How to Paint Over Wallpaper in 2022 (The Only Way)

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I know how you feel.

You’ve been staring at that old wallpaper for years. It may have been all the rage way back when, you know, when mullets and fanny packs were considered “stylish.”

Or, maybe you’ve just purchased a new home, and some rooms have wallpaper. You ask yourself, “what were they thinking?.”

One thing is for sure these days; money is tight. Right now, hiring a professional is not in the picture.

You want that old wallpaper removed before you paint, but you’re a bit skittish about how and if you can do it.

By following How to Remove Wallpaper in 2022 (the Only Way), you will learn everything about your wallpaper and how (and if) you can remove it.

Paint over Wallpaper or Strip It?

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Let’s get the obvious out of the way.

Pros will tell you the best practice is stripping wallpaper, not painting over it.

That’s a fact. If done incorrectly, painting over wallpaper can lead to many problems.

You need to apply paint on a sound surface. Drywall and plaster are better suited for paint than wallpaper.

Stripping wallpaper can be a challenge. Some wallpaper can be removed easily, while others are more difficult. It’s worth the effort to try to strip the paper in a small area to see how hard it is to remove. (see How to Strip Wallpaper below).

Types of Wallpaper

Several types of wallpaper are available on the market and various styles and textures.

Types of Wallpaper include;

  • Non-woven
  • Vinyl
  • Fabric
  • Grasscloth
  • Organic Textures
  • Paper
  • Liner paper
  • Prepasted
  • Peel and stick

You don’t have to determine what type of wallpaper you have applied to your walls, but you need to investigate a bit.

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Determine your wallpaper situation

There are several factors in determining how to paint over wallpaper.

  • Were the walls primed or sized before installation?

Walls should be primed or sized before installing wallpaper. Priming creates a surface for the paper to adhere to rather than the drywall or plaster surface.

Sizing is a thin layer of paste that helps wallpaper slide more easily during installation.

Remember that it will be difficult to strip the wallpaper if the walls are not primed or sized beforehand.

  • Is the wallpaper textured and rough to the touch?

Painting over heavy textured wallpaper and grasscloth is not recommended. The pattern will be visible through the paint and must be skim coated to hide it.

The same goes for Liner paper installed on plaster walls. The seams are “raised” and visible where two strips come together.

  • Is the wallpaper peeling, blistered, or worn?

Peeling and bubbled wallpaper is a sign that the underlying adhesive is failing. You can remove the wallpaper if the glue is weakening.

Methods to Strip Wallpaper

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You can strip wallpaper in a few ways:

  • Shaving with a razor scraper.

Shaving wallpaper can be dangerous for a beginner and lead to damaging walls.

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  • Stripping wallpaper with a “steamer.”

The steaming method is dangerous and time-consuming.

  • Application of wallpaper stripper solution.

Using a stripper is the preferred method to remove wallpaper. It provides the best results with less damage to walls.

How to Strip Wallpaper (The Right Way)

Perform a stripping test on a small wallpapered wall.

A stripping test is a small investment (less than $30) before learning how to paint over wallpaper.

Tools and Materials needed.

  • Dif Wallpaper Stripper
  • 1 Gallon Pump Sprayer
  • 5-inch Spackle Knife
  • Drop Cloth
  • Sponge
  • 5-gallon Bucket (½ filled with warm soapy water)
  • Wallpaper Tiger (perforates the paper)
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Before you begin

  1. Move furniture away from the wall.
  2. Remove items hanging on the wall (including nails and hooks).
  3. Fold the drop cloth in half (lengthwise) and place it on the floor under the wall.

Pro Tip: Wallpaper has two components, the paper and the “backing” behind it. The object of the stripping method is to perforate the paper’s surface and apply a stripper that gets in behind the paper to lift it off the backing.

Step 1.

Pour the Dif into the pump sprayer and add hot water to the fill line (see the instruction for the ratio). Insert the pump, close the pressure relief dial on the side, and “pump” the sprayer to add pressure.

Step 2.

Use the paper tiger to score the surface of the wallpaper. Be sure to run the paper tiger over every inch of the wall. Don’t push too hard, or you will risk damaging the drywall or plaster.

(171/365) April 13, 2010: Cleaning the anti-ants sprayer by Jason Alley

Step 3.

