How To Paint Over Wallpaper


Yes, it is possible to paint over wallpaper and I have done it myself in three rooms in my home. First, let me say if you can remove the wallpaper without too much work, then do, but for that very stubborn paper you can paint over it and I will share the steps to get that smooth look and no one will know you painted over it.

This is the before shot of the guest bathroom that recently got a makeover. Yep, it was time for the plaid wallpaper to go away.

I knew I wanted part of the walls covered in beadboard so that made the job a bit easier with less wall to prep for paint. First step is to check for any loose paper and glue that down. You can use regular glue or wallpaper paste. We have used both in the past. This paper didn't have any loose pieces. even after nineteen years.

Get some joint compound and spread it on every seam and let that dry. You are wanting to make the walls smooth and seamless. Painting over the seams without this step is a dead giveaway that you painted over wallpaper.

After the joint compound is dry sand it until it blends evenly with the wall.

In a bright area under a light fixture be sure the finish is perfectly smooth because every imperfection will show up. You may have to apply the joint compound again in some places. We had a few pitted spots that had to be done again. Just repeat the two steps above of applying the joint compound and sanding.

Net step is to paint with OIL BASED PRIMER. Yes, oil based not water. The oil based will add a protective coating over the paper. Water will be absorbed by the paper and can become loose and wrinkly. This will show badly through your painted finish. So use oil based.
We used Oil Based Kilz.

This is what the can looks like.

Here is the paper covered with primer. Then I painted two coats of Latex paint in Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.

We had a couple of challenging spots over the bathroom door. After using the joint compound and primer we still had a couple of stubborn seams showing up. I told hubby about it and he just worked on it again with the joint compound until we had a perfectly smooth wall.

Here are the steps again: 

1. Glue down any loose paper.
2. Apply joint compound to every seam.
3. After the joint compound is dry sand to a smooth finish and wipe away all dust.
4. Prime with an OIL BASE primer. Do Not use a latex primer.
5. Paint with latex paint and then check for any imperfections and work on those a bit more and paint again.

The guest bath reveal is coming soon!

Post edit: See the reveal HERE.

Met Monday
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  1. I painted over the wallpaper in our bedroom in our previous home. I didn't know about oil based primer but luckily it held up nonetheless, but what a great tip! Our newly purchased RV has some wallpaper I'm not thrilled with and I am pinning this in case I decide to change it out. Sometimes paper that's been on a surface for many years is very hard to remove, and I think that's the case with the RV,

  2. Awesome tips! I won't even tell you how long it took me to take paper down in one room of my house and the walls still don't look smooth. This would have been sooooo much easier and a lot less of a headache!

  3. I don't have any wallpaper in the house but this is a great tip! I may have to try this at my moms!

  4. Oh I'm soooo glad you shared this! My mother wants to remove the wallpaper in her kitchen, and I was dreading the job! Lol! I'll be anxious to show her this:) Anxious to see this bathroom:)

  5. Super tips and great tutorial. Can't wait to see the bathroom.

  6. Great tutorial! Yes this saves a lot of time for sure. Stripping paper is not easy this is a perfect solution!

  7. Yep- Great tutorial. I have done this several times over the years. I used a lightweight spackle rather than the joint compound but it is the same thing. The joint compound is probably actually easier to work with on large areas. Those old wallpapers actually became part of the wallboard I think. I can remember stripping wallpaper in our first couple of homes and the paper came off in one inch pieces, even with a steamer. I would never do that again. xo Diana

  8. Great tutorial....When my son sold his first home the wallpaper was not applied properly and was literally taking off the first layer of we did the same thing...primed, compounded and painted...a great solution....The bathroom is looking great!!!...can't wait to see it all done!!!....Happy Monday!!!

  9. Nice to know the technique! When we moved here 20 years ago, we stripped every room in our home. The only room without wall paper was the kitchen. Wish I would have had your tutorial then. :)

  10. Just the post I've been waiting for. I knew to use the joint compound on the seams but not to use oil based primer. Thanks so much. sb

  11. Great tutorial, Kim. I never thought to cover the seams!

  12. What a great post! I want to paint a border of wallpaper and you make it sound easy! Hummm, maybe not! Like your tutorial, really a good one.

  13. Oh KIM! This is like an answer to prayer! I have a couple of places in my house with wall paper and I cannot stand to remove it! I'm going to do this FOR SURE!!!! Thank you! Pinning and featuring it on fb!

  14. Kim, what a great tutorial! I had wallpaper in the bathroom in my previous home and removing it was a nightmare. Parts of the drywall came off with the wallpaper. I ended up needing to hire someone to fix all the walls of the entire bathroom when I was done removing the wallpaper.

  15. That's great advice about how to paint over wallpaper. I don't think we used the oil based primer on ours. Oops! Can't wait to see the final reveal

  16. That's pretty neat! Not sure I would have ever thought of that. Great job!

  17. Great tutorial! Our best friends moved into a 100 year old house back when we were young. My hubby helped them remove like 6 layers of paintt and wallpaper. It was a nightmare!!! Wish we had known this then! Can't wait to see your bathroom reveal!

  18. We are currently doing this same process in our master bedroom renovation!

  19. This is awesome- I wish this tutorial had been around a few years ago when we moved into our first home- my husband absolutely hated his life dealing with that wallpaper! Thanks for sharing!

    I stopped by from The Scoop.

  20. you are brave! Thanks for sharing the tips! xx, b @

  21. This is just what I needed to know for my entryway. The paper is in excellent condition, just dated. The person who put it up used paste so I know it will be a bear to remove. Not a big area so this will work beautifully. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  22. I stripped wallpaper in this house and it was a nasty and messy job. But that was pre-kids. I don't think I would do it again.

  23. Where is the AFTER shot?

    1. In the farmhouse style guest bath reveal post. Here is the link: