Is Painting Over Wallpaper a Good Idea? Pros, Cons, and Tips

When it comes to home renovation, one of the biggest debates is whether to remove the existing wallpaper before painting or just paint over it. Some homeowners argue that painting over wallpaper saves a lot of time, energy, and money, while others believe that it’s an unprofessional and risky practice that can lead to disastrous results. So, is painting over wallpaper a good idea? Let’s dive into the topic and explore the pros and cons.

Painting over wallpaper could seem like an easy and straightforward process, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. While it might save you the hassle of peeling off the old wallpaper and preparing the walls for a fresh coat of paint, it could also cause some serious issues that can affect the aesthetics and durability of your walls. From bubbling and peeling to discoloration and rough finishes, there are a lot of potential problems that can arise from painting over wallpaper. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s always a bad idea. Depending on the type and condition of your wallpaper, painting over it could be a practical and cost-effective solution.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of painting over wallpaper, and provide you with some tips and tricks to ensure that you get the best possible results if you decide to go for it. We’ll cover different wallpaper types, painting techniques, preparation steps, and common mistakes to avoid. By the end of the article, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether painting over your wallpaper is a good idea for your home renovation project. So, let’s get started!

Benefits of Painting Over Wallpaper

Painting over wallpaper has become a popular alternative to removing it, given that it saves homeowners from the hassle of taking down layers of old wallpaper and the need to re-plaster the walls. Here are some of the benefits of painting over wallpaper:

  • Cost-effective: Painting over wallpaper is a cheaper option compared to removing it and re-plastering the walls. You won’t have to spend money on the removal process, or the cost of covering up a wall that is damaged after removal.
  • Time-efficient: Removing wallpaper can take a considerable amount of time, especially if the wallpaper has been installed with an adhesive that is difficult to remove. Painting over wallpaper is a faster process, taking a few hours rather than a few days.
  • Creates a Textured Look: If you want to keep the textured look of your wallpaper while updating the aesthetic, painting over wallpaper is a good option. The texture from the wallpaper gives the room a unique and comfortable feel.

Preparing wallpaper for painting

Painting over wallpaper can save you time and money, but it is crucial to properly prepare the surface to ensure the paint will adhere correctly. Follow these steps to prepare your wallpaper for painting:

  • Clean the wallpaper: Before you start painting, clean the wallpaper with a mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner and a sponge. This removes any dirt, dust, or grime that could affect the paint’s adhesion. Rinse the wallpaper with clean water and let it dry completely.
  • Repair any damages: Inspect the wallpaper for any damages, such as tears, holes, or peeling edges. Repair these issues with joint compound or spackling, and sand the surface until it is smooth. If there are any gaps between the wallpaper and the wall, fill them with caulk.
  • Prime the wallpaper: After cleaning and repairing the wallpaper, it’s crucial to apply a coat of primer. This helps the paint adhere to the wallpaper and evens out any discoloration or patterns on the wallpaper. Use a high-quality primer specifically designed for wallpaper. Apply the primer with a roller or brush, and let it dry completely before painting.

Tools you’ll need

Before you begin, make sure you have the following tools:

  • Sponge or rag
  • Mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner
  • Joint compound or spackling
  • Sandpaper (120-grit or finer)
  • Caulk
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Roller or brush

Things to keep in mind

When preparing wallpaper for painting, remember:

  • Don’t attempt to paint over wallpaper that is peeling or bubbling, as this can cause the paint to crack and peel.
  • Be sure to apply the primer evenly, as any noticeable brushstrokes or roller marks will be visible through the painted surface.
  • After priming the wallpaper, it may be necessary to sand the primed surface lightly before painting.


Preparing wallpaper for painting takes time and effort, but it is a necessary step to ensure a smooth and long-lasting paint job. Make sure to clean the wallpaper, repair any damages, apply primer, and use the right tools for the job. By following these steps, you can successfully paint over wallpaper and give your space a fresh new look.

Pros Cons
Can save time and money compared to removing the wallpaper Paint may not adhere well or can peel if preparation steps aren’t followed
Offers more design options, as you can paint in any color or design Can add thickness to the walls and make them more difficult to hang objects on
Can cover up any imperfections or damages to the wallpaper or wall behind it May not be a good option for outdated or heavily damaged wallpaper

Keep these pros and cons in mind when deciding whether to paint over wallpaper or remove it before painting.

