Do I Really Need Wallpaper Removal, or Should I Paint Over It?

Wallpaper has many advantages. It covers surface flaws, adds unique patterns, and textures, and provides a wall finish that is hard to duplicate with paint. Properly installed wallpaper can last up to 10 years with little maintenance.

While many homeowners admire wallpaper’s durability, some find it a problem. Patterns and designs used decades ago won’t work with today’s more modern decor. Homeowners who want to remove it face a conundrum: “Do I really need wallpaper removal, or should I paint over it?”

Homeowners who want to update the look of their interiors prefer to hide wallpaper by painting over it. The method is relatively quick and easy, not to mention cheap. Painting over wallpaper can freshen up the look of your space in a fraction of the time that a complete wallpaper removal would take.

Besides, stripping down wallpaper is a tricky process. We’ve all heard horror stories about removing wallpaper, ranging from several layers of wallpaper to peel to damaging the drywall. 


Painting over wallpaper

But is painting over your old wallpaper the better option? As long as the wallpaper is still perfectly in place and you prep the walls carefully before painting. Those things are the only ways to ensure the best results possible. 

Begin by securing the paper. Remove and repair the damaged sections and apply adhesive to loose or peeling pieces to ensure they won’t fall off. Apply a thin line of clear caulk around the wall’s perimeter, at the joint seam where the paper meets the floor and ceiling, sealing the edges and preventing the wallpaper from peeling once you paint it.

Next, carefully prep the walls. First, apply the wallpaper with a light spackle or joint compound coat. This material will help prevent the wallpaper texture from showing through the new paint. Sand down the seams gently to make them less noticeable. Finally, seal the entire surface with an oil-based primer before painting.

Painting over wallpaper usually saves you a lot of time. But if the wallpaper quality isn’t good, you may have shoddy results, even after careful prep work. That’s why it’s vital to assess the quality of your wallpaper first before deciding whether you should paint it. 


Removing wallpaper

Generally, removing the wallpaper will provide superior and long-lasting results than merely painting over it. But it can be delicate work – one mistake, and you’ll damage your drywall. It’s also laborious and time-consuming depending on the type of wallpaper, when or how it was applied, and its number of layers. If you live in an older home, it may have several layers of wallpaper, which adds to the challenge of removing it.

If you are hanging new wallpaper, you apply the rolls in rows. The seams might show through the fresh paint when you paint over it. In addition, many wallpaper designs are textured, and the texture patterns might show through the new topcoat. The moisture in the paint can also cause the wallpaper to loosen, resulting in some sections bubbling or falling away.

You also have to consider your plans for the room. Painted wallpaper is notoriously difficult to remove. It requires extra effort – you will likely have to remove sections of drywall or plaster with the paper on it. But if you plan to stay in your current home, you’ll be better off removing the wallpaper to prevent more extensive problems in the future.


The bottom line

You may now have decided, “Do I need wallpaper removal, or should I paint it?”

It may be tempting to paint over wallpaper. After all, it’s a quick, cheap, and DIY-friendly option. 

However, home improvement experts recommend removing the wallpaper whenever possible. If you don’t have the skills, tools, or time, consider hiring a professional painter, like Custom Painting, Inc., to ensure your walls will look fresh and updated once again. A professional wallpaper removal and paint job will also prevent creating problems for yourself down the line.