Menu Close

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper

Painting walls can be a fantastic way to refresh a space and give it a new look. But what if your walls are covered in wallpaper? Can you simply paint over it

Can I Paint Over Wallpaper?

Many homeowners wonder whether it’s possible to paint over wallpaper, and the answer is generally yes. However, it’s important to note that success largely depends on the condition of the wallpaper, the type of wallpaper, and the desired outcome.


Factors to Consider Before Painting Over Wallpaper

Before you embark on the project of painting over wallpaper, it’s crucial to evaluate a few key factors.

  1. Wallpaper Condition:

The condition of the wallpaper plays a significant role in determining whether it’s suitable for painting over. If the wallpaper is peeling, damaged, or uneven, it’s advisable to remove it before painting. Painting over damaged wallpaper may result in an unsatisfactory finish.

  1. Type of Wallpaper:

Different types of wallpaper have varying levels of suitability for painting over. Some wallpapers have a smooth and non-porous surface, while others have textures or patterns that may affect the paint’s adherence. Understanding the type of wallpaper you have is crucial in determining the success of your painting project.

  1. Adhesive Strength:

The adhesive used to attach the wallpaper to the wall is another important consideration. If the adhesive is weak or the wallpaper is not securely adhered to the wall, painting over it may cause the wallpaper to bubble or peel further. Ensure that the wallpaper is firmly attached before proceeding with painting.

  1. Your Desired Outcome:

Consider the final look you want to achieve. Painting over wallpaper may not completely hide the texture or pattern of the wallpaper, especially if it’s heavily embossed or has a bold design. If you’re looking for a smooth and seamless finish, removing the wallpaper might be the better option.

  1. Paint Compatibility:

Certain types of wallpaper, such as vinyl or fabric-based, are less compatible with paint. These wallpapers are designed to resist moisture, and painting over them may result in poor adhesion or paint peeling. It’s essential to determine the paint’s compatibility with your specific wallpaper type.

Preparing for Painting over Wallpaper

Proper preparation is crucial for a successful paint job over wallpaper. Follow these steps to ensure your walls are ready for a fresh coat of paint:

  1. Clean the Wallpaper:

Before you start painting, clean the wallpaper thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust, or grease. Use a mild detergent or a wallpaper-specific cleaner and a sponge or soft cloth. Ensure the wallpaper is completely dry before proceeding.

  1. Repair Damaged Areas:

Inspect the wallpaper for any tears, loose edges, or holes. Use a wallpaper repair adhesive to fix these issues. Smooth out any bumps or bubbles by carefully lifting the wallpaper and applying the adhesive underneath. Allow the adhesive to dry completely before continuing.

  1. Sand the Wallpaper:

To create a smoother surface for painting, lightly sand the wallpaper using fine-grit sandpaper. Be gentle to avoid damaging the wallpaper. Sanding helps remove any texture or pattern, allowing for better paint adhesion.

  1. Prime the Wallpaper:

Applying a primer is essential when painting over wallpaper. It helps to seal the surface, improve paint adhesion, and prevent the wallpaper pattern or colour from bleeding through the paint. Choose a primer suitable for your wallpaper type and apply it evenly across the walls.

  1. Choose the Right Paint:

Selecting the appropriate paint is crucial for a successful outcome. Opt for a high-quality paint that is compatible with your wallpaper type. Consider using an oil-based or shellac-based primer as the first coat, followed by a latex or water-based paint. These types of paint are more likely to adhere well to the wallpaper.

  1. Test the Paint:

Before painting the entire room, perform a paint adhesion test on a small inconspicuous area of the wallpaper. Apply a sample of paint and allow it to dry. Afterward, check if the paint adheres properly and doesn’t cause the wallpaper to bubble, peel, or discolour. If the test is successful, you can proceed with confidence.


Painting over wallpaper can be a viable option to refresh your walls and give them a new look. However, it’s crucial to assess the wallpaper’s condition, type, and your desired outcome before proceeding. Proper preparation, including cleaning, repairing, sanding, and priming the wallpaper, is essential for a successful paint job. Remember to choose the right paint and perform a paint adhesion test before painting the entire room. By following these guidelines and addressing potential challenges, you can confidently embark on your painting project and transform your space.


If you need further assistance, consider reaching out to the experts at Martyn Clegg Painters and Decorators in Burnley, who can ensure the job is done correctly the first time thanks to their knowledge and expertise.