Can I paint this wall?


My wife and I just bought our first home. The wall was covered in a torn wall paper mosaic. This paper came off super easily. We are left with a mostly clean wall but it seems too simple. The white covering is peeled off in places exposing another layer that seems to be the actual drywall / base material of the wall. We want to paint. Is it ok to paint that top white layer or is that wallpaper backing? If so should we go all the way down to that lower level? I spent too long searching and now I don’t trust myself.

q paint this wall
  4 answers
  • Rebecca Taylor Rebecca Taylor on Aug 12, 2018

    Hello, If it is not longer chipping off you can paint it but be aware that the parts that are chipped off will show the outline of the shipped parts because it is at a different level. you would have to strip it all to get it completely level or you might be able to use drywall mud to level it out.

  • Linda Sikut Linda Sikut on Aug 12, 2018

    Hi Tom,

    Unless it's vinyl wallpaper, it looks like Formica panels. You can paint them but be sure not to skip any steps.

    Start by cleaning the walls with a very good degreaser or TSP. Let that dry then use a sandpaper block with around 120 grit to buff up the surface of the walls so that the paint will stick. Try to go in one direction, up and down is okay but not sideways too. Once you have the them sanded, clean them thoroughly with a tack cloth to remove all dust.

    Now you can start painting. Start with a primer. I'd give all of those brown spots an extra coat of primer before starting. Use a foam roller to help get smooth results for most of the wall, after painting corners and edges against the trim with a brush. Let the primer dry. Check the paint can for the amount of time.

    Now you can start your color paint. You may need more than one coat. Be sure to let it fully dry before starting the next coat. When you're happy with the paint results let it dry completely. (check time on the paint can) If you follow the steps, you should end up with beautifully painted walls. Wishing you the best.


  • Jan Clark Jan Clark on Aug 12, 2018

    What my very talented Hometalk friends forgot to mention is that you need to fill in the recessed area with a patching compound before you paint. If that base surface is wood or not, just use a regular wall patching compound. Fill it in with an edge, even a plastic trowel will work, let it dry and sand it smooth. Then prime and paint.

    You're off to a great start - first homebuyer! You have hometalk. Wish this was around 40 years ago when I bought my first house.

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Aug 13, 2018

    Hi- All good answers. Personally, I would just drywall over it and start fresh. Or consider textured wallpaper, or wood accent wall, (trendy shiplap/pallet mosaic)etc. ANY surface irregularities will show under a solid color paint job so you might be able to camouflage by using textured paint and/or sponge painting/glazing techniques with a second color. My neighbor would cover it in corrugated metal.

    Did you know they now make giant wall decals? You could have palm trees or a view of Paris...... Genevieve Gorder would cover it in moss or artificial flowers. You own that wall - go for it! Best to you both.

    • Tom Godfrey Tom Godfrey on Aug 13, 2018

      Thanks a ton! I lived in an apartment in Seoul for a long time that had a beach scene for one of the walls. Maybe we will recreate that!