Maybe you are tired of your old wallpaper and want some major interior change. What about newly painted walls? You even don´t need any further preparation. Painting over wallpapered walls is very popular in the UK. Taking off wallpaper can cause an ugly damage to your walls, especially if it’s been stuck on the walls for years. But if it’s in good condition and has no signs of visible damage, you don’t necessarily need to remove the wallpapers before painting your walls. Also, by leaving the wallpaper in place, your walls will stay in their current condition, and you’ll be able to start painting without delay. Let´s see step by step technique of painting over wallpapered walls.

Painting over wallpapered walls in steps

Preparation before painting over wallpapered walls

It’s vital to prepare your walls carefully before painting. Follow these simple steps to ensure the best results. Check, how well the wallpaper is affixed to the walls. Make sure, that the room is well ventilated and put on any protective clothing or glasses.

Replacing the damaged sections

Start by replacing any damaged sections and adding adhesive to loose pieces to minimise the chance the paper will fall. Replace or repair missing sections of the paper. Apply a diluted TSP with a sponge or an extra paintbrush to clean the walls. After TSP has dried, use an appropriate amount of water and remove the chemical from the wall by a damp rag. To avoid damaging the wall, don´t use too much water. Also, don´t use too little water. Otherwise, paint colour may not adhere because of chemical residues.


Application of caulk

Add a thin line of clear caulk around the perimeter of the walls, at the joint seam where the paper meets the floor and ceiling. This will help seal the edges and keep the paper from peeling after you’ve painted. It also allows you to achieve a straight brush line along the edges.


Smoothing the surface

Cover heavily textured paper with a thin coat of joint compound (Spackle). This material will help smooth out to a surface so that the texture won’t show through the paint. You may need several layers of joint compound as the compound often shrinks when dried.


Sanding down the seams

Gently sand down the seams of the wallpaper, so they’re not too noticeable. Use fine sandpaper (120-grit) to ensure the smooth surface before work. Primer and paint attach better to well-sanded areas. In a case of a small air bubbles appearance, you can be sure that you haven´t sanded the paper enough.

Application of primer

Apply a coat of oil-based primer to the entire surface of the walls before painting. Oil-based paint is better to use because the moisture in a latex paint can loosen the wallpaper and cause bubbling.This helps seal the adhesive within the paper and away from the moisture in the paint. When dry, give the wallpaper the light sand by using fine sandpaper. Pay special attention to the areas, where a joint compound was applied. If you notice any damage, holes or tears, apply spackle once again and coat the area with primer. And now continue to paint over wallpapered walls.

Painting over wallpapered walls

The wallpaper is now ready for painting. Because the moisture in latex paint can sometimes loosen wallpaper glue, causing bubbles or peeling, you should use oil-based paint. Apply two coats for best results. Wait one day before applying the second coat and sand the first coat for better effect. If you are painting over the textured paper, don´t use a glossy paint. In this case, imperfections are more noticeable. When the second coat is dry, remove the tape.


Here are some considerations about painting over wallpapered walls in this short video:


We wish you a good luck while painting. Maybe you consider painting over wallpapered walls too difficult and you are afraid of bubbles and sanding. If you want to miss all these procedures and be sure of a quality work, we recommend you to ask professional painters from Making World Beautiful to do it instead of you. Try us!

Also, read how to hang wallpaper rims, or how to choose your perfect wallpaper.