Priming over wallpaper as an alternative to stripping wallpaper

Skip Stripping! Prime Over Wallpaper for Easy Update

Ditch the mess! Learn how to prime over wallpaper for a fast & easy painted finish. Save time & money on your next home project.

Skip Stripping! Prime Over Wallpaper for Easy Update

So you’re itching for a fresh look on your walls, but the thought of tackling mountains of old wallpaper makes you groan? You’re not alone. Stripping wallpaper can be a messy, time-consuming battle. But what if there was a quicker, easier way to achieve a smooth, painted finish? Enter: priming and painting over wallpaper.

Skip the Stripper, Grab the Primer: Why Priming Over Wallpaper Could Be Your New Favorite Trick:

Here’s why wallpaper priming might be your new best friend:

  • Time Saver: Stripping wallpaper can take days, especially for stubborn varieties that seem welded to the wall. Priming can be done in a fraction of the time, freeing you up for other decorating adventures (or relaxation!).
  • Sweat Saver: The physical effort of scraping and steaming wallpaper can be brutal. Skip the workout and opt for the less strenuous task of applying primer. Your arms (and back) will thank you.
  • Wall Saver: Removing wallpaper can sometimes damage the underlying drywall, especially if it’s old or poorly adhered. You might end up with a bigger job on your hands patching holes and repairing imperfections. Priming allows you to avoid the risk of unnecessary repairs and potentially save money in the long run.
  • Surprise, It Might Look Great! Believe it or not, some wallpapers, particularly those with a smooth texture, can actually provide a nice base for paint. Priming can create a uniform surface and even add a touch of visual interest with the subtle texture of the wallpaper peeking through. This can be a great way to achieve a unique, vintage-inspired look.
  • Cost Cutter: Think about all the supplies you’d need for stripping – wallpaper stripper, scoring tools, trash bags, not to mention the replacement razor blades you’ll inevitably go through. Priming requires just the primer and some basic application tools like rollers, brushes, and drop cloths. It’s a much lighter investment on your wallet.

But Wait, There's a Catch (or Two)

While priming offers a compelling wallpaper stripping alternative, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here’s what to consider before grabbing a can of primer:

  • Wallpaper Condition: Is the wallpaper loose, peeling, or bubbling at the seams? If so, you’ll need to address those problem areas before priming. Loose wallpaper won’t provide a good base for paint and could lead to bubbling later, defeating the purpose of priming altogether. In these cases, spot-adhere the loose sections with a strong wallpaper glue or size (a liquid adhesive used to strengthen wallpaper) before priming.
  • Wallpaper Type: Certain types of wallpaper, like vinyl with a glossy, non-porous surface, can be tricky to prime over. These wallpapers may not accept primer as well, leading to peeling or poor paint adhesion. If you’re unsure about your wallpaper type, consult a professional for advice. A quick test with a small amount of primer in an inconspicuous spot can also be helpful to see how well it adheres.
  • Wallpaper Texture: A great percentage of wallpaper has a smooth surface. This is perfect for priming over. Others are embossed. The level of the embossing will determine if the wallpaper needs to come off or if you can paint over it. Heavy embossing will telegraph through the paint when completed. If it is a light embossing, it may hide under the roller texture of final paint since you will be applying a coat of primer and two coats of finish paint. This is something you need to test for before you get to deep in the project.
  • Number of Layers: Multiple layers of wallpaper can create a thicker, bumpier surface. While priming can still work in this case, you might need additional coats to achieve a smooth finish. Be prepared to apply a coat of primer, sand lightly in between coats to create a uniform texture, and then apply another coat or two for full coverage.

It can be overwhelming and a little much for a DIY project. If you feel that it’s more than you want to take on, reach out and we would be glad to help.

Priming Wallpaper for Success

If you’ve decided to give priming a go, here are some quick tips to ensure a successful outcome:

  • Choose the right primer: Opt for a primer specifically designed for wallpaper. These primers create a better bond with the wallpaper surface and help prevent the wallpaper adhesive from reactivating, which could cause the wallpaper to detach later. We always recommend a fast-dry oil-based primer for this.
  • Clean is key: Wash the wallpaper thoroughly with a damp cloth and a mild detergent to remove any dust or dirt. This will help the primer adhere better. Allow it to dry completely before priming.
  • Prime Time: Apply a generous, even coat of primer using a roller for larger areas and a brush for corners and trim. Let the primer dry completely before applying a second coat if necessary.

Almost Done! Painting over the Wallpaper

Now that you have all of your wallpaper primed, its time to ready for paint. Here are the last few tips to creating a beautiful painted room with no signs of the hidden wallpaper:

  • Lightly sand the walls: For this step, you can use a regular sanding sponge to lightly sand the surface of the walls. Don’t sand through the primer. Think of this as if you were just wiping the walls down for dust.
  • Spackle any imperfections: Once the walls are primed, you may see some picture hanger holes or dents from years gone by. Use a lightweight spackle to patch these areas and once they are dry lightly sand them with the sanding sponge.
  • Fix any loose paper: If you see a seam that is loose, cut the loose paper out and prime that area again with the oil primer. You may need to spackle that area when the primer is dry and lightly sand it smooth.
  • Last Cleaning: You are almost done and should have a great surface for your new paint. With a damp cloth, wipe the walls down one last time to clean and you can feel confident in painting your room with the paint color of your choice.
CoverStory Toni paint 1 priming over wallpaper

So, the next time you’re faced with dated wallpaper, don’t automatically reach for the stripper. Consider the time-saving, budget-friendly option of priming. With a little prep work and the right primer, you could be on your way to a fresh, painted look in no time, and with minimal mess and effort.

Carolina Painting and Pressure Cleaning can help you with all your interior painting needs, Reach out and we would be glad to help.

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