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Painting Over Wallpaper: Can You & Should You?

Can I paint over wallpaper? This is a topic that has sparked many debates between interior designers and homeowners. And we can all agree that it can be a tempting solution when you want to refresh the look of a room without the hassle of removing the existing wallpaper.

While some believe it is a great way to update a room, others view it as a shortcut that could lead to long-term home damage. So, can you paint over wallpaper, and should you even do it? 

We’ll explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of this approach, providing you with the necessary insights to make an informed decision for your next home improvement project. So, let’s go and uncover the facts about painting over wallpaper.

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?

Yes, you can paint over wallpaper but with some caveats. It is possible to paint over wallpaper if the existing wallpaper is:

  • firmly adhered to the walls
  • in good condition
  • free from any peeling or bubbling

Wallpapers like vinyl or washable wallpaper are more suitable for painting compared to others. Before proceeding, assess the wallpaper’s condition and ensure it is a suitable candidate for painting.

Painting over wallpaper requires taking several important factors into account. These factors can significantly impact the success and quality of the paint job.

Wallpaper Condition

If the wallpaper is in good condition with no peeling edges or bubbling, painting over it can be a good option. On the other hand, if the wallpaper is damaged and peeling, painting over it is not recommended.

Wallpaper Type

Different types of wallpaper react differently to paint. Vinyl, washable, or coated wallpapers are generally more suitable to paint over due to their smooth and durable surfaces. On the other hand, textured or heavily embossed wallpapers may not yield satisfactory results.

Wallpaper Texture and Pattern

The wallpaper’s pronounced texture may still show through the paint, resulting in an uneven or textured appearance. Smooth or lightly textured wallpapers tend to work best when painting over them.

Wallpaper Seam Visibility

Note that some wallpapers have more visible seams, and painting over them may not fully conceal them. This will certainly impact the overall appearance of the painted wall.

Potential Adhesion Issues

You should be aware that not all wallpapers have a suitable surface for paint adhesion. Some of them have a glossy or slick finish, which can prevent paint from adhering properly. In such cases, you may need to do additional surface preparation to promote better paint adhesion.

The Thickness of the Wallpaper

Thick wallpaper with raised patterns can create a textured look when painted over, which may be desirable. However, this wallpaper can also cause problems when painted and may require using more paint than needed for a smooth surface.

Looking at the above factors, painting over wallpaper does not seem like a suitable option for all types of wallpaper or situations. Carefully take into account every factor before starting the process.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper: The Process Explained

The process of painting over wallpaper is not complicated, but it requires proper preparation and technique to achieve a smooth and professional finish. Follow this guide to help you paint over wallpaper.

Step 1: Clean the Wallpaper

Thoroughly clean the wallpapered surface to remove any dirt, dust, or grime with a mixture of warm water and vinegar. You can also use water and mild detergent, gently wiping the walls with a sponge. Allow the walls to dry before continuing.

Step 2: Sand the Wallpaper 

Inspect the wallpaper for any tears, holes, or loose edges. Use wallpaper adhesive or a suitable repair product to fix these issues, and follow by using a sanding sponge to gently rough up the wallpaper. This will create a surface for the primer and paint to cohere to. Avoid using too much pressure because pressing too hard can damage the wallpaper.

Step 3: Prime the Wallpaper

Applying a high-quality primer specifically formulated for wallpaper is crucial to create a smooth and uniform surface for the paint. The primer will improve paint adhesion, prevent the wallpaper pattern from bleeding through, and provide a better foundation for the paint. The primer should be applied evenly over your wallpaper, and you can easily do that using a brush or a roller. Don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s instructions  to ensure a successful job. The primer should dry completely.

Step 4: Test the Paint

Before proceeding with the entire room, it is a good idea to test your chosen paint on a small area of the wallpaper. This will help you evaluate how the paint adheres and looks on the wallpaper. If you are satisfied with the results, proceed with painting the entire room.

Step 5: Paint the Wallpaper

Choose high-quality latex or acrylic paint in the desired color. Begin by cutting in along the edges of the walls with a brush. Apply the paint using a roller and even overlapping strokes. Avoid overloading the roller or brush with paint, which can cause the wallpaper to become unglued or bubble up. 

If your first coat does not fully cover the wallpaper, apply another. Apply the paint in a thin, even layer, allowing the paint coats to dry entirely before you apply the next one. Multiple thin coats will yield better results than a single thick coat. 

Once the paint has dried completely, assess the final result. Look for any areas where the wallpaper pattern or seams may still be visible. Inspect the wallpaper for any gaps or uneven spots. Of course, if you do not like the current look, you can even apply a third coat of paint.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Once satisfied with the painted wallpaper, you can proceed with additional decorative finishes, such as painting trim or accent walls. But make sure that the painted wallpaper has fully cured before proceeding with any further decoration, addition, or changes.

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper Glue?

Painting over wallpaper glue is certainly possible but not recommended. The presence of wallpaper glue can create adhesion issues and affect the quality of the paint job. So, while it is tempting to skip the boring process of removing wallpaper glue, it is not the best idea to paint over it. Wallpaper glue often leaves behind a textured surface that can interfere with the smooth application of paint. This will lead to the creation of bubbles or peeling of the wallpaper. 

Let’s not forget that any texture or marks left by the wallpaper glue can show through the paint. Additionally, wallpaper glue can retain moisture, potentially causing paint to peel or develop unsightly stains. Moisture trapped beneath the paint can also lead to mold growth.

For the best results, we advise you to remove the wallpaper and glue completely before painting. Use scraping tools or solvents to strip off your wallpaper and clean the surface. If you must paint over wallpaper glue, apply a coat of primer specifically designed for this purpose to help the paints adhere more easily to the surface. And choose high-quality latex-based paints. Avoid using oil-based paints, as they tend to react poorly with wallpaper glue residue.

Painting Over Wallpaper: Final Words

The conclusion is that you can paint over wallpaper, but consider several factors before deciding if it is the right choice. Assess the wallpaper thoroughly and follow the mentioned steps to ensure a high-quality job.

If you are unsure about the best approach or want to ensure professional results, consult with qualified painting professionals. They have the expertise, tools, and experience to assess your situation, provide tailored advice, and execute the painting project with precision and skill.

If you’re seeking professional assistance for your painting project, reach out to a team of experienced painting professionals today. They’ll provide expert advice, quality workmanship, and a hassle-free experience to transform your space into a stunning showcase. 


Is painting over wallpaper a good idea?

Painting over wallpaper can be a good idea in certain situations. It can save time and effort compared to removing it, especially if the wallpaper is in good condition. Evaluate the wallpaper’s type, condition, and the desired outcome before deciding to paint over it.

What kind of paint do you use over wallpaper?

Use high-quality, acrylic-latex paint designed to cover wallpaper. It should also be washable and durable. These paints dry relatively quickly, allowing for multiple coats if needed. 

Do I need a primer to paint over wallpaper?

Yes, you need a primer to help the paint adhere properly and prevent damage to the wallpaper surface. A primer designed for use over wallpaper creates a smooth surface and enhances paint adhesion.

How do you hide wallpaper seams after painting?

Use a paintable caulk or spackle to fill in the seams. Allow the caulk or spackle to dry before sanding it smooth. Then, paint over the repaired area with the same color as the rest of the wall. You can also apply a textured finish to disguise wallpaper seams or use creative solutions to hide seams. Hang artwork or decorative items strategically to cover or divert attention from the seams.

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