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So I have a wall that has a very hard sort of textured wallpaper. Recently though the wall suffered some damage that turned into a hole. The whole has been patched and now we need to paint over that. Removing the wallpaper is not an option.

How can I paint over this? Should I use an oil based paint or latex based (or does it even matter)? What are some gotcha's to avoid when painting over wallpaper?

EDIT: I'm not really to concerned if the texture shows through. I actually like the texture so it's not a big deal.

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Just curious why the paper can't come down? Sounds like your doing more work trying to avoid work. –  Tester101 Jul 22 '10 at 19:51
    
What kind of texture is on the wallpaper? Is it a pattern or something random like a grit or sand? Does the texture of the patch match the wallpaper? –  aphoria Jul 23 '10 at 0:44
    
@aphoria: It's just an random engraved texture. No the patch doesn't match the wallpaper but it's a small hole and shouldn't matter much. –  Lucas McCoy Jul 23 '10 at 6:39
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8 Answers 8

Of course you can. Future owners of the house will swear at you to no end, but that's their problem, right? ;)

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One of those "If I knew then..." moments - if they're skimping on painting, what else are they skimping on? Several of my projects since buying this house have been updating/correcting shoddy work, and the painted-over wallpaper in the hall bathroom should have raised a warning. –  overslacked Mar 17 '11 at 19:13
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You can, some wall papers are designed to be painted over (I once dealt with a building that had wall paper that was designed to reinforce old plaster walls and then be painted), although most is not.

  • Make sure you remove any loose pieces, and cut out any bubbles that have formed.
  • Patch any uneven spots (where you cut the paper, seams, other marks).
  • Sand the patches after they dry.
  • Use a good quality oil based primer and cover the whole wall to seal it well.
  • If the paper is a dramatically different color than your paint, re-prime with a primer that matches your final paint (so probably a latex primer the second time).
  • Paint with your final color.

BobVilla.com has a descent set of notes on painting over oil-based primers.

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I would never recommend this doing this, but this should give you decent results:

  1. Pull off anything that is peeling up.
  2. Seal it with an oil or shellac based primer (not water based since that will loosen the paper).
  3. Once sealed, skim coat it with drywall mud to cover the seams/texturing.
  4. Sand, prime again, and paint.
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Skim coat FTW (for the win) –  dbracey Feb 27 '12 at 0:42
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If removing it's not an option, you may want to try a textured paint roller to hide any texture or seams that the wallpaper has.

Also, you should start with an oil based primer, since water based paint and primer can actually seep through the wallpaper and loosen it from the wall.

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You can paint over wallpaper - we had to do that when we moved into our current house - the prior owner had put the wallpaper directly on the drywall.

First, clean it as much as possible to remove grease, dirt, etc. Remove any loose paper, although you may be able to re-glue them in order to keep a consistent pattern, since you've stated you don't mind the pattern :)

Next, paint over with with an oil-based sealer/primer - there are some primers "designed" for painting over wallpaper, but the key is "sealer". You may need two coats of this, depending on the texture and/or color of the wallpaper.

Now, you can fill in any imperfections, and mud over the texture if you really wanted to get rid of it. You can even sand down any overlapping seams to make them less noticeable. Prime over any sanded or filled spots.

Now you're ready for paint. Finally, if you want to hide the spot and provide some defense from the next time, you can purchase plastic protectors that stick to the wall, and will prevent the door handle from making another hole.

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Painting over paper is normal in the UK, there is even “lining paper” that is designed to be painted over.

There are 3 issues you may get:

  • Will the water in the new paint unglue the paper from the wall?
  • Will the new paint stick to the paper?
  • The paper will be harder to remove when someone has to, much harder if you use a oil based paint like other answers are telling you do.

However if you have old plaster that is likely to be damaged by removing the paper, then painting over the paper can be the best option if you don’t wish to have to have the room re-plastered.

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I am in the middle of a similar project right now! It's in an RV, where the wallpaper is over plywood, maybe 1/4", but quite soft. Any scraping would damage the plywood quite a bit. If I really wanted to remove the wallpaper, I would probably remove the plywood, too, but that's a bigger project than this 22-year-old RV deserves.

The quality of a paint job depends heavily on the preparation. Remove fixtures and the face plates of electrical outlets. Fill in screw and nail holes and let the putty dry well. Sand smooth. Use a bright light from the side to find blemishes.

Wallpaper is difficult to prep really well, and that means your final job won't be as good.

We're going to try using tissue paper in the RV. First, prime and let dry well. Put a layer of paint down, then a layer of tissue paper in the wet paint, then roll on another layer of paint. This will cover the the blemishes in the wallpaper and provide an interesting texture in the end. I don't know how it will turn out, but ask again in a few days. :-)

EDIT: The result looked really good. It is also more durable than I expected (I thought it would chip easily). Making the wrinkles and texture fine will make it easier to clean later.

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This work? Let us know! –  SamtheBrand Feb 15 '12 at 19:34
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You can safely cover almost any wallpaper that cannot be removed with the following method:

  1. Scrape away any edges/peeling spots that can be taken away until your edges are smooth.

  2. Seal and prime with ZINSSER BINS SHELLAC BASED PRIMER SEALER.

  3. Fill any weird areas with plaster and smooth to finish.

  4. Recoat any of your fill patches with BINS.

  5. Paint.

This will last 'forever'. The Shellac base is alcohol which has a smaller molecule than any water/oil with which your wallpaper was applied. It hardens to a shell that makes a beautiful paint surface for either latex or oil. I have also occasionally added a roll on texture to the final paint coat to mask wallpaper texture and patterns.

This is of course only my opinion, but I have done it on 1000s of square feet of separate remodels with different heating/cooling/original materials/etc. The BINS is a bit more expensive, but holds up the best, I have found, of all the primers.

Cheers and good luck!

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