In Drywall, How To, Interior House Painting, Painters Advice, Painting Tips, Renovations, Repairs

Wallpaper was and is a good way to cover up any imperfections on an interior wall or to add pizzazz to decorating a space, but once a few years have passed it will start to look outdated and you may no longer like that floral pattern or geometrical shapes that once was the trend.

Modern homes today mostly have painted walls, but if you have wallpaper in any room and want to remove it or paint over it, you should know it can be done with a few practical tips and guidelines you can bring that outdated look from the 70′ into the trend of 2020.

patterned wallpaper on interior wall of room

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper

We have good news, it is possible to paint over the wallpaper without removing it.  Although not recommended by professional painters

Before painting over wallpaper ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is the wallpaper peeling or bubbling anywhere on the walls?
  2. Is the wallpaper loose in any area?
  3. Does the wallpaper have holes or tears?
  4. Is the wallpaper recently installed or has it been there for years?
  5. Is the colour of the wallpaper dark?
  6. Is it a textured wall paper or smooth surface?

These are all questions you need to ask before you begin painting over wallpaper.   Here are reasons why asking yourself these questions before painting over wallpaper actually matter.

If you have small bubbles, holes, tears or peeling of the wallpaper because of it not being properly installed to begin with, then you can try to apply some glue to the back of those bubbles, holes or peeled areas to try and smooth it out .

A light sanding of the surface will smooth out any additional glue.  Although not in any way a guarantee that you will get professional looking painting results in the end, but it’s worth a try if these are small spots.

All joint seams need to be properly sealed and smoothed out. You can do this by using a seam sealer.  Apply a small amount to the wallpaper, press it into place and hold.  Wipe away any excess sealer with a damp sponge and leave it to dry.

If the holes, bubbles, tears or peeling wallpaper is larger than what some glue patch up can fix then our best recommendation is to remove the wallpaper completely.  To paint over wallpaper, clean the wallpaper first and then apply primer and sealer.

oil based primer for house painting

Know that you can run a risk of painting over wallpaper with moisture in the paint.  Painting over wallpaper will cause the paper to peel especially if a paint sealer is not applied first.  Painting an oil based primer like a Kilz primer product


Remember that there is always a risk when painting over wallpaper. You will run the risk of moisture in the paint once you begin painting over the wallpaper will cause the paper to actually peel off. You may want to paint a sealer first to prevent this from happening.  An oil based primer  such as the recommended Kilz primer product which ensures proper coverage before applying any paint colour.  The DIY network has some very useful information if you want to learn more about how to fix common wallpaper problems

Removing Wallpaper

Removing wallpaper is time consuming, messy and very frustrating.  Not to say it can not be done but knowing ahead of time how difficult it can be can be the reason you will want to call in professional interior house painters the the experience and know how to get it done for you.

Painting companies will have the necessary equipment and materials to remove the wallpaper as well as more experience and knowledge since without a doubt they have done this more than once.
Remember that if you do decide to do it yourself you will need to buy or rent the equipment and materials yourself.  You will need at minimum a putty knife, wallpaper glue, a sanding block, just to do the repairs.

If you have to remove it completely you will need to either purchase or rent from a local home improvement store a wallpaper removal steamer and or roller, along with other necessary products to ensure all the glue is removed before any paint is applied.  Not doing the necessary pre-painting prep work after removing the wallpaper will leave you with an unfinished, rough finish in the end that will have you calling on professional painters.

You will also need a lot of patience, time and elbow grease to get it done. Removing wallpaper from the walls is tedious, messy and frustrating and you may cause damage to the walls when attempting to peel it off.

The drywall under the wallpaper will most likely get damaged from either scraping too hard, or from the actual glue having been attached to it for many many years.  You will have to do drywall repair work before you begin painting walls.

Once you’ve established whether the imperfections of the wallpaper can be fixed or if you will be removing the wallpaper all together there are just a couple of other things to keep in mind before painting over wallpaper.

If we go back to questions 5 and 6 above, which are is the colour of the wallpaper dark, and is there a texture to the wallpaper than the following needs be considered.

If you are painting over a dark coloured wallpaper then you will need to use more paint as it will take more than 2 coats of paint to finish to get complete coverage.  You may find this article on how to paint the interior of a House helpful as it provides a breakdown of everything you need to calculate the costs for buying all the tools like the paint brush to the paint and everything in between.

If the wallpaper is of a lighter colour you may be lucky and have to paint a primer first then 2 coats of paint to finish.  This is not inclusive of any texture on the wallpaper for if you do have any texture you may want to remove the wallpaper without painting over it as any paint you apply over the texture will only amplify the pattern and texture of that wallpaper.

In the end if you want an absolute smooth finish to the walls you should remove the wallpaper entirely as recommended by local painters.

If it proves to be too much as a DIY project, than look to hire the painting services of an interior house painter as they will have the knowledge and experience of removing the wallpaper, repairing drywall, and many other services beyond paint, along with their knowledge of paint products.

Helpful Tips

Painting over wallpaper is not as easy as some diy shows will explain.  If you are convinced you want to tackle this on your own, here is more information and House Painting Tips to help guide you along the way.

Whether its painting over wallpaper or removing wallpaper call on the right painting contractor to help you get it done faster and without the headache.


This post was originally published on Aug 20, 2017 and edited on Mar 28, 2020