How To Paint Wallpaper

How To Paint Wallpaper

How To Paint Wallpaper

Understanding the Nature of Wallpaper for Painting

Not all wallpapers are created equal, and it's essential to understand the specific type you're dealing with when deciding to paint over wallpaper. However, before plunging into the depths of wallpaper painting, it is important to recognize the fundamental nature of wallpaper and its compatibility with paint.

Type of Wallpaper

The first factor to consider is the type of wallpaper you have. For instance, vinyl wallpapers are typically not suitable for painting as they do not absorb paint, causing it to peel or chip over time. On the other hand, traditional paper-based wallpapers can often take paint quite well.

Surface Condition

The condition of the wallpaper surface also plays a significant role in the paint application. If the surface has started peeling or showing signs of wear and tear, it is better to remove the wallpaper before considering painting. Paint will not adhere properly to a damaged or unstable surface.

Preparing Wallpaper for Painting

If your wallpaper is smooth and in good condition, you might be ready for painting. However, preparation is key to successful results. Fill any holes or cracks with a suitable filler and sand the wallpaper surface to ensure it is utterly smooth. Any seams or edges should be securely glued down to prevent peeling after painting.


A crucial step often overlooked is priming. Using a primer can help seal the wallpaper and prevents the wallpaper's pattern from showing through after painting. A pigment-rich primer will also enhance the colour of your paint when applied.

Painting Techniques

The technique used to apply paint on wallpaper should differ from those employed for directly painted walls. Start with thin coats to avoid saturating the paper and allow the coat to dry fully before adding another one. Use quality brushes or rollers for even application.


Sometimes, one coat of paint just isn't enough. Using multiple layers usually results in a more opaque and professional-looking finish. Again, be mindful of the drying process and ensure each coat is completely dry before applying the next.


After completing the painting process, maintenance is relatively straightforward — clean your newly painted walls with a lightly damp cloth to maintain their new look over time. However, avoid scrubbing too hard as this might peel off the paint.

Remember, painting over wallpaper is a unique process that might require professional help if you've never done before. If unsure, don't hesitate to reach out to professional painters who can handle the task more precisely and efficiently.

Pre-paint Preparations for Your Wallpaper

Preparing wallpaper for paint involves more than simply loading your paintbrush with paint and starting to brush it on. Certain key steps must be followed in this crucial phase to ensure a smooth and professional finish.

Inspect and Repair the Wallpaper

The first step towards preparing your wallpaper for painting is a detailed inspection. Look out for any peeling corners, bubbles, or rips in the wallpaper. If you find any damage, repair it before you start painting. Peeling or bubbled wallpaper can be fixed by applying a suitable adhesive, then sealing it with a seam roller. Rips may require a patch repair.

Cleaning the Wallpaper

Cleaning your wallpaper before painting removes any dust particles and grease marks which can result in a poor paint finish. A mild cleaning solution and a sponge are sufficient for this step. Rinse the wall thoroughly with clean water afterwards and leave it to dry completely.

Sanding the Wallpaper

To provide a suitable surface for the paint to adhere to, lightly sand the wallpaper with a fine-grit sandpaper. After this, wipe the dust away with a damp cloth. The goal is not to remove the wallpaper but to simply create a slightly rough surface for the paint.

Applying Primer

Now your wall is clean and dry, it's time to apply a layer of primer. The primer effectively seals the wallpaper, preventing the absorption of paint and ensuring even coverage when you do apply the color. Use a paint roller to apply the primer evenly, and don't forget to allow the primer to fully dry before moving on to painting.

Taping Off

Before you start painting, remember to tape off the ceiling, baseboards, and any adjacent walls with painter's tape. This provides a clean edge and prevents paint from getting onto areas that you do not want to be painted.

Checking for Imperfections

After the primer has dried, view the wall from different angles to check for any imperfections. Imperfections and small holes can be filled with a thin layer of spackle. Sand the area smooth once the spackle is dry, and then you're ready to paint.

