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Should I Paint Over Wallpaper?

calander Jul 15 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

Wallpaper can be a divisive subject for many homeowners. Some people love it while others can’t stand it. Regardless of how you feel about wallpaper more broadly, though, what should you do if your wallpaper begins to look outdated or wear down? Or, what if you simply want to change up the look of your interior space and paint the walls instead?

In these instances, conventional wisdom would suggest that you remove the old wallpaper before anything else. However, if you don’t have the right tools or expertise, wallpaper removal can be messy, time-consuming, and even damaging to your surfaces. You might wonder, then, if it’s more practical to just paint over your wallpaper instead.

So, should you paint over wallpaper? Well, maybe. The answer depends on a number of factors, which we will outline here.

Consider Color

Before anything else, ask yourself this: what is your vision for updating your wallpapered room? You’ll want to have an idea of what paint color(s) you plan on incorporating because this seemingly small decision can determine whether or not it’s wise to paint over your wallpaper. More specifically, if the paint color you plan on using is lighter than the color of your wallpaper, understand that more coats will be necessary to fully conceal the previous layer and allow the paint color to come through. If you or your interior painting services use a thick, high-quality paint, this issue won’t be as much of a factor. Still, it is easier to paint over wallpaper with a darker color than a lighter one.

Prepare and Repair the Surface

As is the case with any home interior painting effort, every surface you plan on painting must be properly cleaned, fixed up, and smoothed out. The same goes for wallpapered surfaces. However, preparing a surface with wallpaper can be extra challenging, especially if portions of the wallpaper are peeling from the surface. Gently dust and/or vacuum the surface, clean it with a damp sponge, re-affix any loosened or peeling seams, and ensure that the whole surface is secure and flat before moving on.

How Thick Is the Wallpaper’s Texture?

The more textured your wallpaper is, the more difficult it will be to paint over with an even, smooth coat. If, however, you’re willing to take some extra steps, you’ll need heavy grade lining paper to cover up the wallpaper and cover any imperfections. Keep in mind that applying this lining paper can be tricky in its own right, and you’ll end up with yet another layer over your surface, which can lead to issues down the line. Also, note that this technique might not work so well for deeply embossed wallpaper.

You’ll Need to Prime Before Painting

No matter what, always apply a coat of primer over the wallpaper before painting. Doing so will provide an extra layer of coverage (and color, if desired), provide a smoother canvas for the paint, seal the wallpaper in place, and help the interior house paint stick to the surface. Oil-based primers are often the best for this job.

Bonus Tip: Test a Small, Hidden Area First

If you want to paint over your wallpaper but you’re nervous about what the outcome might look like, do yourself a favor and perform the previous steps on a small, hidden area (i.e. behind the refrigerator or painting) to get a sneak peek and hone your technique. If you’re unhappy with the results, you might reconsider painting over your wallpaper or think about hiring home painting professionals to help.

The Verdict

So, should you paint over wallpaper? If you’re incorporating a darker color, willing to perform the necessary prep work, dealing with wallpaper that isn’t deeply textured, and have the right tools and products at your disposal, then yes, this option is worth considering. Otherwise, your best bet might be to have your wallpaper removed and start fresh with a bare surface instead.

Whichever path you choose, you’ll get the best results by working with a reliable painting company. Here at Nash Painting, we offer wallpaper removal services, but we can paint over most types of wallpaper as well. Let us work with you to find the right solution. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at (615) 829-6858 today!