Wallpaper for paint: Should you remove wallpaper — or just paint over it?

It is a bad idea to paint over wallpaper

Courtesy Spring Cleaners LTD

Have you decided that it is finally time to change the interior look of your walls, because the wallpaper no longer pleases you? Or maybe it is that you have arrived in a new home only to find out that the walls are still covered in loose wallpaper. Repainting is always a good option, especially when you select a color that looks good with your furniture. The right tones really have the power to change the feel of the whole interior, not to mention how beautiful a room is with the right paint. By selecting a light color and hue, you can even make a small room look bigger, which is fantastic.

When the walls of your home are currently covered in wallpaper, you may be tempted to just paint over it. It can save you the need to hire a cleaning service, sure, as well as spare you the effort related to removing the wallpaper. After all, when you are a do-it-yourself enthusiast, you may as well choose your tasks more carefully and take the path of least resistance. When you look at it from this point of view, it may seem like a good idea.

But it is most certainly not!

A lot of things may lead to disastrous results when you paint over wallpaper. And don’t think that ‘disaster’ is put mildly. Many potential problems surround the decision to paint over wallpaper, which is why you should avoid this whenever possible. Here are few reasons to discourage you from this idea:

Wallpaper often times hides wall damage, which should be fixed

Think of wallpaper as a blanket for the walls that prevents you from seeing the sheets underneath. Wallpaper may be in fact the last line of defense holding an area of the wall together. While removing it may somewhat worsen the problem, it is an issue you have to take care of anyway. It is most certainly better to be aware of a problem than not know about it. Some people fear that removing wallpaper may in fact damage their walls. This is especially true in the case where the product used was wallboard or similar. If you are extra careful when you work to remove the wallpaper, there should not be an issue with the whole procedure. All you need is some cleaning service after that. If your walls do suffer some damage during removal, you can always return them to their former glory with the right repairs so it shouldn’t really make you doubt whether or not to remove the wallpaper.

Patterns, seams and color may show through the paint

This one is a serious nail in the coffin of the idea to paint over wallpaper. Because wallpaper is usually applied in rows, this means the seams where the rows line up can easily be seen through the paint. Additionally, some wallpaper has various textures. Often you see flowers, cartoon characters and other pictures that quite noticeably change the surface of the material. Painting over such textures will never hide them and they will simply show through the paint. Imagine the result. It doesn’t look too good, does it? Lastly, consider that wallpaper colors, even though hidden at first, may show through the paint after some time has passed. It may not happen immediately, but weeks or months later, which is what we call a recipe for disaster. Imagine the scenario – you have already moved furniture in the room and you are enjoying the new interior, when suddenly you realize you are going to need to remove everything, do wall renovation all over again and call for a cleaning company to deal with the aftermath. Disastrous.

Moisture from the paint can easily loosen wallpaper

Even if you think that wallpaper in your home is sturdy and still in good condition, chances are that applying paint may damage it severely. Aside from the aforementioned problems, applying extra moisture may cause the wallpaper to loosen its adhesive. This could potentially lead to detachment and ripping of the material. This is a real threat, especially when the wallpaper is already damaged and torn in some places. Another unpleasant side effect that may occur when paint is applied is bubbling of the wallpaper. All of this can potentially lead to way more work than simply removing the material.

You could prime the wallpaper with an oil-based primer-sealer, which will inhibit any moisture in the finish paint from lifting the paper.  This usually works… but will make the wallpaper even more difficult to remove!

Wallpaper that has been painted is even more difficult to remove!

!t is impossible to know whether or not you will introduce changes to your interior in the future. If that happens, you will be faced with a very difficult task – removing wallpaper that has been painted over. You will likely need dissolving chemicals and a way to get them through the layer of paint, which is thick enough. And that is just to scour the paint film. You will then further have to work on stripping the paper. All of this amounts to a huge amount of work and the need for A LOT of home cleaning afterwards, which you most certainly do not want to go through.

Wallpaper is not that difficult to remove anyway

One of the final reasons why you should not paint over wallpaper is that stripping wallpaper isn’t all that difficult.   People mostly fear the idea because there is going to be need for some cleaning, but it is nothing to worry about.   Laying down some tarps to catch the paper and the drips from the chemical remover is about it, followed by a little sanding and priming to be sure the walls are ready for the new finish paint.  Messy, yes.  Hard… not usually!

Take into account all of the aforementioned cons of painting over wallpaper. Hopefully you realize that it is not a good idea!

About the author:  For more house cleaning ideas visit springcleaners.org.uk

Pro Tips for Painting Over Wallpaper |Dulux Decorator Centre

An easy way to change the look of a room is with a fresh coat of paint, but often there’s a layer of wallpaper to deal with first. This then raises the question: can you paint on top of wallpaper?

While we nearly always advise removing wallpaper first, this isn’t always possible—or even necessary. In some cases, painting wallpaper is a quick, safe and effective way to breathe new life into a space. This guide will explore the best methods of painting over wallpaper, with advice on techniques and equipment to use. We’ll cover:

  • Can you paint over wallpaper?

  • Things to consider before painting over wallpaper

  • Equipment needed to paint over wallpaper

  • How to paint over wallpaper

  • How to remove painted wallpaper

Can you paint over wallpaper?

