How To Paint Over Wallpaper, Is It Easy?


How to paint over wallpaper is a simple process, but it involves a little more preparation work than that of a plain plastered wall. The involvement of a thorough clean(dependent on room the paper is in) and a good multi surface primer plus any extra repairs to the wallpaper have to be done prior to any painting.

Is Painting Over Wallpaper a Good Idea?

To paint over wallpaper has it’s PRO’s and CON’s but it all depends on…

The cost – Are you hiring someone to do the work? If you are stripping the wall it will add an extra days labour to the total price.

The condition of the wall – Do you know the condition of the plastered wall underneath the wallpaper? If it is bad the cost of a plasterer will also have to be included in the job too.

Time – For example, is the property a rental of yours and needs tenants asap? Stripping the walls would certainly keep the house off the market for a good week longer.

Are you a Tenant? – Majority of Landlords will allow you to decorate but won’t want you to remove the wallpaper.

If any of the above describe your situation, then yes it is a good idea to paint a wallpapered wall.

How Do I Prepare Wallpaper For Painting?

When preparing to paint over wallpaper there are FOUR things that need to be done before you lay your final choice of colour on the wall.

First, decided whether the wall needs a good clean using a sugar soap solution. In my experience the only wallpapered walls I give a good clean prior to painting is the kitchen walls and bathroom walls.

This is because of grease in the kitchen from cooking. Hot steam and oil cause a grease residue to build up on the walls.

The bathroom, splashing of soaps and shampoos etc, also deodorant and hairspray love to attach themselves to any surface they land on.

Any other room, I may clean around switches that have a lot of activity, like the light switch.

Secondly, inspect the wallpaper for damages and joins that are not stuck down or are showing signs that they are coming away from the wall.

Using a good wallpaper joint adhesive or caulk, lift the joint open with a 5 in one tool or knife and gently squeeze or brush the adhesive on to the wall, then gently smooth down the wallpaper using a damp sponge or cloth.

Thirdly, go round all the walls that the wallpaper is on and check for gaps,round the skirting, door frames etc and fill using caulk and a caulking gun.

Fourth, paint 2 coats of wallpaper primer onto the wallpapered walls. Wait for the recommended drying time and then start painting the walls with your desired colour.

Is Wallpaper Primer Necessary?

The bloke down the pub may tell you to paint a few coats of emulsion on the wallpaper as a primer and then paint your chosen colour after, and guess what? he couldn’t be more wrong.

Wallpaper needs sealing with a wallpaper primer, they are oil based and once dry will seal the paper from bubbling and lifting when you paint your water-based emulsion on to the wallpaper.

Using emulsion as a primer has the same effects as a wet sponge, the paper will soak the water up from the emulsion and begin to bubble and peel.

Something you don’t want, So yes, a wallpaper primer is necessary.

What Is The Best Primer For Wallpaper?

The primer I use, and have great results with is Zinsser Wallpaper Cover Up.

Its my go to wallpaper primer because it dries quickly, so a second coat can be applied in no time. The tin says 4 hours but from experience usually within 2 hours (dependent on conditions).

My favorite thing about Zinsser Wallpaper Cover Up is how good it is on dark wallpaper print, 2 coats and its literally a plain wall again.

I do alot of painting for the elderly and they love their wallpaper (I would say this is the best road test for any primer). Zinsser has never let me down when covering all kinds of paper and even dark wallpaper patterns.

The only downside is the odour.

Make sure all the windows in the room are open, and plan to apply it when the kids are at school or when nobody is about.

If your pregnant I wouldn’t use it, or be in the house when its being applied.

The V.O.C (volatile organic compounds) is very high and damaging to your health and the baby if your not careful.

I always purchase it from Amazon because my local DIY and Screwfix don’t always have it in stock.

I’ve used a cheaper alternative before and didn’t like the results (curse Screwfix and B&Q), but if your budget is tight I would still recommend it, it did the job, just not as well.

Do You Have To Prime Paintable Wallpaper?

You do not have to prime paintable wallpaper, paintable wallpaper can be painted over many times without the need of a primer.

You may need to use a primer in the future (colour too dark, stain on wall), just be aware that primers are known to fill the pattern too much and cause a less dramatic look from the paper.

How Long Should Wallpaper Dry Before Painting?

Have you just hung some paintable wallpaper and are unsure when you can start painting it?

It is a good rule of thumb to wait at least 36 hours for the wall, the paste and the paper to dry.

If you paint anytime before the 36 hours has passed, you run the risk of the paper bubbling, peeling and in some cases it may begin to peel itself away from the wall.

Did This Post Help?

It can be daunting learning how to paint over wallpaper, but I hope this post has answered all of your questions?

If your still unsure or have more questions about the whole process please leave a comment below.

Each and every week I put my heart and soul into providing you with great content to help with any DIY jobs around the home.

If you think this post could help someone you know, please share.

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