Can You Paint Over Wallpaper? A Comprehensive Guide to Refreshing Your Home’s Interior

Bob Thomas


Wallpaper is a popular choice for adding personality and style to a home's interior.

However, as time goes by, tastes may change, or wallpaper may become faded, outdated, or damaged.

If you're considering refreshing your home's appearance, you may wonder, "Can you paint over wallpaper?" The answer is yes, but with some caveats. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about painting over wallpaper, including the benefits and drawbacks, proper preparation techniques, and how to achieve a professional-looking finish.

Let's get started!

Benefits and Drawbacks of Painting Over Wallpaper

Before embarking on a painting project, it's crucial to understand the benefits and drawbacks of painting over wallpaper.


Cost-effective: Painting over wallpaper is often more affordable than removing it and repainting the walls.

Time-saving: Removing wallpaper can be a time-consuming and messy task. Painting over it is often a quicker alternative.


Uneven surfaces: Wallpaper seams or textured patterns may show through the paint, leading to an uneven finish.

Adhesion issues: If the wallpaper is peeling or bubbling, painting over it may not provide a lasting solution, as the paint may also peel or bubble over time.

Limited options: Some types of wallpaper may not be suitable for painting, such as vinyl or foil wallpapers.

Factors to Consider Before Painting Over Wallpaper

Before deciding to paint over your wallpaper, consider the following factors:

Condition of the wallpaper: If the wallpaper is damaged, peeling, or bubbling, it's best to remove it and prepare the wall for painting instead. Painting over damaged wallpaper may result in a poor-quality finish.

Type of wallpaper: Some wallpapers, such as vinyl or foil, may not accept paint well. In such cases, it may be necessary to remove the wallpaper or apply a special primer before painting.

Future plans: If you plan to sell your home, potential buyers may prefer smooth, freshly painted walls rather than walls with painted-over wallpaper. Consider the impact on your home's resale value when making your decision.

Preparing Your Wallpaper for Painting

Proper preparation is key to a successful paint job.

Follow these steps to ensure your wallpaper is ready for a new coat of paint:

Repair any damage: If there are any small tears, peeling edges, or loose seams in the wallpaper, repair them with wallpaper adhesive or seam repair glue. Allow the repairs to dry completely before proceeding.

Clean the wallpaper: Dust, grease, and grime can prevent paint from adhering properly. Use a mild detergent and water solution to clean the wallpaper, then rinse with clean water and allow it to dry.

Apply a primer: Priming the wallpaper is essential for a smooth, even finish and to ensure proper paint adhesion. Choose a high-quality, oil-based primer specifically designed for wallpaper, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for application.

Choosing the Right Paint for Painting Over Wallpaper

Selecting the appropriate paint is vital for a long-lasting, professional-looking result.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing paint for your wallpaper:

Finish: For the best coverage and to hide and to minimize the appearance of wallpaper seams, opt for a matte or flat finish. These finishes are less reflective, helping to conceal imperfections.

Quality: Choose a high-quality, durable paint that is designed for interior walls. Better-quality paints provide better coverage and are more resistant to chipping, peeling, or fading.

Color: Lighter colors may require multiple coats to fully cover the wallpaper pattern, while darker colors may cover more effectively with fewer coats. However, consider the room's size and lighting when choosing a color, as darker shades can make a room feel smaller and less bright.

Painting Techniques for Wallpaper

Now that your wallpaper is prepared and you have chosen the right paint, it's time to begin painting.

Follow these steps for the best results:

Use the right tools: High-quality brushes, rollers, or paint sprayers are essential for a smooth, even paint job. Choose a roller with a medium nap for textured wallpaper or a short nap for smooth wallpaper.

Cut in the edges: Start by painting the edges of the wall, using a brush to create a border around the ceiling, baseboards, and any trim. This will make it easier to blend in the roller strokes later.

Apply the paint: Using a roller or paint sprayer, apply the paint in a "W" pattern, then fill in the gaps with horizontal or vertical strokes. Be sure to overlap the edges slightly to avoid visible roller or brush marks.

Apply multiple coats: Depending on the paint's color and quality, you may need to apply multiple coats for full coverage. Allow each coat to dry according to the paint manufacturer's recommendations before applying the next one.

Inspect the final result: Once the paint is dry, examine the walls for any missed spots, uneven areas, or visible seams. Touch up as necessary to ensure a consistent finish.

Caring for Your Painted Wallpaper

To keep your newly painted wallpaper looking fresh and vibrant, regular maintenance is essential.

Here are some tips to care for your painted walls:

Clean gently: Use a soft cloth or sponge and a mild detergent solution to clean any dirt or smudges from the painted surface. Avoid scrubbing too hard, as this can damage the paint.

Inspect for damage: Periodically check your walls for any signs of peeling paint, bubbling wallpaper, or other damage. Address issues promptly to prevent further deterioration.

Touch up as needed: Over time, your paint may begin to chip or fade. Touch up any areas that need it to maintain a consistent appearance and protect the wallpaper from damage.

Tips for Hiring a Professional Painting Contractor

If you decide to hire a professional painting contractor for your wallpaper painting project, follow these tips to ensure you choose the right person for the job:

Get multiple quotes: Obtain quotes from at least three different contractors to get a better idea of the average cost of the project and identify any outliers.

Check references and reviews: Ask each contractor for references from past clients and read online reviews to gauge their reputation and the quality of their work.

Verify licensing and insurance: Ensure the contractor is licensed (if required in your area) and carries the necessary insurance to protect you in case of any accidents or damage during the project.

Ask about their experience with painting over wallpaper: Not all painters have experience with this specific task. Make sure the contractor you choose has successfully completed similar projects and is familiar with the best techniques and materials for painting over wallpaper.

Get a detailed contract: Before work begins, have a written contract outlining the scope of work, materials to be used, cost, payment schedule, and estimated completion date. This will help protect both you and the contractor in case of any disagreements or issues during the project.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. Can I paint over any type of wallpaper?

   A: While it is possible to paint over many types of wallpaper, some materials, such as vinyl or foil, may require special preparation or primers before painting. It's important to assess the type of wallpaper and its compatibility with paint before proceeding.

Q. How long does it take for the primer and paint to dry?

  A: Drying times can vary depending on the specific primer and paint used, as well as environmental factors such as humidity and temperature. Generally, a primer may take 1-2 hours to dry, while paint can take anywhere from 2-4 hours for a single coat to dry. It's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for drying times to ensure the best results.

Q: Can I use latex paint over an oil-based primer?

  A: Yes, you can use latex paint over an oil-based primer. The oil-based primer provides an excellent base for the latex paint to adhere to, ensuring a durable and long-lasting finish.

Q: Do I need to sand the wallpaper before painting?

  A: In most cases, sanding is not necessary when painting over wallpaper. However, if the wallpaper has a highly textured or glossy surface, lightly sanding it can help improve paint adhesion. Be sure to clean the surface thoroughly after sanding to remove any dust or debris.

Q: Can I use a paint sprayer instead of a roller or brush?

  A: Yes, you can use a paint sprayer for painting over wallpaper, provided you have experience using one and the proper equipment. A paint sprayer can help achieve a smooth, even finish, but it may require more preparation, such as masking off areas you don't want to be painted and properly ventilating the room.


Painting over wallpaper can be an effective, cost-saving method for refreshing your home's interior.

By carefully considering the benefits and drawbacks, preparing the wallpaper properly, choosing the right paint, and following the correct painting techniques, you can achieve a professional-looking finish.

Whether you decide to tackle the project yourself or hire a professional, this comprehensive guide should provide you with the knowledge and confidence to make the best decision for your home.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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