Choosing the Right Paint

While you can paint over wallpaper with almost any kind of paint, some types work better than others. Oil-based and latex paints are recommended because they are durable and provide a smooth finish. Choose a color that complements your home decor to create a beautiful and inviting atmosphere.

Choosing the Right Paint Type for Wallpaper

When painting over wallpaper, it's crucial to choose the right type of paint. With a wide variety of options available on the market, selecting the best paint can be complex. However, factors such as durability, finish, color selection, and price can significantly influence your choice.


Durability should be a primary factor when choosing paint for wallpaper. The right paint should be able to withstand common wear and tear in high-traffic areas, so consider using a durable acrylic paint for these spaces. These paints are easy to clean, making them an excellent option for children's rooms or kitchens.


When deciding on a finish, consider the appearance and maintenance of your walls. Some popular finish options include matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. For areas with a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms or kitchens, semi-gloss or gloss paints can provide a barrier against moisture damage. On the other hand, matte and eggshell finishes can give a sophisticated look to living rooms and bedrooms. Remember, the type of finish can also impact the appearance of your wallpaper, so choose wisely.

Color Selection

When painting over wallpaper, it's important to ensure that the paint color complements or contrasts well with the existing wallpaper design. It's recommended to have a swatch of your wallpaper available when selecting paint colors. If the wallpaper pattern is bold, opt for a subtle color paint. If your wallpaper is more neutral, bolder paint colors can add pop and character to your room.


Price is also an essential factor when choosing paint for wallpaper. Higher-priced paints often offer better quality and long-lasting durability compared to cheaper options. While budget is a consideration, remember that regard for quality can save you a lot more in the long run.

Primes and Sealers

Before applying paint, it's highly recommended to use a good quality primer or sealer. This can seal off any old adhesive residue and provide a smooth and clean surface for painting. An alkyd or oil-based primer is usually recommended due to their strong adhesion properties.

Environmental Considerations

Finally, consider environmentally-friendly paint options. Paints with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are better for the environment and your health. Many companies now offer eco-friendly options which also have excellent durability and finish.


Choosing the right paint for your wallpaper involves careful consideration of various factors. With the correct choice, you can not only protect your wallpaper but also enhance its aesthetics, providing a fresh and vibrant look to your room. Always remember, the right paint goes a long way in determining the overall look and feel of your space.

Necessary Tools and Equipment for Wallpaper Painting

The process of painting wallpaper doesn't just require paints and brushes. There are several other ancillary tools and equipment necessary for an efficient, high-quality job. We'll break down this list and discuss exactly what each item brings to your wallpaper painting project.

Paint and Primer

First and foremost, you'll need good quality paint. Look for paints specifically designed for use on wallpaper. These types of paints adhere better and produce smoother results. A primer is the preparatory coating you put onto the wallpaper before the paint. It ensures the paint adheres correctly and lasts longer.

Paint Brushes and Rollers

Next to paint, brushes and rollers are the most critical tools in your arsenal. A wide brush is perfect for covering larger surface areas, while a smaller one will be beneficial for detailed work near the edges. Rollers are ideal for covering large areas quickly.

Wallpaper Smoother

This tool is crucial for smoothing out the wallpaper before you begin painting. It eliminates air bubbles and creates an even, flat surface for painting.

Paint Tray

A paint tray is necessary to hold your paint. It’s especially handy when using a roller. The tray should be wide and shallow, with a ramp on one end for draining excess paint off the roller.

Painter’s Tape

Painter's tape is something you'll use to protect areas you don't want to paint, such as trim, window sills, and door frames. It ensures a clean, sharp edge to your painting.


Depending on the height of your walls, a ladder may be necessary. DIY-ers usually go for a step ladder, while professionals may opt for a full-length ladder or scaffolding.

Safety equipment

Gloves, overalls, goggles, and a dust mask are all essential safety items. These will protect you from any paint splatters and fumes while also keeping your clothes clean.

