Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Paint over Wallpaper? Yes You Can!

Can you guess why I am sharing this?

I am painting over wallpaper in the house I am selling:

Paint over Wallpaper? Yes You Can!

Stripping wallpaper is a tedious job, and sometimes it's not merely tedious, but darn near impossible. If there are numerous layers, or it has been pasted to an unpainted, unsized wall, you simply cannot remove it without doing major damage to the underlying plaster or wallboard, requiring extensive repair. There's an easier way. It is possible to paint over wallpaper, if you do it correctly and with a little work, you can hide all the seams too.

  • Remove all the loose paper, taking special care around the seams. Using wallpaper seam glue, paste down remaining loose edges.

  • Prime the walls one coat of fast-drying shellac or alcohol based primer. These tend to be smelly, so make sure you have lots of ventilation. Unlike waterbased primers, these will not loosen the wallpaper. Use a short nap roller, one sold for smooth walls.

  • Using the widest drywall knife you can, apply drywall mud over all seams and flaws. Sand smooth. Prime over the drywalled areas. You may need to go back and re-drywall some flaws. Take time with this step, and make sure you have good light. Use a large sanding sponge, available in paint or hardware stores, rather than sandpaper. It will be easier to get a smooth, flush finish.

  • Using clear or white caulking, caulk along the ceiling, baseboard and trim. This will help you get a nicer line when you cut in the edges with a brush.

Now you're ready for paint. Don t use cheap paint over all your hard work! Go to a good paint store one that real painters use - and buy the best quality available. Use PVA drywall primer to seal the surfaces. Since glossier paints will show up remaining imperfections in your wall, consider some of the excellent washable flat paints now on the market, or an eggshell finish if you want lustre. No matter what finish or color you choose, count on doing two coats for the best looking, most washable surface.

Does this sound like too much work? You can save some steps and texture your walls. No sanding required and you can be a bit messy! Prime the walls as above, and caulk the edges. Buy a 4-6 flexible drywall knife and a 5 gallon bucket of joint compound for an average size room. On a scrap board or piece of cardboard, experiment with applying the compound until you have a pleasing finish. Have fun with it! If you don t like the way it' s coming out, scrape it off and try again until you have a technique and finish you're happy with. Tape the trim before applying it to the walls. Once your walls are done and the texture dry, you can use a large wet sponge to smooth out any rough edges.

Prime the walls with PVA primer, and apply two coats of your chosen finish paint, using a medium or long napped roller.

There. Nobody will ever know there's wallpaper under your gorgeous new paint job!

-Carina MacDonald

Carina MacDonald has been a painting contractor since
1979 and has tackled everything from large commercial buildings and Victorian homes to faux painting a child s room and wallpapering a bathroom. If it stands still long enough, she can figure out a way to paint it correctly!


Pray I don't wear myself out.

Eric Standlee
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