paint over wallpaper?

hgolightlyOctober 19, 2005

we just moved into a 1910 Greek Revival. We have begun stripping wallpaper from a few rooms and will be painting soon. Questions:

1) the rooms that still have a paper backing on the walls from the old wallpaper, does this need to be removed, or can we paint (prime?) over it? If it needs to be removed, how?

2) the 1980's wallpaper came off like contact paper, but left a yellowed glue on the walls. Same question... can we prime over this or must we remove the (smooth) glue? How?

Many thanks,


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do a search on wallpaper hell on this forum. Your answer is in there. I would remove the wallpaper. In the long run it will serve you better.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 2:48PM
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Strip it all off and get the glue off. You'll never be happy with the results if you don't. I hate that 80s paper. The glue they used was a nightmare!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 2:24AM
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The glue left on the wall is probably sizing. It's pretty easy to remove: spray or wipe on hot, sudsy water and when it's soft use a plastic putty knife to srip it off. Keep some kind of recepticle handy to clean the stuff off your knife. Go over the wall again to make sure it's clean. Old houses frequently were papered before painting (ours certainly was). I guess it helped disguise cracks in the plaster, etc. I sanded down seams that were obvious, but sure didn't try to strip the ceilings and walls throughout our house...I'd still be at it!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 6:57PM
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I found a great article that helped me out when I was painting over my wallpaper. Hope this helps:

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 3:22PM
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Some time it works and sometimes it doesn't. Your biggest nightmare is the glue on the paper softening and bubbles popping out all over where the paper comes loose.

I strip paper. I clean glue and sizing. I repair cracks, and nail holes and I wallpaper hell is a good term for half donkeyed jobs I have dealt with. Nothing like getting it down to a bare canvas, even if it means a lot of extra work. Sooner or later, you'll end up doing it anyway. I'll betcha.

As for those 80s vinyl papers and glues. I know you don't expect to see it if the proper glues are used, but I have seen too much blackmolds under them to ever be comfortable painting over the paper. argh.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 7:19PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

No question about it,removing the paper and paste is going to be the BEST way to proceed.This removal solution ( IMO) is the best out there.

Here is a link that might be useful: S&S

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 5:33AM
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Ms. HGoLightly: (love the name btw...)...

I just spent the last YEAR removing wallpaper that had been painted over through the various eras in my kitchen. Tedious and frustrating are two words that I would use to describe this task.

Unless you want the next owners of your home or whoever takes on the task of removing the painted wallpaper, to curse your mere existance, then do not paint over wallpaper - EVER.

If there was a decorating crime that should be punishable by death, this is the one.

If you don't believe me, I still have two more rooms that have painted wallpaper to be removed. You can come for a visit and help me do this task and you will understand very quickly. Plus, painted wallpaper looks like crap on walls. It's lumpy and over the years, a section or area will peel and it's impossible to even out.

A good steamer will remove your current wallpaper and also mixing hot, hot water with Downey (or similar)in a spray bottle easily removes the glue and paper. You may also use a soft, vinyl bristle brush for the tough areas.

You can use the chemical stripper also, but frankly, I have found that hot, hot water and Downey works just as well (and even better in some cases) and without offensive chemicals. Plus, it's cheaper too.

Resist the temptation to cut corners and paint over the will cause you many many more hours of labor later.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 12:22PM
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I have stripped wherever possible in my 1920s colonial. Essentially, anywhere I had wallpaper over plaster, I took it down to the plaster; the hard surface is very accepting of scraping. I did have two walls in my kitchen that were part of a 1970s renovation where drywall was used. Where I couldn't get the wallpaper off without ripping through to the gypsum layer, I lightly sanded the seams then coated with Gardz, a sealant designed to lock in wallpaper past, dust, etc. The Gardz worked wonderfully-- it dries to a hard coat which then takes paint or white primer very easily without any of the underneath surface "telegraphing" through.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 12:59PM
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