Painting over wallpaper

By Dulux Decorator Centre on 11 March 2020 in FAQ
We've put together another update to date guide on paint over wallpaper, full of hints and tips, you can find it here.

We always recommended removing old wallpaper before painting where possible, however this isn’t always the best course of action. In the article below we will discuss some scenario’s where painting over wallpaper would be beneficial. As always, your safest bet is consulting a professional painter & decorator to advise you on the best course of action.

Sometimes, removing wallpaper from a wall can highlight flaky paint and brickwork that lay underneath, pulling off old wallpaper can really add to this issue, creating a much more expensive and lengthy job than simply painting over the paper. This is important to consider if the property you’re in is dated or you don’t know what the surface is like underneath.

Wallpaper Range

By leaving the paper on the wall, you can be sure that the brickwork, plaster or drywall will remain intact in its current state, allowing you to paint faster and produce a more consistent finish.

It’s also a very time-consuming task, removing paper means stripping the entire wall as well as sanding to make sure that the surface is flat and blemish free to paint over. If the paper you currently have is already flat, finished to a good standard and joined well, painting over it is a much wiser decision than you’d think.

Our product of choice: Zinsser Wallpaper Cover Up

Wallpaper Cover-Up is an all-in-one primer, sealer and stain blocker. A high hiding primer that obliterates wallpaper print with a smooth matt off-white finish. Can be used under any coloured emulsion.

It's worth noting that this will leave the wall with a nice, flat matt finish. To get the most protection possible, and if you're adding some colour, we'd recommened painting over the wall again in Dulux Trade Diamond Matt.

Things to consider before you paint over your wallpaper

  • Is the wallpaper in good condition? Wallpaper that is already loose, ripped or suffers from damp/mould should be removed. Painting over the wallpaper will not hide these issues and may cause bigger issues down the line. By painting over it, you’re potentially creating a much bigger issue in the future.
  • Will you re-decorate soon? Wallpaper that has been painted over is much more difficult to remove and risks the issue of pulling off/damaging some of the underlying wall. This is something to be wary of in dated buildings that has exposed brickwork underneath.
  • Textured wallpaper? If your wallpaper has obvious raised texture pattern, its best avoided painting over it, simply because the pattern may come through. It is possible to skim coat over this, but that is better left to a professional and would warrant taking off the wallpaper regardless.

How to paint over wallpaper

Although it is as simple as painting a wall in theory, we’d recommend covering a few extra steps to make sure the finish is optimal, and avoid any surprises down the line.

  • Clean & wipe the wallpaper – Make sure the paper is free of debris and marks before you paint. It’s good practise to give it a wipe to remove any grease and will allow you to catch any missed fixtures or fittings. We have a range of cleaning products perfect for the job.
  • Potentially use a primer – If the colour of the wallpaper is very bold, or is of questionable quality on the surface, using a good primer will allow the paint a good base to sit on. We’d recommended using Zinsser Wallpaper Cover Up.
  • Cover the seams – Although the paint will normally cover the seams of the wallpaper, it can be good practise to smooth these out to avoid any issues once painting begins. Simply add a thin line of clear caulk around the perimeter of the walls, at the joint seam where the paper meets the floor and ceiling. This will help seal the edges and keep the paper from peeling after you've painted.

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Dulux Decorator Centre