Equipping yourself with all of these tools and equipment will help guarantee that your wallpaper painting project progresses smoothly and produces beautiful, lasting results.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Painting Over Wallpaper

Painting over wallpaper may be something that you are eager to attempt, either to create a fresh new aesthetic or to cover up old, outdated, or damaged wallpaper. To help guide you through this process, follow this detailed guide.

Step 1: Assess the wallpaper condition

First, thoroughly examine the area for any damage, peelings, or bubbling in the wallpaper. Ensure to fix damages before you start painting, as these spots could prevent your paint from adhering correctly. If the wallpaper is in poor condition, it may be best to remove it before painting.

Step 2: Clean the Wallpaper

Next, ensure the wallpaper is clean and free from dust. Utilize a mild detergent to wash the surface and let it dry completely. Any residual dust or grime may prevent the paint from properly adhering to the wall, resulting in a poor paint job.

Step 3: Seal the Wallpaper

Sealing the wallpaper with an oil-based primer keeps the adhesive in the wallpaper from mixing with water-based products later. It's crucial to apply the primer evenly, let it dry completely, then lightly sand the surface to get rid of any brush mark.

Step 4: Prep for Painting

Before painting, ensure to prep the space: cover the floor and any furnishings with drop cloths or plastic sheeting, and tape off any baseboards, outlets, and other trim with painter's tape.

Step 5: Apply the First Layer of Paint

Use a roller for large, flat areas and a brush for detailed areas around trim and corners. Try to apply the paint as evenly as possible, making sure you catch any drips.

Step 6: Apply Additional Coats if Needed

A single layer of paint may not completely cover the wallpaper design. If necessary, apply additional paint layers, allowing each to dry fully before applying another.

Step 7: Apply a Top Coat

For high-traffic areas or for extra durability, you may want to protect your freshly painted wall with a clear top coat.

Step 8: Cleanup

Remove any painter's tape, clean up any drips or spots on the floor or trim. Replace any furniture or fixtures you moved during the process. Now it's time to enjoy your freshly painted walls!

Tips and Tricks for a Smooth, Seamless Finish

When painting wallpaper, the goal is to achieve a smooth, seamless finish that disguises the fact that wallpaper is beneath the paint. This may sound complicated, but with the correct techniques and proper preparation, anyone can achieve this flawless outcome. Here are some helpful tips and tricks:

Proper Preparation

The key to a smooth paint job is proper preparation. Some wallpapers are more challenging to paint over than others. Before beginning, ensure that your wallpaper is clean of dust or grime, and secure any loose corners or edges with wallpaper paste. Also, consider sanding your wallpaper lightly with a high grit sandpaper to create a good paint-adhering surface.

Primer is Essential

After sanding, apply a good quality primer to the whole wallpapered surface. The primer will help to conceal any patterns or colors on the wallpaper and also prepares the surface to hold the paint better. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly before applying paint.

Choose the Right Paint

Choosing the right paint can make a huge difference in creating a smooth, seamless finish. Opt for high-quality latex paint, as it has excellent adhesion and covers well. Avoid glossy paints because they can highlight imperfections in the wallpaper beneath.

Apply the Paint Correctly

Use a roller for large areas and a brush for corners and edges. Start painting from the top and work your way down to avoid noticeable drips. Apply two to three thin coats of paint rather than a single, thick one for the best results. Let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next.

Ensure Even Textures

If your wallpaper has a textured surface, you might want to replicate the same texture on your painted surface too for a seamless look. This can be achieved with special texturing tools or by adding texturing agents to your paint.

Avoid Shortcut Solutions

It might be tempting to use one-step primer-and-paint products, but these are usually not as effective as using separate primer and paint. In the interest of achieving a high-quality, long-lasting finish, avoid quick-fix solutions and invest the necessary time and effort.

Practice Patience

Achieving a smooth, seamless finish is not an instant job. It requires patience and careful attention to detail. Don’t rush the process; allow each layer of primer or paint to dry completely before applying the next. Remember, the end result will be worth the wait.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Wallpaper

When it comes to painting over wallpaper, it is essential to tread carefully to avoid some common pitfalls that can compromise the aesthetic appeal of your walls. In this section, we delve into some of the typical blunders that people often make during this process, along with helpful suggestions on how to avert them.

