How To Paint Over Wallpaper? Complete Guide

  • By: Artistic Bees
  • Time to read: 15 min.
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Often, the walls of our homes are already covered with wallpapers. But you might want to redecorate it yourself! So, if you want to learn how to paint over wallpaper, you should definitely read this guide!

To paint over wallpapers, firstly, you must clean the wallpaper properly. Then apply adhesive and prime it up properly. After it dries off, you can apply a coat and then another, consecutively, to finish off your paint!

As a beginner at this, you need to understand the basics of painting over wallpapers. Also, it would be best to have a clear idea about the steps of doing it, the upsides and downsides of painting over wallpapers, and the importance of using primers. So, to enlighten yourself more, please read the entire article on painting over wallpaper.

Steps Of Painting Over A Wallpaper

Painting over wallpaper can sound tedious. But in reality, if you follow some very basic steps, you can easily redecorate your walls with colorful paint!

However, due to lack of knowledge, there are some common mistakes that people often make. If you have a complete guide to follow, then this won’t be much trouble. Firstly, let’s get to know the tools you will require to complete the task.

Here is a list of the equipment that you may need:

  • Eye safety goggles
  • A mild soap or detergent
  • Gloves
  • Cotton clothes or protective clothing for you
  • Dusting cloth or brush
  • Adhesive for the loose corners
  • Small flat and angled brushes as per the sizes you require
  • Tape for painting edges. Painter’s tapes are the best!
  • If necessary, rollers
  • Primers
  • Finally, the thing which started it – a tub of paint!

Now, I will highlight the steps and provide a step-by-step guide here on how to paint over wallpaper. So, please read the next part to know more about it!

Painting equipment

Step One: Covering Edges And Breaks

Whichever wall you choose to paint or redo, make sure the wallpaper is smoothly and evenly applied at all edges. Check thoroughly to see if there is any loophole. Any rough edges better are smoothened out as well.

If there are loose edges, get some adhesive yourself and reapply to these areas. Make sure the ends are perfectly attached. Dry the glue well. Otherwise, when you start to apply a coat, the water content of the paint will enter into these gaps. It will eventually ruin the texture of your painting.

So, you can understand how important it is to fix every corner and edge. For best results, try to buy high-end, long-lasting adhesives instead of using ordinary glue. It will ensure proper fixation.

Step Two: Make Sure Your Walls Are Cleaned Well

The very common mistake most people make here is that they apply coats of paint without cleaning their walls. Many people don’t realize the importance of cleaning. Even if your wallpaper looks fresh and lively, it’s essential to clean it once before you apply paint.

Actually, there are millions of microorganisms on the surface of these walls. These are so minute that they are invisible to your naked eyes. Furthermore, applying wet paint to a layer of already harboring microbes only worsens the situation! The damp media is actually a good culture environment for bacteria, fungi, etc.

Gradually, after applying a coat or two, you will notice some white or green growths on the wall after some days. This is nothing but flaring microbes. Basically, it was you who created a better environment for their propagation!

In fact, even if you don’t apply paint, it is mandatory that you keep your wallpaper clean. Otherwise, you and your family might contract the same and suffer from microbial diseases!

So, the wise thing to do here is always to keep the wallpaper clean. The easiest way to keep it clean is to vacuum the wallpaper whenever you clean. However, if you haven’t done it in a while, then don’t worry. You can do it now! Get your vacuum done before you start to paint. You can vacuum on any kind of wallpaper.

For Coated And Uncoated Wallpapers, Read This!

Now, if you have uncoated wallpaper, try using wallpaper dough. Wallpaper doughs can be bought from any local paint store. It is so convenient to use. If you rub it or knead it over the dirty wallpaper, only that side absorbs all the dirt molecules. This leaves you with wallpapers as good as new!

Also, for coated wallpapers, you can use a sponge to clean them. Use mild soapy water and rub it over with a sponge. The dirt will come off quickly! Try to do it in a vertical direction. Use sponges that have the capacity to break down grease. Some people also recommend using mild TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) to clean wallpapers.

If you’re not sure whether your wallpaper is coated or uncoated, try this to find out. Just simply choose any hidden edge or corner that usually doesn’t draw attention. Now dampen it a little with water. If the wallpaper absorbs the water properly, you have an uncoated one.

