How to Paint Over Wallpaper

13 Materials
2 Days

Get on the list for all the DIY updates like this project and more! I'm helping my sister update her kitchen and dining room - it was stuck in the 1980s. One of the biggest issues was the decades old wallpaper full of ducks. It had to go but I didn't want to try and remove it and risk having to repair the sheetrock. So I found out it's possible to paint right over that old wallpaper and it worked like a charm!

Here's what we started with:

You can see all those lovely ducks below. Not to mention the border at the top. I know this was in style at one time, but it just wasn't working for my sister.

Here's what I learned and how to paint over wallpaper:

  • You need a good quality primer. This wouldn't have been possible without it. I needed to make sure those ducks were hidden completely.
  • Using a quality brush and rollers, paint two coats of primer on the walls. Use the brush to cut in around doorways/windows and trim and then the roller for the big areas.
  • I used oil based primer so if you use this, make sure to use in a ventilated area. This stuff smells!
  • Then I painted two coats of paint on the walls, letting the first coat dry completely first. I did this over the course of several days.
  • Here's the first coat of primer below:

I didn't worry too much about the border. It's very hard to tell now that it's done. You can see it and the seams if you inspect the walls carefully, but it's not a deal breaker and it's certainly easier than removing the paper first.

Wait a few days before hanging anything on the walls or pushing furniture up against it so you don't mess up your paint.

This is a project that turned out better than I expected. You can see the full details over on the blog - here!

And here's what we ended up with!

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Melissa - Create and Find
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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 11 questions
  • Debbi Debbi on Mar 12, 2022

    bought new 22 years ago a manufactured home... all the the sheet rock is vinyl covered.. I am now tired of seeing grapes in my kitchen.... can this kind of situation be painted following these directions???

  • Joh15653723 Joh15653723 on Mar 12, 2022

    I love the tutorial and I love the Hawaiian quilt in the corner

  • Cindy Rubin Cindy Rubin on Mar 19, 2022

    Does this work on decades old vinyl wall paper?

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2 of 54 comments
  • Cso51108026 Cso51108026 on Mar 12, 2022

    You can even just use warm water in a water bottle.. We're contractors, we've done this a bazillion times. But if you have many rooms of wallpaper, purchase or rent a wallpaper steamer. Home Depot sells a decent Wagner for $60; trust me, your time is worth it!

  • Ellis Ellis on Mar 13, 2022

    I have dealt with wallpaper, and with previously painted-over wallpaper. It's not that difficult to remove paper (tedious and time-consuming, yes), but it's awful to deal with painted-over paper. It looked okay when we moved in--obviously done by a seller to de-paper the look of the house--but it eventually started to lift at seams, and blister and peel above the radiators and in corners. Removing it was such a nightmare! Don't do it.