I painted over wallpaper * how to paint over wallpaper

05 May 2009

Are you shocked??

I know that it's a major makeover no-no, but it was a last resort. We had wallpaper in almost every room in the house. The entryway and main bathroom came off with hot water and fabric softener. The paper in the kitchen was a bit more stubborn, so we rented a steamer and it came off with some work. Our bathroom was a different story. There was not one peel, one corner coming loose, nothing. It was stuck on there and had not budged for 30 years. We tried everything: vinegar, fabric softener, the chemical you buy in stores, and finally the steamer, but it was causing major damage to the drywall. I talked to my neighbors about it, my new friends at Lowes and Home Depot, the guy at the paint store, and they all said to paint over it if I had tried everything. Like the guy at the paint store said, "if it hasn't moved in 30 years, it ain't goin' nowhere."
Sooooo, that's what we did:
We sealed it with Kilz premium primer, waited a week or so to see if we had any bubbling, or problems. Everything was good, so then I textured over that, primed again, and then painted. Pain in the rear!

I textured because it had a lovely gold pattern on it that was going to show through the paint, plus I wanted to hide all seams. I'll show you how I did it:

The first lesson in texturing is that there is no lesson. There are no rules, just whatever you choose, try to make it look uniform and that you meant for it to look that way. You can choose any pattern you want.
Get some lightweight joint compound and a putty knife. This big old box cost $10.
You can also get the fancy kind that goes on pink and then goes white when it's dry, but it's around $20. I used that in my kitchen and it made me want to eat it because it looked like pink frosting.

Anyway, just shmear it on the wall: not smear. Shmear. Pretend like you're frosting a bagel.

Then, I took a regular old plastic grocery sack and lifted it up and down all over to make these little rifts:

Then, I took the putty knife and just smoothed over the little ridges for a kind of knock-down texture, kind of stucco, kind of Melissa-doesn't-know-what's-she's-doing-so-let's-make something-up-look:
Then, we primed over it and painted over that. To see the finished bathroom, click here.

Hey, anything was better than this!
Works for me.

Have a wonderful Wednesday~


  1. Just what I needed!!! I have three rooms to take care of!

    I think my paper has been here since 1985. (Chuckwagons and flowers .. it's gotta go)


  2. Who knew? I saw the pictures of your finished bathroom (gorgeous) and never would have guessed you painted over wallpaper. Amazing!

  3. Way to go girl. Sometimes you just have to break the rules. I've tried removing 30 y.o. wallpaper--it doesn't work.

  4. We did the same thing! Our new house was covered (and I mean covered) with wallpaper and borders in every room. We got so tired of peeling it all off and started to run outta time before we were to move in. My contractor FIL spackled over the entire thing in our kitchen. Then he used a sander to smooth it all out. Then he painted over top. You'd never know the difference. In fact, it may be the best paint job in the whole house because the walls are much smoother in there.


  5. Texturing with joint compound is a good tip to know! I never would have thought about that.

  6. I used joint compound over my wallpaper in our bathroom and painted over the top of it 8 years ago... I have since painted over the paint {I get bored with color and change things up all the time}... it STILL looks amazing... It sure does beat removing all that wallpaper...

  7. Guilty. I committed the same makeover sin by painting over wallpaper. I convinced my best friend to do it in her kitchen and was her partener in crime. I'm pretty sure her husband HATED me. But it looked fabulous! And really...almost ANYTHING is better than butt ugly wallpaper, right?


  8. Hey, my theory is, whatever works! And if it's easy and cheap, even better!! You SO did the right thing by painting over it, and the texture idea - kudos on that one! I've thought about doing that myself to hide little imperfections here and there. And, I love how it looks!

  9. This looks great!
    Our house even had wallpaper on the baseboards!!! (Who does that?!) I heard that if you hold a wet cloth to the wallpaper for 10 minutes you can tell if it's paintable. If it bubbles and you can scrape it at all, you have to take it down. If there's no change, you can prime and paint.

  10. I think the paint guy was right...it's not going anywhere! Great idea! I highlighted your bathroom on my blog today. :)

  11. OK, your bathroom makeover is incredible - and I like how you kept the budget small and yet turned out with a project worthy of a Pottery Barn catalogue. Way to go! Also, good job paintint over wallpaper. I'm getting ready to paint over a tile surround of my fireplace!!!! Linda

  12. Wow I almost lost my dinner when I saw that wallpaper. Sometimes you can't help but wonder... "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???"

  13. Oh that is great! You did very well! I'm so impressed. :)

  14. That is amazing. I had heard that you could, but had never seen anyone that did. I can't imagine how long it would have taken to have scraped that old wallpaper off. Good for you!


  15. There may be something seriously wrong with me, because I actually kind of like that wallpaper! But you know, you're right. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to be happy in her own house. :) Rules? What Rules?

  16. I like your texture technique. I do the mud like you are frosting a cake. The extra step with the bag and trowel make it a better finish. I wish I could redo some of my texture.

  17. Your bathroom looks great! Honest and truely I have that job ahead of me this summer! I have taken off more wallpaper in my life than any woman should have to ( : O ) I swear I was ready to blow up the walls in the kitchen at our condo at Lake of the Ozarks. Now, I know I can leave the paper on in the two bedrooms here at home and get started.
    A couple of questions, is the putty already mixed or do you have to add water?

    How long did you let it dry before you used the putty knife?

    Charla @ For the Sake of Time

  18. Genius! But I want to see the after shot.

  19. You're such a home improvement guru, I tell ya. I probably would've steamed and steamed until I was down to the studs. :)

  20. I am gonna tackle my kitchen... Gonna do the same thing... You have inspired me... Thanks....(KITCHEN, HERE I COME.)


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