However, if the wallpaper doesn’t absorb any amount of water or doesn’t bleed, chances are you have a coated one. The coating prevents it from absorbing any liquid and repels the water molecules. Actually, these wallpapers are suitable for temperate zones. Whatever the type of your wallpaper, make sure you appropriately clean your wallpaper in this step.

Step Three: Cover Baseboards And Margins

To have a pro finish, the wise choice would be to get some painter’s tape and apply a layer on the baseboards and door margins. If you are doing just a bedroom wall, maybe you won’t be needing to cover any door trims or window panels. But if there are doors and windows on the wall, you definitely should mask the edges.

Basically, painter’s tapes are available at any local store, Walmart or Amazon. Even if you don’t have painter’s tape, regular masking or duct tape can also serve the purpose. Although, the wisest thing would be to buy painter’s tape. They are made for this kind of setting.

So, use a big bundle and cover all the baseboards and doors and windows as much as you can. Otherwise, the painting will spill off at the corners, and all your hard work will go in vain! You may even have to redo your wall or buy an extra bucket of white paint to mark out the edges.

Thus, why take the extra burden when you can easily find some masking tape within your arm’s reach! So, make sure you have sealed the edges entirely with the tape.

Step Four: Use A Good Primer On Your Wallpaper

Usually, any kind of paint will require a good quality primer as its base. Like the kind of base, we apply before putting on makeup foundations! The primer ensures the surface is smooth and even. The paint can dry off and set well if you prime your wallpaper nicely.

Not all wallpaper materials will absorb all kinds of paints equally. There are differences among the contents and compositions of various pigments. There are water-based paints, oil paints, etc.

In this case, for primers, use an oil-based primer. It is due to the fact that if you use water-based primers, the water content will dampen the wallpaper. Eventually, the wallpaper will come off its adhesive. Whatever you do, you won’t even be able to apply paints in such a case!

Although, if you use an oil-based primer, the oil molecules won’t easily absorb the wallpaper. They have a greater tendency to repel the surface. Ultimately, the wallpaper won’t dampen either! So, priming with an oil-based primer is the best solution.

In this step, make sure you have opened all doors and windows before applying the primer. The gas evolved by the chemicals can be harmful to you. Take your own safety measures. Wear protective eye shields, face masks, clothes, covers, etc., to maintain your safety.

Now, with an angled brush or the regular paintbrush, apply a coat of the oil primer. Apply nicely and uniformly. Give it enough time to dry off. Naturally, oil primers tend to take more time to dry. So, please wait until it dries off. After it dries, your wallpaper is ready to be painted!

Step Five: Apply The First Coat Of Your Paint

Now, it is time for the most crucial step. No matter how eco-friendly your paint is, always take your own safety measures. The gaseous fumes coming from the paint chemicals contain heavy metals. It can be carcinogenic in the long run.

So, if you have a long history of exposure to paint or paintwork and never used any precautions, then you need to be more careful! Wear all the protective items of clothing you need, and then apply the first layer.

For the little corners and cracks and crevices, try to use smaller-sized angled brushes. You don’t have to be an expert to do this part. Just throw on some easy, simple strokes. However, the door trims and window panels must be done with great care.

For the more significant areas or most of it, I suggest using a roller. Nowadays, you can find rollers in every store. So, use a roller and start from any side. Roll on the paint. In fact, rollers can cover a greater surface within a short time. Hence, this is why most people prefer rollers to brushes!

Brushes can be exhausting as you have to move a lot and do a lot of handwork. So, use a good roller. For the first coat, avoid using illusion rollers. The first coat should be a fundamental plain coat. Apply it nicely and give it enough time to dry off. Always make sure the room is completely well ventilated with all doors and windows open. Otherwise, it won’t be long before you contract any illness!

So, open all the doors and windows whenever you work with paint. Some people can’t tolerate the smell of paint. For them, it is best advised to stay away from these kinds of work.

Using the primer should make this step very smooth and even. But if you live in a rainy area, and unfortunately, if it rains, you have to wait longer for the paint to dry off.

Step Six: Like A Pro, Finish Off With Another Coat!

Almost all kinds of paint require multiple coats to set properly. Often, the color may not come out perfectly if you apply a single coat. The durability of single coats is contradictory as well.

So, to have a pro matte finish, just do it once more, all over again. Apply another coating of the same paint. Sometimes, the wallpaper underneath can be of bold or dark colors. This may make your first coating look dull. So, applying a second coat is an urgent need here!