Painting Techniques for Wallpaper

If you’re considering painting over wallpaper, it’s important to choose the right painting techniques to ensure the best possible outcome. Here are some tips for painting over wallpaper:

  • Priming: It’s important to prime the wallpaper before painting. This will help the paint adhere better to the surface and provide a better finish. Use a high-quality primer that is designed for use on wallpaper.
  • Sanding: If the wallpaper has a texture or a glossy finish, it’s a good idea to sand it lightly before painting. This will help to rough up the surface and create a better bonding surface for the paint.
  • Painting: When painting over wallpaper, it’s important to use a high-quality paint that is designed for use on wallpaper. It’s also a good idea to use a paint with a low sheen to help hide any imperfections in the wallpaper.

Preparation for Painting over Wallpaper

Before you start painting over wallpaper, it’s important to prepare the surface properly. Here are some steps to follow:

First, clean the wallpaper thoroughly to remove any dust, dirt, or grime. This will ensure that the primer and paint adhere properly to the surface.

Next, repair any holes, cracks, or tears in the wallpaper using a spackling compound. Smooth the compound with a putty knife and allow it to dry completely before sanding it smooth.

Finally, tape off any areas that you don’t want to paint, such as molding, trim, or windows. Cover the floors and furniture with drop cloths to protect them from paint drips and splatters.

Painting versus Removing Wallpaper

While painting over wallpaper may be a quicker and less expensive option than removing it, there are some drawbacks to consider. One of the main concerns is that the wallpaper may start to peel or bubble over time, which can lead to an unsightly and uneven finish.

Additionally, painting over wallpaper may not be a good option if the wallpaper is textured or has a strong pattern, as it can still show through the paint. In these cases, it may be better to remove the wallpaper and start with a fresh surface.

Apart from these, the decision to paint or remove wallpaper depends on the specific situation and the condition of the wallpaper. It’s always best to consult with a professional if you’re unsure which option is right for you.

Pros Cons
Easier and quicker than removing wallpaper May not be a good option for textured or patterned wallpaper
Less expensive than removing wallpaper May peel or bubble over time, leading to an uneven finish

Ultimately, whether or not to paint over wallpaper depends on your specific situation and preferences. By following the right painting techniques and preparing the surface properly, you can achieve a beautiful and long-lasting finish.

Choosing the right paint for painting over wallpaper

Painting over wallpaper can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, you can achieve a beautiful finish that lasts for years. One crucial aspect to consider when painting over wallpaper is choosing the right paint. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind:

  • Primer: Applying a primer before painting will enhance adhesion and prevent the wallpaper from peeling or bubbling. You can use a water-based primer that is specifically designed for wallpaper or a high-quality oil-based primer for best results.
  • Type of paint: The type of paint you choose will depend on the type of wallpaper you have. For example, if your wallpaper has a smooth, non-porous surface, you can use a latex paint. Conversely, if your wallpaper has a glossy finish, you’ll need to use an oil-based paint to ensure the paint adheres correctly.
  • Finish: The finish of your paint will determine the final look of your walls. A high gloss finish will reflect light and create a shiny, reflective surface, while a matte finish will absorb light and give the walls a soft, velvety appearance. Choose a finish that complements the style and lighting of your space.

When choosing the right paint for painting over wallpaper, it’s also important to consider the color and texture of your walls. Bold colors and thick textures may require more coats of paint to achieve even coverage, while light colors and smooth textures may only need one or two coats.

Ultimately, the key to a successful paint job over wallpaper is proper preparation and selecting the right paint for the job. With these tips in mind, you can achieve a beautiful, long-lasting finish that enhances the look of your home.

Cons of Painting Over Wallpaper

While it may seem like a quick and easy fix to paint over wallpaper, there are several potential downsides to consider before taking on this task.

  • Increase in Thickness: Painting over wallpaper can add more thickness to the walls, which can lead to issues like peeling or cracking down the road. This can also make the wallpaper texture more noticeable under the paint.
  • Difficult to Remove: If you decide to remove the wallpaper in the future, you will need to remove both the wallpaper and the layer of paint, which can be a time-consuming and messy process.
  • Visible Imperfections: Any cracks, seams, or texture on the wallpaper will likely show through the paint, making it difficult to achieve a smooth, professional finish.
  • Potential Damage: Depending on the type and condition of the wallpaper, the paint itself could cause damage such as bubbling, lifting, or discoloration.
  • Risk of Peeling: Over time, the layers of paint and wallpaper may start to peel or bubble due to the moisture or heat in the room.

Overall, painting over wallpaper may seem like a quick and cost-effective solution, but it can often lead to more problems down the line. It’s important to consider the condition of your walls, the type of wallpaper, and the level of preparation and skill required to achieve a high-quality, long-lasting finish.

