Painting Over Wallpaper ???

lrb91849May 17, 2008

My son-in-law recently purchased a home and the downstairs Family Room is wall papered with a very dark wallpaper.

He would like to paint right over the wallpaper with a lighter more pastel color.

Many years ago I though a painter told me you could paint over wallpaper but it had something to do with an Oil Based Primer.

I can't remember if he said you Must use and Oil Base Primer or Don't use an Oil Based Primer ... I'm not sure which it was.

We would appreciate any Suggestions, Hints and Tips you can offer for Painting Over Wallpaper.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post,

Lou B

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Yeah, you can paint over wallpaper, but I think you earn some seriously bad decorating Karma by doing so. Painting the paper can make it really tough to remove later on. You might do some searching on these forums to see how hard people sometimes have to struggle to remove painted wallpaper. Why not just take the paper down now, clean up the walls, and then repaint them?

Although there may be some proprietay products out there for priming wallpaper, I'd certainly try a shellac-based primer (Kilz, etc.) instead of a water-based primer (just in case the water-based paint dissolved the wallpaper glue halfway through the project). You could use oils, but in many parts of the country it's getting harder to find oil based formulas, and then you ahve to live with the VOC/off-gassing problems.

Stripping the wallpaper (if it hasn't been painted) is usually not a bad job. You can use steam, one of the proprietary wallpaper remover liquids. You can rent a good steamer at HD or some hardware stores.



    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 10:56PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Pleas, strip the paper first.

Here is a link that might be useful: stripping

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 6:25AM
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I have seen rooms where people painted over the wallpaper. It did not look good. I would highly suggest removing the wallpaper and then thoroughly cleaning and painting the walls. Wallpaper is usually a permeable surface and primer and paint could force the glue to dissolve. This would create a mess you would not want to have to deal with on any project. You can use Zinsser DIF products and a Paper Tiger Scoring Tool to remove the paper. Earlex makes a good wallpaper Steamer to remove wallpaper, which can be rented at a local tool rental, Home Depot, or local hardware store.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 6:38AM
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I don't want to confuse the issue, but I have painted over wallpaper several times with very good results. First I made sure the paper was well adhered to the wall. Then I primed with oil based Kilz. Next, I painted with a good quality latex paint. Because the walls had never been textured (wall paper installed at orig construction) it was important that the paint finish was even. In the other case, I used dry wall mud to add random texture after the priming, painted and then used a glaze to create a faux-finish/broken color stucco effect. I believe this will actually help my wallpaper stripping karma because when or if I tire of the stucco finish, it will come off with the wall paper. Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 2:49PM
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I faced the same dilemma and in fact had a hell of a time getting the paper off and then patching walls. Some comes off easier than others. Still, I have no regrests. Remove the paper!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 3:01PM
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Hey kinal1962 I'm thinking of doing a finish similiar to what you described in my kitchen. If you happen to have pics of your stucco walls I'd love to see them.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 5:54PM
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If you can tell the wallpaper is painted over it is not done correctly. I think stripping is best but if the paper is really stuck down it is possible to paint over it.

I spent hours trying to strip wallpaper in one bathroom using a steamer. Finally I gave up, mudded the seams, and spray painted a light texture over the wallpaper. I painted that and you can not tell there is paper under it. The parts I stripped and the parts that still have paper look actually the same. It's been over 4 years with no problems.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 1:08PM
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A wise and mystic sage once told me "there is nothing good for your marriage with the word 'wallpaper' in it." He was right. Strip the paper, and hire someone to do it - your relationship will thank you. Paint over it now and take it down later and there will be much weeping and wailing and gouging of walls.

Wait - you said your SIL. You can do it for them, but neither the SIL or your daughter should do it - very bad relationship juju.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 2:29PM
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I just finished ripping off wallpaper, 3 layers, layer of paint and 3 layers under that. I can tell you stripping off the layers under the layer of paint was impossible in some spots. It couldn't be done. We are going to prime with that primer that can be used to seal the wall after wallpaper is removed and hope for the best. I've never used texture paint but I hope it will work. Don't paint over wallpaper!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 6:17PM
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Do NOT paint over wallpaper! EVER!!!

I have a 100 year old house with ROOMS of painted wallpaper. You can tell it is PAINTED WALLPAPER.

It is a nightmare to remove once it has been painted. I have spent DAYS scraping a 4 foot space of wall to remove all the bits and pieces of wallpaper until I had to stop due to neck, back and shoulder pain. I still have to do the rest of the (bleeping) room.

My walls are plaster -- not dry wall. No chemicals work to remove the painted wallpaper. The only thing that works is very hot water and scrubing with a teflon or mesh sponge.

If only I could get into a time machine to stop whoever committed this decorating atrocity to my house....but, hopefully, I can stop you.

I think the punishment should fit the crime and anyone who paints over wallpaper should be required to remove it and two of their neighbor's painted wallpaper as well.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 12:31PM
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I was thinking of painting over my wallpaper in the kitchen. I received advice on this site that made me change my mind. I took the wallpaper off, the first layer just peeled right off. The backing was left on the wall and I took that off easily with a mixture of water and fabric softener. About 2 to 1. Just spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes and everything comes off. Then, because my walls had no texture, I used 'mud' (the stuff you can buy in 5 gallon buckets) to texture my walls. I put on 3 coats and sanded between each coat. My walls now look like old Tuscan walls, or any old plaster that been plastered and replastered and replastered. Just prime it with tinted primer and then one coat of paint. Voila!! Looks good.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 7:45PM
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