Second coats can take longer to dry off. But you shouldn’t go for a second coat until your first coat has dried off completely. Because applying another wet layer on top of the first damp layer will not count as a second coat. It will only blend in with the first layer you painted.

Some paints come with the manufacturer’s instructions. So, you can see from there how long it will take to dry. However, painting on wallpapers and painting on walls are definitely not the same thing. Both have different time variations.

Step Seven: Remove Tapes

Now, you definitely do not want to leave off the painter’s tape or masking tapes at the edges. Although, you won’t be able to reuse these tapes. But wait until everything has dried off totally. After that, start peeling off the tapes.

There is a rule for removing the tapes. As a general rule, go gently, do it slowly and hold it at an angle of 45 degrees. Usually, you can do it after an hour or two, depending on when you started painting.

Take great care so that you don’t ruin the paint underneath. Also, don’t rush and just pull at a stretch with all your might! You will only ruin the finish, and your entire hard work will go down the drain. The edges are visible even from a distance because that is where the contrast of painting starts.

So, if it looks ugly even from a distance, your entire work will be worthless. So, go slow and do it nicely. After you remove the tapes, your job is done! Ta-da! You have successfully painted over the wallpaper!

Is It Okay To Paint Over Wallpaper?

To be fair, painting over wallpapers has both its upsides and downsides. In fact, some situations may arise when there is no other way left for you than to paint over the wallpaper!

Wallpapers come in different designs and textures. The easiest solution to come up with when you don’t want to paint is just to put on some fancy wallpapers. Personally, wallpapers are my favorite! However, if you’re going to paint your walls, it can look equally mesmerizing!

A lot of people often want to know if painting over wallpapers is a wise choice to make or not! So, I want to point out the good and bad sides of it. Continue reading the next part to find out more.

Upsides Of Painting Over Wallpapers

Sometimes the walls can have breakouts, and the wallpapers become dampened. Notably, this happens in areas where there is a temperate climate or it rains a lot. In these cases, you can quickly go to the market, buy a tub of paint and do it yourself!

In fact, painting yourself saves a lot more time and money than redoing the wallpaper. Changing wallpapers can be exhausting sometimes. With just half the cost, you can paint and make different textures on your wall.

Moreover, if you already have piles of wallpapers stacked one over the other, forcible removal may cause damage to your walls. In fact, some homeowners have reported that the plaster comes off. So, in such cases, it is best to paint over the wallpaper.

Also, some people don’t know the proper rules for installing wallpaper. So, they tend to put the wrong amount of adhesive or without adequate priming. It can make things a lot messier! Hence, you can just paint a coat over it without stripping off and making a mess yourself!

Downsides Of Painting Over Wallpapers

Actually, I could jot down a thousand reasons why painting over wallpapers isn’t a good idea. Many scientific reasons support this matter.

Truth be told, when you install a new wallpaper, you have to use some paste. The paste contains water. So, when you apply a fresh coat of paint over it, this will weaken the adhesive force between the wallpaper and the wall. Ultimately, the wallpaper might come off, and your paint will look worse than ever!

It actually happens due to a law of physics. You know, the presence of water can make all the difference. The force between the water molecules weakens the adhesive bonds between the wallpaper and the drywall.

All these might not happen instantaneously. It might take some time, maybe a month or a few. However, the application of paint layers over the seams of the wallpaper may make the seams more prominent. It will leave you with a lousy finish!

To be honest, it’s always better to remove old wallpapers and install new ones. Even if it costs you a wee bit much, it will be beneficial for you in the long run.

Don’t Paint Over The Wallpaper In These Conditions

Often, adverse weather conditions can dampen the wallpaper. This may cause the weakening of adhesive in places. So, after a few days, you may notice that the wallpaper has started to peel off in different areas. Commonly, this occurs in fabric-made wallpapers. In particular, the fabric-vinyl wallpapers tend to peel more. Vinyl exhibits this property.

So, when there is peeling off at certain places, it is not safe to apply another coat over it. Chances are your coating won’t dry properly, and there will be areas with lumps of paint all over. Just imagine how disgusting that can look! So, if you notice peeling in spots, try to remove the wallpaper first. Then go stepwise to have a smooth finish!

Should You Always Use A Primer Before Painting?

