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Yes Virginia, You CAN Paint Over Wallpaper

May 31, 2012

I often hear the saying that there are two ways to skin the cat. Well, there are two ways to take care of wallpaper. One is to strip it and the other is to paint it. If it comes off easily – strip it. If not, paint it. However, with that said I must add a disclaimer too. If there is more than one layer – you must strip it and fix the damaged wall afterwards. You can’t paint over more than one layer and have it look nice. No way, no how. Now let’s move on.

If the texture is smooth and in good condition you can paint over the wallpaper by priming it first and using a good quality paint. However, the seams need to be tight and the paper needs to be secure on the wall.

Start your process by cleaning the wall thoroughly with a wet sponge to remove any residual wall paper paste (remember it is often invisible so rinse your sponge a lot).

It is a good idea to test a spot of the wallpaper with the stain blocker primer for 24 hours before proceeding with the entire project (you never know – it could blister and peel even though at first it looked great). Once you have passed the 24 hour test you can paint the rest of the room with the stain blocker and after it is dry you can move on with your main finish coat.

Common sense tells you to choose a color that hides the stripes or pattern underneath.

Now, if you need to remove the wallpaper here are several steps on how to do that.

  1. Cover the floor with a drop cloth to keep the water off the carpet or wood flooring.
  2. Turn OFF the power at the circuit breaker and remove the switch and outlet covers.
  3. Perforate the wallpaper with a tool sold at the hardware store just for that purpose (so you don’t damage the wall) so that water will go behind it when you squirt the wall.
  4. Apply wallpaper remover generously with a spray bottle and wait 10-20 minutes for it to soak in.
  5. Remove the wallpaper – usually in long strips (like peeling a sunburn – ewwwww).
  6. Once you remove the wallpaper you have to wash the wall several times to get all the glue off before you can paint.

Now – begin painting. You know how to do that already because you read my column before on how to paint properly. Right?

Here’s to women doing really amazing things,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, The ToolBox TomGirl

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