1. Failure to Prepare the Wall Surface Properly

Often, people rush into painting wallpaper without properly preparing the surface. This mistake leads to uneven painting, bubbles, and peeling of the paint over time. To avoid this, it's necessary to clean the wallpaper thoroughly to remove any dust, grease, or any other forms of dirt. This step should be followed by the application of a primer to smoothen the surface before painting.

2. Ignoring Wallpaper Seams

Another common mistake often seen in DIY projects is the failure to address wallpaper seams before painting. The seams of the wallpaper are likely to show up over the paint job, leading to an unsmooth look. Ensuring all seams are properly sealed and flush with the wall before painting is critical in achieving a sleek, professional finish.

3. Incorrect Choice of Paint

Not all paint types are appropriate for wallpaper. Using the wrong type can lead to paint that doesn't stick well, peels off prematurely, or looks blotchy. A high-quality, acrylic-based paint is typically the best choice for painting over wallpaper, as it provides excellent adhesion and durability.

4. Skipping the Primer

The primer serves as an intermediary layer between the wallpaper and the paint, enhancing the paint's adhesion to the wallpaper. Without the primer, there's a high chance of paint not adhering correctly, leading to aesthetically unpleasing peels and chips. So, never skip this vital step.

5. Poor Quality Tools and Materials

The quality of tools and materials you use for painting has a huge impact on the final output. Brushes and paint rollers of low quality can leave streaks, marks and, make the overall painting job look untidy. Invest in high-quality brushes, rollers, and other tools to ensure a smooth, professional finish.

6. Not Allowing Sufficient Drying Time

Rushing the process and not allowing each layer – from primer to each paint coat – to dry properly, can result in a botched paint job. The paint can bubble, peel, or streak if applied to a still damp previous layer. Remember patience and ample drying time between layers are essential for a gorgeous, lasting paint job.

7. Negligence in Protective Measures

While painting, protecting the surroundings - furniture, floors, etc., is often overlooked. To avoid unintended paint splashes or spills, always use coverings such as drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect around your workspace.

8. Inadequate Lighting

Painting in poorly lit areas can lead to missed spots or uneven application. Make sure your workspace is well-lit, ensuring every inch of the wallpaper gets uniformly covered with paint.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a beautiful, professional-looking finish when painting over wallpaper.

How to Maintain and Care for Your Painted Wallpaper

Maintaining and caring for your painted wallpaper properly can extend its lifespan and ensure its aesthetic value. Here are aspects of care and maintenance you should pay attention to:

Regular Cleaning

Your painted wallpaper requires regular cleaning to keep it looking fresh. Gently wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth. Make sure you don't scrub too hard, as this might damage the wallpaper. Avoid soaking the wallpaper, as the moisture could weaken it and cause it to peel.

Spot Cleaning

If you notice a stain or a mark on your painted wallpaper, immediately try to clean it. Apply a small amount of mild soap on a damp cloth and gently blot the stain. Do not rub the stain, as it may spread and become more prominent. Afterwards, wipe off the soapy residue with a clean, damp cloth.

Note on Cleaning Products

Always test cleaning products on a hidden area of the wallpaper before using them directly. Some cleaning products may discolor or damage the wallpaper, so testing them out first allows you to avoid potential mishaps.

Preventing Damage

Protect your painted wallpaper from damage by keeping sharp objects away from it. Also, avoid placing furniture too close to the wallpaper, as it may scratch and tear the material. If your wallpaper is in a high-traffic area, consider using a protective sealant to prevent scratches and tears.

Touch Ups

Despite your best efforts, your wallpaper might end up with scratches or chipped paint. When this happens, touch-ups are necessary to retain its look. Use the same paint color and apply it carefully on the affected area.

Professional Help

If the wallpaper is extensively damaged or if you're unsure about how to clean or repair it, it's best to seek professional help. Experts in wallpaper care have the skills and knowledge to properly handle any wallpaper issues you might have.