Should I Paint over Wallpaper?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2020
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When redecorating a room, one of the challenges is to decide what to do with the walls. Traditional wisdom dictates that if wallpaper is present, it must be removed and the walls cleaned thoroughly before applying any new type of wall covering or paint. While there are certainly situations where removing old wallpaper is necessary to create the desired effect, that is not always the case. Here are a few tips to help you know when and how to paint over wallpaper.

One of the first issues you must address if you want to paint over wallpaper is the condition of the current wall covering. Are there any spots where the paper has loosened from the wall? If so, this tells you there is potential for air pockets developing in other areas of the wall. The presence of air pockets will show up much easier on the painted surface of the wallpaper than they do currently with the wallpaper print. In this scenario, it is a good idea to remove the paper rather than try to paint over wallpaper.


Another consideration is the texture of the wallpaper. While many wall coverings are completely flat, there are some types that have raised sections that enhance the appearance of the print or design of the paper. While texture is often attractive with wallpaper, it is less helpful with painted walls. Run your hand over the wallpaper and determine just how smooth the surface is. If the wallpaper is flat and adhered well to the wall, then you can proceed to paint over wallpaper.

One last thing to check is for any small rips or tears in the paper. It may take some time to inspect the walls properly, but it is important. Small blemishes of this type tend to blend in with a wallpaper pattern, but will become glaringly obvious when you paint over wallpaper. Make sure there are no rips and tears that will mar your paint job and you will be fine.

While wall coverings come in both paper and vinyl types these days, it is always a good idea to use a primer before applying the paint. The primer accomplishes two things. First, it helps to seal the paper from the moisture of the paint. This is especially important if you are painting over paper and not vinyl wall coverings. Second, the primer helps to effectively cover any designs on the wallpaper that would be likely to bleed through the paint. This means you are less likely to see faint hints of flowers, stripes and other design accents of the wallpaper once the paint job is complete.

Once the primer is in place, allow it to dry thoroughly. At that point, you can begin applying paint to the sealed wallpaper. If you follow these simple steps, there is a good chance that your paint and wallpaper will work nicely together without any need to remove wallpaper from the walls.


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Post 2

need to clean the mold out, then do whatever you choose next

Post 1

I would like to know if painting over wallpaper would seal in any mold that is under the wallpaper. My bathroom was painted by the previous owner and there is wallpaper under it. I am highly mold sensitive and have not been feeling too good in this new house despite a filtration system on the AC.

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