Spray the wall using the pump sprayer but avoid wetting the ceiling, which could lead to discoloring the finish. Wet a sponge with the solution and wipe the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling.

Step 4.

Repeat Step 3. The wallpaper must be wet when stripping it. Don’t let the solution dry out. The paper should start to ‘blister” when the stripper is successful.

Step 5.

Start stripping the wallpaper using the 5-inch spackle knife. Be careful not to gouge the wall with the knife. Keep the edge of the spackle knife clean.

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You may get lucky and peel off large strips of paper. Re-wet the area and remove the glue and paper backing.

Step 6.

Once the area is stripped, wash the wall with mild detergent and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Observe the Results

Now that you have completed (or attempted) to strip one wall, take note of the following;

  • How long did the process take?
  • Was the wall successfully stripped?
  • Did the paper come off in large pieces?
  • How badly was the wall damaged during the process?
  • Now that you know the process, determine if stripping the wallpaper is achievable.

If the stripping took too long and caused much damage, it’s worth painting over.

How to Paint Over Wallpaper

The Only Way

The only way to paint over wallpaper is to prepare the wall and prime the wallpaper properly with Gardz Primer/Sealer.

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Gardz is your one-stop solution for priming wallpaper, sealing drywall tears, and strengthening walls and plaster.

Gardz is a water-based product that dries quickly and cleans up with soap and water.

It seals wallpaper and prevents glue residue from bleeding through top coats of paint.

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Tools and Materials you will need

  • 9-inch roller tray, frame, and ⅜-inch roller cover
  • Pole for rolling
  • Drop cloth
  • 2–½ inch paint brush (nylon/polyester blend)
  • Paint pot
  • Step stool or ladder
  • Wallpaper razor knife
  • Spackle or Joint Compound
  • Gardz
  • 150 and 220 grit sandpaper
  • Spray can primer

The Steps on How to Paint Over Wallpaper in 2022

Pro Tip: Remember that every wallpaper imperfection is a potential “patch.” Limiting cuts and scrapes of the paper will be helpful.

  1. Make a note of wallpaper tears and blisters. Don’t attempt to cut them (yet).
  2. Glue down areas where the wallpaper is lifting and allow it to dry before priming.
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3. Place drop cloths on the floor below the wall.

4. Prime the wallpaper with Gardz. Be careful; Gardz is very thin and drips easily. Allow drying.

5. Revisit the areas that you noted for repairs. The Gardz should have sealed the tears and bubbles. If not, cut the bubbles and tears with a fine razor knife and then spot prime with Gardz.

6. Prep the walls for painting. See this: How to Prep Walls for Painting in 2022 (+ Pro Tips for DIYers)

7. Spot prime grease spots and ink with the can of spray primer.

8. All patches need spot priming with Gardz.

9. Paint the walls with a good latex top coat.

You Can paint over the Wallpaper

You just saved a “boat load” of money by following How to Paint Over Wallpaper in 2022 (Thoe Only Way).

Following the steps in this guide gives you the understanding and knowledge to handle this DIY project independently.

You’ve learned how to inspect your walls, determine your situation, and prepare and paint over your wallpaper. Just like a Pro!

Well done!

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On to the next project! Home Improvements DIY

FAQ:

What kind of paint can I use to paint over wallpaper?

You can use any good quality latex paint over wallpaper after it is properly prepared and primed with Gardz Primer/Sealer.

Can you paint directly onto wallpaper?

No. You should never paint directly onto wallpaper. Doing so would result in the wallpaper blistering under the paint and cause many repairs.

What is the best primer for painting over wallpaper?

Gardz Problem Solving Primer is the best primer for painting over wallpaper. It’s a water-based primer that seals wallpaper, primes drywall tears, and strengthens wall surfaces.

How do you hide wallpaper seams before painting?

After priming with Gardz, wallpaper seams can be patched with joint compound and sanded to match the surface level of the paint. Remember to prime repairs before and after with Gardz.

Can you paint over patterned wallpaper?

Yes and No. You can Paint over a patterned wallpaper by following the guide above. However, if the pattern is “raised,” the walls would need to be skimmed with a film of joint compound to hide the texture, creating a large amount of extra work.

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