Has anyone ever painted over wallpaper?

Has anyone ever painted over wallpaper?

This weekend I was watching one of my favorite home make over shows–Sell this House–and my girl-crush Tanya Memme was explaining how they were going to paint over wallpaper because it had been applied to the wallboard without the wallboard being primed or painted. If they had attempted to remove the wallpaper, the paper from the Sheetrock below would have come off too. After they had painted it, the walls looked good; but, of course, this was on television. In all the homes we’ve owned with wallpaper, we’ve always taken it down–letting loose a string of expletives while doing so, let me assure you–but I was wondering if anyone has attempted painting over wallpaper. If so, did it look good after? Could you tell you painted over wallpaper and not wallboard? Would you do it again??? (Ugly wallpaper pic courtesy of theledger.com)


P.S. There's some GREAT before and after pics on the Sell this House website!

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ModHomeEcTeacher on Apr 15, 2008:

Maven, I adhered some sort of thick wall stablizer stuff to a paneled wall so it could be painted and it has held pretty well.  However, I have seen other's painted wallpaper look like crapola.

I have a great invention for the look of wallpaper but no hassle, just can't get the old man to put up the dough for all the research. Ha!

THATPainterLady on Apr 02, 2008:

Paint is liquid and when liquid is added to wallpaper, the paper might
just come off the wall. It may come down in sheets or just bubble up in
some interesting places. If your wallpaper is stuck, I mean really
stuck and it's going to be damaging to the wall to take it down, then
you may want to paint.

Here is some really useful tips for painting over wallpaper

And if you think you might need to add a bit of flair to the paint job to distract from the fact that the paint is over wallpaper... faux painting over wallpaper is a very neat trick! But... try faux painting in an unnoticeable area first to see if it lifts or bubbles the paper.

Never let those cute wallpaper samples fool you. It's much easier
to change the theme of a room if you haven't committed yourself to a
theme wallpaper.

If you want themes, learn to paint or stencil on your walls. These can be painted over in a snap!


kestrel on Mar 26, 2008:

I did paint over some wallpaper in our kids bathroom.  Scrubbed it down and then gave it some wide blue and white stripes to make it look like the tent in this antique painting we have hanging nearby.   It looked great, even up close.  No wallpaper seems were visible.

However...about 6 months later the paint started peeling in some spots.  Small little spots here and there.  I had used Kilz like Nyrek suggested but even that came off in these spots.  The places where everything peeled seem to be random.  It was suggested that it may be places were the glue seeped through the cheap wallpaper the previous owners had used.

Some day when I have free time, and it's warm enough to open the windows again, I'm going to try "patching" the holes a few different ways to see what works best.  Even so it still does look nice.  It looks even closer to the antique tent with those holes so I guess I can pass them off as an attempt at authenticity.  ah well...


DIY Maven on Mar 26, 2008:

Jaeymee--'little red teapots' HA! It must me like looking at a bright light for too long and then seeing spots for awhile after!!! I hope the sensation eventually fades!

jaeymee on Mar 25, 2008:

We moved into a home from the 1920's and it had the most awful wallpaper in the kitchen it made me nauseous.  It had every color of the rainbow on it.  I coated it with about 3 coats of primer and 2 coats of a nice bright yellow (its a sunroom).  I swear I can still see little red teapots, but no one else can.  I think its because I was looking at it for so long. 

nyrek on Mar 22, 2008:

You can, in fact, paint over wallpaper. Most wallpaper's adhesive is a water based product.  Most people who have had problems with painting over wallpaper don't understand that and then they have the wallpaper actually peel away from the wall after they've applied the paint. So you can use an oil-based primer, such as Kilz. which creates a protective barrier between the wallpaper and teh paint. You can paint with a latex paint, and never have to worrry about the wallpaper below peeling. If you have already tried to peel some of the wallpaper, and have some texture issues on your wall...I've used up to three coats of Kilz, and you would never knwo there was wallpaper beneath it that was half ripped off.  "Autumn Heart" had an unfortunate experience...but if it is done properly, you should never have to worry about taking down the wallpaper after it's been painted. another few coats of Kilz...you're ready for more paint, wallpaper, or whatever you're in the mood for.

clyhoo on Mar 21, 2008:

My grandfather's living room had a foil wallpaper with a velvety design on it.  It was very 70's - silver foil with gold.  Funky.  But he painted over it with white paint and it turned into a textured white wall.

DIY Maven on Mar 21, 2008:

That's Home Heist, right? We don't get it down here.  

suzyrenovator on Mar 21, 2008:

That must be it!  Either that or for the purpose of television, it's the fastest fix they can come up with.  Colin & Justin would NEVER do something so basic!

DIY Maven on Mar 21, 2008:

Suzy--I've noticed that too--on British DIY shows. (Changing Rooms was the best!) Maybe it's a plaster wall thing. Do they have more plaster over there they we do here?

suzyrenovator on Mar 20, 2008:

The only time I've ever seen anyone paint wallpaper was on the tube - HGTV.  And for whatever reason, it's only been the British programs.  I think what they consider a cheap, quick fix for homeowners trying to sell, would be a nightmare for the new occupant.  It might look good on tv, but up close and personal I think it would stand out like a sore thumb.  Especially at the seams.

DIY Maven on Mar 20, 2008:

'...like tearing off scabs...' HA!! I love that!!

AutumnHeart on Mar 20, 2008:

Our house was covered, top top bottom, in wallpaper, all of which we tried to remove, some of which we absolutely could not (we ended up scraping and sand as much as we could on the master bedroom ceiling, and the middle bedroom was so bad that we beadboarded the entire room.


However, our wallaper was also directly over plaster.  In the parts where it was just one or two layers, it came off like butter with a steamer.  Unfortunately, in most cases the previous owners had wallpapered, painted, wallpapered again, painted twice, and wallpapered again.  And then painted some more.

Where the wallpaper was painted was nearly impossible to come off -- it took me two months just to do one room (the master bedroom) before I gave up on ever getting the ceiling back down to the plaster.

Whenever anyone tells me they're planning on painting over wallpaper, I curl up into a ball and cry.

beccajo on Mar 20, 2008:

um, i think you're not supposed to do it........

i personally love ripping wallpaper down. it's like tearing off scabs, without the permanent scarring.

HA. sorry. that's gross.

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