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Can I Paint Over Wallpaper? San Francisco Painting Advice

Can I Paint Over Wallpaper? San Francisco Painting Advice

Wallpaper can be an elegant and effective way to decorate a room, but what happens when you want to change styles? Or what if you buy a home, but it comes with old wallpaper that you don't like? Painting contractors all agree that the ideal solution is removing the old wallpaper before painting. Sometimes, however, that old wallpaper paste seems worse than superglue! Just five minutes of scraping wallpaper can lead even hard-core do-it-yourselfers to ask, "Can I paint over old wallpaper?"

Short answer: Yes! It is possible to paint over wallpaper. But...

When can I paint over old wallpaper?

You need to make sure the wallpaper isn't going to come off and ruin your new paint job. If the wallpaper is already peeling of its own accord, you should probably do the work of removing it (or have a professional painting contractor remove the wallpaper for you). Since it's already peeling, it hopefully shouldn't be too hard to remove.

So, if the wallpaper seems seriously adhered to the wall, and it's in decent condition, you can go ahead and plan to paint over it. But keep in mind that if you want to remove it later, painting over it will make that more difficult.

How do you paint over wallpaper?

Step 1: Clean! As with any interior house painting project, the first step is to clean the walls. You can use water with a little soap in it, but a solution of TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) will usually cut the grime a little better. Don't soak the walls too much, since this will loosen the wallpaper paste. Don't leave soap residue either; wipe with a clean, wet cloth when you are done washing, and then wait for the walls to dry thoroughly.

Step 2: Repair! If there are any small areas where the wallpaper is peeling up, glue it back down so that it is smooth. If the paper has been torn completely away in any places, use spackle (also known as wall joint compound) in thin layers to fill in the irregularities in the surface. Also spackle any other scrapes or gouges.

Step 3: Sand! After the spackle has dried, use a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth down and level out any places that you applied it. Also sand the seams in the wallpaper so that they will not show through the paint.

Step 4: Prime! Use an oil-based primer, since this will not loosen the wallpaper glue. Paint a uniform layer over the whole wall, as this will seal the wallpaper and prevent it from peeling or absorbing water. You can have your paint store tint the primer so that you will need fewer topcoats to get good coverage.

Step 5: Paint! Once your primer is dry, you can paint the wall as normal. Painting contractors would typically recommend using a roller for most of the wall spaces, and just use a brush around the edges of the walls.

Before you begin, make sure you protect the room. Use tape and tarps to protect your floor, light fixtures, door knobs, and anything else you don't want washed and painted.

Professional interior house painting and wallpaper removal

For best results, a professional house painter is always your best bet. A quality San Francisco painting company like MB JESSEE will get the project done far quicker than a typical do-it-yourselfer, and with a smoother, more attractive finish. We are always happy to give a free estimate, and at that time we can help you decide whether it is a better plan to remove your wallpaper or to paint over it.

MB JESSEE, professional house painting services for San Francisco, East Bay, Contra Costa, Marin, Alamo, Berkeley, Danville and the surrounding communities.

Photo credit: Benjamin Moore

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