Removing wallpaper before painting – pros and cons

If you’re thinking about repainting a room, the first question you may ask yourself is whether or not to remove the wallpaper. There are pros and cons to both options. Let’s take a deeper look at the pros and cons of removing wallpaper before painting.

  • Pros:
    • Removing the wallpaper will give you a clean slate to work with when painting and allow you to start fresh. The old wallpaper may have imperfections, stains or tears that will show through the paint.
    • Paint chips and blisters may occur when painting on top of wallpaper, as it may not adhere to the surface as well as it would with a clean wall.
    • Removing wallpaper may increase the value of your home, as it shows that you care about the condition of your property and invest in it.
  • Cons:
    • Removing wallpaper can be time-consuming, messy and may cause damage to the walls underneath. It may also require special tools and products to remove the glue and adhesive.
    • If the wallpaper has been on the wall for a long period of time, there may be significant damage that can occur when removing it.
    • Removing wallpaper before painting can also be expensive, as you may need to hire a professional to do the job to avoid further damage to the walls.

Ultimately, the decision to remove wallpaper before painting will depend on the condition of the wallpaper and the walls underneath, as well as your budget and time constraints. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision that will ultimately result in a beautiful and long-lasting paint job.

Factors to Consider before Painting over Wallpaper

If you’re thinking about painting over wallpaper, you should first consider the pros and cons of doing so. Here are some factors to take into account:

  • Condition of the wallpaper: Is the wallpaper in good shape or is it peeling, cracking, or bubbling? If it’s in poor condition, painting over it will only magnify the flaws. If it’s in great shape, however, painting over it may be a viable option.
  • Type of wallpaper: Is the wallpaper textured or smooth? Is it made of vinyl or paper? These factors can impact how well paint adheres to the wallpaper. For example, vinyl wallpaper may repel paint, while textured wallpaper may be difficult to paint evenly.
  • Age of the wallpaper: The older the wallpaper, the higher the risk that it will peel or tear when painted over. If your wallpaper is decades old, it may be a better idea to remove it before painting.
  • Color of the wallpaper: If your wallpaper is a dark color and you want to paint it a lighter color, it may take several coats of paint to cover it completely. This can be time-consuming and require more paint than you initially expected.
  • Adhesive used to install the wallpaper: Some adhesives are more difficult to remove than others. If you’re considering painting over wallpaper, it’s essential to know what type of adhesive was used. If it’s a particularly strong adhesive, you may need to remove the wallpaper before painting.
  • Design of the wallpaper: If your wallpaper has a bold design, painting over it may be challenging. The texture and pattern of the wallpaper can show through the paint, creating an uneven and unattractive finish.
  • End goal: What is your end goal for this project? Are you trying to update the look of a room quickly and inexpensively, or are you looking for a long-term solution? Painting over wallpaper is a temporary fix that may not last as long as removing the wallpaper and painting the walls underneath.


Before you decide to paint over wallpaper, carefully evaluate the condition, type, age, color, adhesive, design, and end goal of your wallpaper. While painting over wallpaper can be a quick and easy way to update a room, it’s essential to assess the risks and ensure it’s the right choice for your project.

FAQs about painting over wallpaper

1. Can I paint over wallpaper?

Yes, you can paint over wallpaper. However, it is recommended to remove the wallpaper before painting to achieve a smooth and even look.

2. What are the benefits of painting over wallpaper?

Painting over wallpaper can save time and money compared to removing and replacing the wallpaper. It also adds a layer of protection to the wallpaper and can give it a fresh new look.

3. Can I paint over textured wallpaper?

Yes, you can paint over textured wallpaper. However, it may be more difficult to get an even finish and the texture may still show through even after painting.

4. Do I need to prime the wallpaper before painting?

Yes, it is recommended to prime the wallpaper before painting to ensure that the paint sticks properly and doesn’t peel or crack.

5. What kind of paint should I use to paint over wallpaper?

You can use any type of paint to paint over wallpaper, but it is recommended to use a paint with a low sheen or matte finish to help hide any imperfections in the wallpaper.

6. Can I remove the painted wallpaper later?

Yes, you can remove the painted wallpaper later but it may be more difficult to remove than unpainted wallpaper.

Closing thoughts

Thanks for reading our article about painting over wallpaper. While it is possible to paint over wallpaper, it may not always be the best option. We hope these FAQs have helped you make an informed decision on whether or not to paint over your wallpaper. Remember, for best results, it may be best to remove the wallpaper before painting. Be sure to visit us again for more helpful home improvement tips and tricks!