over Wallpaper

Posted by Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault on on September 12th, 2014

Let’s face it…removing wallpaper is a less than enjoyable task!

And if it’s been on your walls for years…perhaps decades…there’s a good chance that you’ll be faced with unexpected damage to the drywall or lath and plaster finish underneath.

BUT, if your wallpapered walls are in good condition and there are no signs of adhesion failure, there’s really no reason to invest a lot of time and effort in removing it before painting. In fact, by leaving the wallpaper in place, your walls will stay in their current condition, and you’ll be able to start painting quickly, however there are some important considerations and preparation steps before you pull out the paint roller…

Wallpaper prep before painting:

  • Start by adding wallpaper adhesive to any lifting corners or edges to ensure the paper is smooth and secure
  • If there are any tears or nail holes in the wallpaper, carefully rip away any loose paper and then apply a thin layer of drywall spackle overtop. Once dry, lightly sand and smooth all spackled areas
  • Also, add a layer of drywall compound to the vertical wallpaper seams and lightly sand once dry
  • Add a thin bead of clear or paintable caulking around the perimeter at the joint seams where the paper meets the floor, ceiling and corners. This will help seal the edges and keep the paper from peeling after you’ve painted
  • If you have heavily textured wallpaper, you may want to consider the option of hiring a professional to skim coat overtop of the surface or even add new ¼” sheets of drywall overtop. Sometimes the cost of covering over the wallpaper with new drywall is less expensive than the cost to repair and patch severe damage from the wallpaper removal
  • Next, apply a coat of oil-based primer to the entire wall surface before painting…this is definitely the most important step! It’s important to use an oil-based primer because it will seal the adhesive within the paper and create a layer between the porous paper and a latex top coat of paint. If you were to use a latex water-based primer, it would be just like spraying paper with water…the end result would be awfully mushy!
  • Once the wallpaper is primed, you’re now ready for painting. You can use a quality latex based wall paint over the oil-based primer, and ta da…no one will ever know there is wallpaper hiding underneath!

Here’s a great before and after of painted wallpaper featured on Attack of the Hungry Monster blog…

Have you ever painted over outdated wallpaper? Show us the successful results by sharing a picture with our Facebook community.

Happy DIY-ing!!