Painting Over Wallpaper: A Step-by-Step Guide

How To Paint Over Wallpaper: A Step-by-Step Guide In 2023

Painting over wallpaper can be an effective way to update the look of a room without the labor-intensive process of removing the existing wallpaper.

While removing wallpaper is time-consuming and may damage the underlying wall, painting over it requires careful preparation and execution to achieve a smooth and attractive finish.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of painting over wallpaper to help you achieve a successful transformation.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Primer: A good quality primer is essential to create a suitable surface for the paint to adhere to.
  • Paint: Choose your desired color and type of paint (latex or oil-based) for your project.
  • Painter’s Tape: Use painter’s tape to protect areas you don’t want to be painted, such as trim and outlets.
  • Paint Trays and Brushes/Rollers: These tools are necessary for applying the paint evenly.
  • Sandpaper: You may need sandpaper to smooth out any imperfections on the wallpaper.
  • TSP Solution (Trisodium Phosphate): This can help clean the wallpaper and improve paint adhesion.
  • Drop Cloths: Protect your flooring and furniture from paint splatters.
  • Spackle and Putty Knife: Use these to repair any minor imperfections on the wallpaper surface.
  • Rags or Sponges: For cleaning and wiping down surfaces.
  • Optional: Texture Compound: If your wallpaper has a textured pattern, you may want to apply a thin layer of texture compound to create a more even surface.
  • Step-by-Step Guide
painting over wallpaper: Materials You'll Need
source: apartmenttherapy

Step 1: Evaluate the Wallpaper

Assess the condition of the wallpaper. If it’s peeling, severely damaged, or has a strong texture, painting over it might not yield desirable results. It’s generally best to paint over smooth, well-adhered wallpaper.

Step 2: Clean the Wallpaper

Wipe down the wallpaper with a damp cloth or sponge to remove dirt, dust, and any grease. For more thorough cleaning, use a TSP solution to ensure proper paint adhesion.


Step 3: Repair Imperfections

Fill in any holes, dents, or gouges with spackle. Once the spackle dries, sand it down until the surface is smooth and even. This step is crucial for achieving a polished end result.

Step 4: Apply Primer

Apply a high-quality primer that is suitable for covering wallpaper. Primer helps create a uniform surface for the paint and prevents the wallpaper pattern from bleeding through. Allow the primer to dry completely.

Step 5: Test Paint Adhesion

Paint a small, inconspicuous area and let it dry. Check for adhesion and ensure the paint doesn’t cause the wallpaper to lift or wrinkle. If the test area looks good, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 6: Paint the Wallpaper

Using a paintbrush or roller, apply a coat of paint to the primed wallpaper. Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before applying a second coat if needed. Make sure the paint covers the wallpaper evenly, hiding the pattern beneath.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Once the paint is completely dry, carefully remove any painter’s tape you applied. Touch up any areas where the paint may have bled under the tape. Reattach outlet covers and trim that you removed before painting.

Step 8: Evaluate the Results

Inspect the painted wallpaper for any areas that might need additional touch-ups or corrections. Stand back and admire your refreshed space!

Assess the Wallpaper’s Condition

Before you begin the painting process, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate the condition of the existing wallpaper. Look for signs of peeling, bubbling, or damage. If the wallpaper is coming loose or has significant damage, painting over it may not yield satisfactory results.

Assess the Wallpaper's Condition
source: localpainterflorida

Additionally, consider the texture of the wallpaper – smoother textures tend to work better for this technique. If the wallpaper is in good condition and has a relatively flat surface, it’s a good candidate for painting over.


Prepare the Wallpaper for Painting

Clean the Wallpaper Surface: Before you start painting, thoroughly clean the wallpaper surface to ensure proper adhesion of the primer and paint.

Use a mild solution of water and a few drops of dish soap or a TSP solution to remove dirt, grease, and any residue. A clean surface will help the primer and paint adhere more effectively.


Repair Imperfections: Inspect the wallpaper for any holes, cracks, or minor imperfections. Use a spackle or putty knife to fill in these areas with a spackle or lightweight joint compound. Allow the filler to dry, then sand the repaired spots until they are smooth and level with the rest of the wallpaper.

Choose the Right Primer and Apply It

Select a Wallpaper Primer: Choosing the right primer is essential for ensuring proper paint adhesion and preventing the wallpaper pattern from showing through the paint.

Opt for a high-quality primer specifically designed for use over wallpaper. Look for a primer that is labeled as a “bonding” or “stain-blocking” primer.

 Apply the Primer: Use a paintbrush or roller to apply a thin, even coat of primer over the wallpaper. Make sure the primer covers the entire surface and any repaired areas.

Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A well-primed surface provides a stable base for the paint and enhances its durability.

Apply Paint to the Wallpaper

Choose the Right Paint: Select a paint that suits your desired color and finish. Latex paints are commonly used for this purpose due to their ease of use and quick drying time. However, oil-based paints can also be used if you prefer their characteristics.


Apply the Paint: Once the primer is dry, it’s time to apply the paint. Use a paintbrush or roller to apply a thin, even coat of paint to the wallpaper.

Start with edges and corners using a brush and then use a roller for larger areas. Avoid applying too much pressure, which could cause the wallpaper to lift or wrinkle. Allow the first coat to dry completely before deciding whether a second coat is necessary.

Consider Textured Wallpaper: If the existing wallpaper has a textured pattern, consider using a texture compound to create a smoother surface before painting.

Apply the compound thinly and evenly over the wallpaper using a putty knife. Once dry, sand it lightly to achieve a uniform texture before priming and painting.


Painting over wallpaper is a viable option when done correctly, allowing you to update your space without the hassle of wallpaper removal.

Proper cleaning, priming, and paint application are essential for achieving a seamless and professional finish. By following this step-by-step guide and using the right materials, you can successfully transform your room and give it a fresh new look.