A Pros Tips About Painting Over Wallpaper

Yes, you can paint over wallpaper, although we don’t recommend painting it unless it cannot be removed. Once the wallpaper is painted, it’s nearly impossible to extract. 

There is no need to use special paint to paint over wallpaper. While priming wallpaper is a best practice before painting, it’s only required for added moisture guard and when bleed-through is likely. Priming the walls will also prevent moisture from loosening the wallpaper, which causes bubbling.

Before you paint over wallpaper, it is imperative to check the condition of the walls and the type of the wallpaper. Evaluate your options and understand the risks of painting over wallpaper while discussing this with a professional painter

Wallpaper Painting & Priming: Recommendations from Pros

We are often asked, “Can I paint over wallpaper?” While this question is usually asked to reduce wallpaper removal costs or lengthy project times, the answer depends on whether your wallpaper will accept a layer of paint. 


Here are the signs to look for to understand when you should and should not paint over wallpaper. 

Signs When Wallpaper Should Not Be Painted Over

You can paint over wallpaper, but the first step is to check for signs that the wallpaper is in good condition and won’t leave you with peeling or bubbling paint. These signs include: 

  • Bubbles in the wallpaper 
  • The wallpaper is visibly peeling, especially in seams and corners 
  • Drywall has texture or has been frayed
  • Visible seams or joints that will be difficult to conceal 
  • Moisture stains, indicating that there could be water damage 
  • Be careful if you know your walls have many layers of wallpaper; wallpaper over wallpaper is a less desirable situation to paint over. 

Wallpaper Surfaces Not to Paint Over

In addition to the condition of the wallpaper, you must also check the surface and the texture to ensure it is ready for paint. Don’t paint over wallpaper glue, textured wallpaper, or wallpaper with recessed or raised stripes. 

Traditional wallpaper is better to paint over than Grasscloth, Burlap, fabric, and Flocked wallpaper. Painting over textured wallpaper may prevent the smooth and professional look you desire in your home. Spoonflower does a great job of explaining different types of wallpaper.

Priming Wallpaper Before Painting 

Priming wallpaper before painting keeps the wallpaper dry during the painting process. It also helps lock out odor and prevent the drywall or wallpaper from bleeding back through. 

The priming process is especially critical when there could be potential moisture issues. 

When prepping wallpaper for moisture before painting, use an oil-based primer or premium stain-blocking water-based primer. These specific primers ensure better longevity and a lower chance of wallpaper peeling over time. 

The Best Paint for Wallpaper

 One of the most critical decisions when learning to paint over wallpaper is to use the best paint finishes. You will always want to use quick-drying paints, such as the Sherwin Williams Duration Interior. 

Remember that low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints dry the fastest. 

Eggshell or Satin Paint Finishes?

We recommend using an eggshell or satin finish paint when painting over wallpaper. The eggshell and satin finishes have extra durability without offering too much sheen. In addition, eggshell and satin will be easier to clean, making for quick cleanup in high-use areas like kitchens and bathrooms

Antimicrobial Paints

One of the more significant concerns with painting over wallpaper is moisture-related issues. Using antimicrobial paint will help stop mold and mildew growth on the paint’s surface, giving you peace of mind about the longevity of the wallpaper sitting behind it. In high-humidity climates, antimicrobial paints are even more critical. 

Never Use Flat Paint

Flat paint should not be used to paint over wallpaper. In addition to flat paint showing imperfections and irregularities, it is less durable. Flat finishes don’t resist moisture quite as well, leaving you subject to mold, mildew, and wallpaper peeling. Flat paint doesn’t offer the protective barrier that we recommend. 

Tips for Painting Wallpaper

If you have decided to take on the task of painting over wallpaper, here are a few of our best tips. Although we recommend removing wallpaper before painting, these tips will help ensure your project is successful. 

Have Proper Ventilation

Always ensure adequate air ventilation, and keep the AC on and vents open when painting. You will also want to buy or use a high-volume fan to improve air circulation in smaller rooms. The proper ventilation and air movement give the wallpaper less time to collect moisture. 

Keep Temperatures Low

Keep the temperatures in your room between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the ideal humidity level will be around 50%; if you find that you are running much higher than this, you may need to use a dehumidifier as you complete the painting. 

It’s Worth a Shot 

If you have ever removed wallpaper, you know it can be tedious. With older wallpaper, the paper tends to peel off relatively easily. However, the glue is tough to remove without damaging the wall. 


If you take on this DIY project, follow our steps, and use what has worked for us in the past, you may have an entirely new look in your house after just a few coats of paint. 

Hire a Professional

If painting over wallpaper is too big of a project for you, or you are afraid that your wallpaper may be too far gone to paint over and you live in Raleigh or the Triangle area, we are here to help.

We will assess the wallpaper to determine whether painting over it is an option or whether it needs to be removed. 


Painting over wallpaper is possible, but it opens the door for some issues that could come up in the future. If you plan to paint over wallpaper, check the type, look for moisture issues, and pick a paint finish with the most professional-looking result. A shellac or stronger primer may be needed for smoke-damaged walls.

If painting over wallpaper saves you time and money, that is excellent. However, you don’t want this smaller project to turn into a much bigger one unnecessarily. 

Contact us if you need someone to help access what is needed for your wallpaper removal project.

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