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  • Writer's pictureHeather Holcombe

Don't paint over old wallpaper!

If you are tempted to paint over that old wallpaper in your house, allow me to give you some advice. Do not paint over any wallpaper!

You might think it's easier to paint over old wallpaper rather than to take it down. However, it's rarely a good idea, especially if you think it's going to be a long-term solution.

The only time I'd say it's ok to paint over old wallpaper is when you know it's a short-term fix. For example, you just bought a home, and you're planning a whole-house remodel for the following year. However, you find the powder room wallpaper too hideous to live with until then. Painting over it could be a short term fix.

The only time it's perfectly fine to paint over wallpaper is when it's paintable wallpaper, manufactured specifically to be painted.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of painting over your wallpaper:

Pros of painting over wallpaper:

  • It's a fast and relatively easy way to (hopefully) disguise wallpaper.

  • It's cleaner than removing wallpaper - no messy paper scraps to clean up.

  • It might be cheaper than removing wallpaper.

  • However, it might not actually be cheaper in the long run.

Cons of painting over wallpaper:

  • Moisture from the paint can loosen or bubble wallpaper, causing it to peel away from the wall.

  • Paint can ruin the adhesive beneath the paper.

  • Wallpaper can hide sheetrock issues that should be addressed, including mold or mildew. Painted wallpaper makes it even harder to diagnose those issues.

  • It can be harder to remove wallpaper once it's painted. The harder it is to remove, the likelier it is the sheetrock will be damaged.

  • The longer it takes a professional to remove wallpaper, the more it's going to cost you.

  • Even with a primer, it can be a challenge to hide a wallpaper's pattern or color.

  • Paint can't hide the texture of the wallpaper or its seams.

Wallpaper removal isn't so difficult or time-consuming if it's done by reputable professionals. If you think you'd like to take down your old wallpaper, I suggest hiring professionals to remove it, instead of painting over it. In the long run, it might save you money to have it removed before you paint.


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