Painting over Wallpaper

In terms of durable paintcoats, painting over wallpaper is easy. You can paint over it with latex wallpaint, also when the wallpaper is made of vinyl. If it was painted glossy before, it's better to use a primer - shellac if you want to be sure. But more important: the structure of your wallpaper, and eventual seams, will remain visible. The wallpaper needs to be firmly stuck - if it's not, it's better to take it off.

Painting over wallpaper

One advantage of painting over wallpaper is, that you can easily remove everything once the package on the walls (paint layers, old wallpaper) got too thick. I've seen people apply structure wallpaper to new walls before painting it, for this reason. The structure also creates a more lively impression. It can be done with paint rollers, even if there is structture.

Using a primer paint

It's a good idea to use a primer paint when you're painting over wallpaper. A primer hides better than a finishing latex, and only the primer might do the job. It can be orderded in any color, you only need to know the name and number of the color you want (it can be of any brand), and the primer's sheen is matte. Color-matched primer comes in different qualities:

  • This vinyl-acrylic primer, goes over more cheap and absorbent kinds of wallpaper. It's one of the cheapest primers around that can be color-matched.
  • This one (all-purpose latex primer) has a better quality, use it when your wallpaper is glossy and plastic-like. The primer sheen is matte, but a better quality binder. It's also color-matched.

After the primer, you can either leave the wall as-is, do a coat of latex (if the primer didn't fully hide), or seal the primer with a transparent coat for protection (matte paint easily picks up dirt). If you have stains to cover, check this page on primer paints.

Painting over structure wallpaper

If you do a hiding latex coat, the structure will remain visible, but that doesn't have to be bad. Structure gives the paint color some livelyness. It depends on your interior design. If you want a clean, modern or zen look, structure won't always looks good. But for a more folkish, or shabby-chic style, structure can be OK.

The look of your paint will also be influence by the color of your wallpaper, unless you block the color with a primer. Click here for more on influences of underlying colors

Painting over wallpaper

Getting rid of wallpaper structure

There's only one way to get rid of structure wallpaper: to take all the wallpaper off. It's a time-consuming and messy job, but it's much helped by using the right tools and products (click here to find liquid wallpaper remover, and putty knives). Take one of the bigger knives, then you'll have less chance of scraping stripes in the wall. The knife can later be used for spackling, if that's necessary.

Faux finish painting over wallpaper

When doing blending techniques (mixing different colors of latex paint on the wall, wet-in-wet), you might have to adjust your brushing a little, to make sure everything gets covered well. But it can look good. An even, regular structure can function as the linen structure of a canvas or rough paper. In watercolor painting, people use rough structured paper because it 'hides' little mistakes. Painting over structured wallpaper works just the same. When you take a little distance, you don't see the structure anymore, but it sort of 'fusses' your perception a little, and that can work out really nice.

Important in faux finishing techniques: the paint shouldn't dry too fast. Once the paint starts drying out, you can't blend it anymore. If you use a good primer (check this one), you'll create a less absorbing background on which the next layer will stay wet longer.

Painting over floral or other structure wallpaper

Another styling question is, when there the structure is patterned in flowers, decorated stripes and such. Painting over wallpaper like that will influence the results even more. But you might play with, and integrate the structure into your design.
Before you start, try to imagine what things will look like. On the other hand, if you're not too fussy, painting over a different pattern can be a way to 'hide' the structure. It depends on the structure - and on your style of designing.

Glazing techniques over structured wallpaper

When you glaze over structured wallpaper, the structure will become more visible - every little dent will pick up extra paint. When you drag your brush over it, paint will be left behind the dents, unless you brush around them. I don't recommend it, unless you don't mind the structure coming out strongly.

Anyhow, for the color washing technique, you need to do a hiding base-coat of latex first. But for this technique, I recommend taking off the wallpaper. If you want your colors to become really ethereal, the structure will be a jammer.

Stencil painting on wallpaper

Stencil painting will be a lot more difficult on structured wallpaper, because you can't press every edge of the stencil tight to the wall. If you still want to do this: take thick paint, and brush carefully - only dabbing, not dragging - holding your brush with a perfectly square angle to the wall.

And: consider if your decorations match to the structure. With a simple, undefined structure, that will be easier than with flowers and decorated stripes.

Some reasons not to be painting over wallpaper

  • you want to create your own brushing structure
  • you may find it shabby, this look of something 'painted over'
  • structure doesn't fit in your interior design
  • you prefer an 'honest' look - wallpaper should be wallpaper, and paint should be paint

Related Pages:

Oil Painting Techniques

Acrylic Painting

Watercolor painting

Color Schemes

Interior Painting techniques

Interior Painting Ideas


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