We recommend that you always use a primer before painting over the wallpaper —the primer, just like its name, primes the wall for the application of your coats of paint.

An oil-based primer is the best choice in this regard. All painting experts suggest that whether you have coated or uncoated wallpaper, you should first apply a base of an oil-based primer.

The paint you bought contains water. This water has a greater tendency to be absorbed by any soft or smooth surface. If you use a water-based primer here, you are just adding more to the water contents of your wall.

It is common sense to all that no wet things will hold adhesive at all. You can explain this in a scientific way. The bond among the water molecules is tight and adherent. When you apply an oil-based primer, the molecules of the oil primer cannot pair up with those of the water molecules.

Everyone understands that wet things will not hold adhesive at all. You can explain this in a scientific way. The bond among the water molecules is tight and adherent. When you apply an oil-based primer, the molecules of the oil primer cannot pair up with those of the water molecules.

In addition, the water molecules cannot leave their chemical bonds and bind with oil. This is why water and oil never mix. So, this prevents over damping and over moistening of the wallpaper in question. Using an oil-based primer is the safest way to get your walls primed.

But if you don’t use a primer, it’s not like your paint won’t set or dry. It will, but the finishing won’t be as beautiful as the former one. Also, the paint may not be smooth, and the rough edges and textures may become visible at certain places. It will ultimately create a very ugly finish. Furthermore, the drying time can be greatly increased!

So, always try to use a good oil-based primer if you are using water-based paints. It is for the safety and beauty of your painting and your wall!

Painting Over Wallpapers Vs. Replacing Wallpapers

Naturally, you would think, why would I go for the extra burden of removing old wallpaper, cleaning the walls, priming them, and applying adhesive! When you could easily use a coat of paint over it!

Replacing wallpapers can be your right call if you are shifting to a new home or just buying a new house! Water-resistant coated wallpapers are also available on the market with a good finish.

Experts worldwide and even the experienced people who left reviews suggest that replacing the wallpaper is always a better choice. Truth be told, replacing wallpapers is healthy for your wall. In fact, you can customize or choose as per your design.

Just spend a few dollars, and the wallpapers are good to go for several years. Although, painting once can offer the same benefit. However, painting over stacks of wallpapers won’t provide you with the same kind of perks. You may have to redo your wall once in a while. In fact, no one would recommend painting over an already ruined wallpaper!

But some conditions cannot be denied when changing or replacing wallpapers becomes less significant. For example, maybe you didn’t put the wallpaper in the first place. You just moved into a new house and saw several stacks of wallpaper, one over the other, on the walls.

These stacks and piles are very hard to remove. In fact, if it has stayed here for a while, chances are you will end up damaging the plaster of the wall while removing it. So, there might be no other way than to apply a base coat and then some layers over it in such cases.

Furthermore, painting yourself is much easier and saves a whole damn lot of time and money. You can really do it yourself at home without any assistance. Sometimes, it can be a temporary solution to a big problem coming up!

Always try to do a small patch test before you start doing the entire wall. It will only help you understand how the painting will look in the future. Also, you cannot paint over vinyl-fabric wallpapers. So, choose wisely as per your own situation and own requirements.

Best Paint To Use Over Wallpapers

There are some variations in opinions regarding this matter. But as a general rule, most people would recommend using water-based paints. Water-based paints are good to go with the primers and adhesives used on and under the wallpapers, respectively.

Besides, for textured wallpapers, contract matte paints can be better choices. The paint needs to go deep into the furrows, especially if you have some troughs and wrinkles on the wallpaper. So, in such cases, you should use paint that can ensure one hundred percent coverage.

In short, solvent-based paints are the best for painting over wallpapers. So, if you are buying a new tub, please double-check the composition. The base must be either water or solvent for your own convenience. Otherwise, you won’t have a good finish, and your paintwork will look disgusting!


For most people, who have no clue about wallpapers or paintings, it can be hard to understand the concept of painting over wallpaper. All you need here is an instruction guide to guide you through the entire process. So, if you follow this article, I believe you will become an expert at painting over wallpapers!

I hope this article has helped you to gain some perspectives regarding painting over wallpapers. Thank you for reading the entire article with patience. So, don’t kill any more time, buy your tub of paint, and give it a go today! Have fun painting over your wallpaper!

Also, check this article How To Clean Walls Before Painting?