With the right preparation, it’s definitely possible to paint over wallpaper. Although it’s generally recommended to remove it first, this isn’t always the best approach. Removing the wallpaper can damage the wall underneath if it’s pasted over unfinished plaster, for example.

Pulling off several layers of old wallpaper is more time-consuming than simply applying paint, as it also involves sanding to achieve a blemish-free surface. Painting over wallpaper is a quick way to refresh the walls and is often the easier option.

Things to consider before painting over wallpaper

Before painting over wallpaper, there are several key points to consider. From inspecting its condition to checking which type of paper you’re working with, read on to find out more.

Is the wallpaper in good condition?

It’s important to check the condition of the wallpaper before painting it. If it has any noticeable chips or holes, it’s better to strip it off completely and start from scratch. Similarly, it should be removed if it’s loose, ripped, or affected by mould. Painting over damaged wallpaper will just make these issues worse instead of covering them up. It will save you time, effort and money to pull the paper off instead.

Will you be redecorating again soon?

If you’re planning on redecorating in the near future, it isn’t recommended to paint over wallpaper. This is because painted wallpaper is tough to remove and doing so may damage the plaster or drywall underneath. You should be particularly cautious about painting over it if you live in a dated building with exposed brickwork.

Have you recently moved into a new home? If you’re planning to stay there for a long time, it’s better to remove the wallpaper as soon as possible instead of painting over it.

Can you paint over textured wallpaper?

So, can you paint over patterned wallpaper? This is not recommended simply because the pattern may show through the paint. However, if you like the look of textured paper but just fancy changing the colour, you can achieve this by following our simple steps to painting wallpaper below. When doing so, choose a matt paint and remember to wipe away excess paint that gathers in the grooves.

Can you paint over vinyl wallpaper?

Painting over vinyl wallpaper is possible as long as you choose a paintable type and apply an oil-based primer beforehand. An oil-based primer will allow the paint to adhere to the paper, paving the way for smooth, easy application.

Equipment needed to paint over wallpaper

For best results, make sure you have the following essential equipment:





Paint roller

Painters tape

Dust sheets


Mild detergent


How to paint over wallpaper

Follow our four easy steps to painting over wallpaper like a pro.

Step 1: Prepare the room

Before you do anything else, it’s important to prepare the room properly. This involves moving as much furniture out as possible, including sofas, chairs and tables.

Place any furniture you can’t remove into the middle of the room and cover it with a dust sheet. Then, lay dust sheets on the floor and across any exposed surfaces, and apply painters tape to the room’s edges.

Step 2: Prepare your walls

The next step is to prepare the walls and ensure they’re as smooth as possible. Identify any loose pieces of wallpaper and stick them down using adhesive. Then, use filler to fix any holes or cracks on the surface.

Top tip: apply a thin layer of the Dulux Decorator Centre Decorators Caulk around the perimeter of the walls to seal air leakage.

After that, it’s time to clean the walls, which can be tricky. Too much moisture means there’s a risk of damaging the wallpaper. On the other hand, you need to use enough water to ensure thorough cleaning. For best results, we recommend using a mild detergent and a sponge. Rinse the detergent with cold water and a clean rag before leaving the walls to dry fully.

It’s important to ensure the wallpaper is completely free of dust and debris, otherwise the paint may not stick properly. You can find a selection of high-quality cleaning products from our range.

Step 3: Prime your walls

Next, apply a primer to the walls for an even finish. Stay away from water-based primers, which can soak into the wallpaper and cause damage, and choose an oil-based primer instead.

If you’re looking for a fantastic product to use, we recommend the Zinsser Wallpaper Cover Up. This is an all-in-one primer, sealer and stain blocker, which protects wallpaper from moisture in the paint and creates a surface that paint can easily be applied to.    

Step 4: Start painting

Wait until the primer is completely dry before applying paint. The painting process is very much the same as painting a bare wall. Watch our helpful video to find out more.

Remember to give your chosen paint a good stir before using it. Grab a paintbrush and cut in around the wall’s edges, taking extra care above the skirting boards and around door frames. Then, use a roller to apply paint to the rest of the surface, working your way across in sections.

Wait until the first coat is dry before applying a second. Two coats of paint are usually sufficient, but feel free to apply more until you achieve your desired look.

How to remove painted wallpaper

If you’ve previously painted your wallpaper but fancy a new change altogether, follow our three simple methods below to successfully remove it.

The fabric softener method

This is a straightforward method that involves using a mixture of one-part fabric softener and three-parts warm water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spritz the entire wallpapered walls. Leave it to sit for around 15 minutes before using a scraper to gently remove the wallpaper.

The white vinegar method

White vinegar does a great job of getting rid of stubborn painted wallpaper. Simply fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and warm water and give it a good shake. Apply all over the walls and leave for 15 minutes before grabbing a scoring tool to lift the paper off.

The steamer method

A wallpaper steamer is a handy tool to rid walls of old paper. It works by heating up hot water and pushing steam through the paper’s layers to loosen the adhesive. You can then peel off the loosened paper yourself. When using a steamer, start at the top of the wall and work your way down. It’s a good idea to put a dust sheet on the floor to collect the pieces.