How to Paint Over Wallpaper: Everything You Need to Know

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    Wallpaper has long been used to add flair and unique patterns and textures to any space. It can also be a convenient way to hide imperfections on your wall as well.

    But over the years, personal tastes and design trends change, and you may find yourself wanting a change of pace with a fresh coat of paint in your wallpapered rooms. But does that mean you have to remove all of the wallpaper first before painting? In some circumstances, it’s a good idea to do so.

    But you also might be wondering “can you paint over wallpaper?” and the answer is actually a resounding yes! Painting over wallpaper does indeed work and it may be the best idea for you if you weren’t the one to put up the current wallpaper.

    We’ve compiled some tips and tricks below for deciding when it may be appropriate to paint over wallpaper (and when it might not be a good idea). Take a look to find out how you may be able to quickly refresh your interior walls.

    Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?

    For the most part, removing the wallpaper before painting is the best way to go. Just ask any interior house painting expert out there. However, there are always exceptions, and painting wallpaper walls might be appropriate in some circumstances. For example, if removing the wallpaper would harm the wall underneath, then painting over wallpaper is the way to go. This is especially true if the wallpaper was installed over unfinished drywall or plaster, or if there are so many layers of wallpaper that it would be an incredibly huge hassle to remove.

    Pros and Cons of Painting Over Wallpaper

    While it may be a good option for you to paint over wallpaper in your home, there are inevitably going to be drawbacks to it. Let’s go over the Pros and Cons of painting over wallpaper.


    • It’s a major time-saver.
    • It’s very DIY-friendly in most cases.
    • Wallpaper may be covering up flaws in the wall.


    • If the wall isn’t prepared correctly, the wallpaper could peel and lift off the paint.
    • Wallpaper seams and texture may show through the paint.
    • It can look low-quality, depending on the quality of the original wallpaper job.

    When Should I Paint Over Wallpaper?

    It’s not always ideal to remove wallpaper before applying a fresh coat of paint. Consider the following downsides to removing the wallpaper first:

    • You aren’t a homeowner yet: Renters should think twice before choosing to put in time and effort into a space that is only temporarily theirs. Tearing off the wallpaper would be a painstaking task, but you can still make a change by painting directly on top of the wallpaper. As long as you have the landlord’s permission, you can paint over the wallpaper for a fresh, new look.
    • The walls are already damaged: Depending on what your original walls are made of, it may do more harm than good to first strip away the wallpaper. Doing so may damage the structure of the wall and leave behind a gluey residue. You can start by testing a small portion of the wallpaper to see the wall’s condition behind it.
    • You don’t want to put in the time or effort: Maybe you’re renovating a space that isn’t your forever home, or maybe you simply don’t want to put in the backbreaking effort and time associated with first removing the wallpaper before painting. This is also a reasonable approach if you are under a time crunch.
    • You like the texture, but not the wallpaper itself: With so many incredible wallpaper choices on the market, if you like the wallpaper’s texture but not its color, painting over it allows you the best of both worlds.

    When Not to Paint Over Wallpaper

    There is some wallpaper, no matter the circumstances, that simply should not be painted over. Paint over wallpaper that is peeling is simply a no-go. In addition, certain types of wallpaper such as fabric-backed vinyl or heavily textured wallpaper are not good to paint over.

    But here’s the good news. Usually, the types of wallpaper that aren’t good to paint over are quite easy to remove. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re wondering can wallpaper be painted over, try to remove it first. If it comes off easily, keep going. Removing wallpaper may not be the most fun thing in the world, but you know what’s even worse? Removing wallpaper that has been painted over.

    What to Consider Before Painting Over Wallpaper

    Here are some final considerations about painting over wallpaper to keep in mind.

    It’s a Short-Term Solution

    If you know that you’ll take the wallpaper down eventually anyway, you may want to consider doing it now. Painted wallpaper is possible to take down, but it may be even more difficult. Don’t create additional work for yourself in the future if your long-term goal is to remove the wallpaper anyway.

    The Perfect Finish Starts With You

    Breathe new life into your space. Entrust Oahu Pro Painters with your property and expect results of the highest quality.

    Let Our Professionals Help You Out

    With so much time and physical energy going into painting over wallpaper, the thought of completing this task on your own may give you pause. If you’d rather invest in a professional painting service to ensure the job is done right the first time, feel free to contact us!

    At Oahu Pro Painters, we cater to all of your painting needs. Serving both businesses and residences on Oahu, our team is committed to providing you with professional results that will last.

    We’re even happy to provide you with a free quote! Schedule a free estimate with us to get started.


    Why is my wallpaper bubbling when I paint it?

    You probably didn’t apply an oil-based primer before painting, which is an absolutely critical step. The best primer for wallpaper is an oil-based primer, as it helps to seal the adhesive in the paper away from the liquid in the paint. The moisture in the paint can often loosen the adhesion of wallpaper to the wall, causing bubbles to form.

    How long should I wait before painting over paintable wallpaper?

    If you’ve gone the paintable wallpaper route, allow at least 36 hours after it’s been installed to paint over it. This should allow enough time for the adhesive to try to avoid bubbling.

    Can you paint over a wallpaper border?

    You certainly can paint over a wallpaper border, but make sure you’re using enough paint. Using the thickness of the paint can help to cover up the border edge.

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