Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Simple question: Should a new wall be primed before applying wallpaper? Or can I just do it over finished drywall.

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Please yes! I am literally 90% done doing a complete remodel of my house. Other than the aluminum wiring that I have replaced the #1 biggest stupid thing I have dealt with is the 20 (no exaggeration) different types of wallpaper put on the house in 1967 during the custom build. Out of the 20 only 3-4 types (2 specific rooms) had primer. Those two rooms took like 20 mins a piece to get the wallpaper down with very little repairing.

In the rooms without primer, I often looked back and thought it might have been easier to rip drywall out and start over - it was that bad. So please prime first. If not for you in a few years, for the next home owners.

share|improve this answer
how did you know the wall was primed after peeling the old wallpaper off? I would imagine it would be so messy after peeling it off that you couldn't tell. – amphibient Oct 14 '13 at 20:20
Because every once in a while some of the wallpaper actually came off and you could see the outer layer of paper and sometimes see building notes... It might be me but it seemed where there was more sunlight the glue broke down a bit and the wallpaper would come off easier. Who knows. It sucked. I am not sure I will ever be able to wallpaper anything in my life after dealing with this mess - which is done now. – DMoore Oct 14 '13 at 20:26
Drywall is covered with paper. Paper is very porous and the glue of wallpaper fuses the wallpaper to the paper face of the unprimed drywall. Primed drywall is sealed, and the glue has a good surface to hold but not merge. – bib Oct 14 '13 at 22:42
great and concise explanation @bib. – amphibient Oct 15 '13 at 8:34
@bib - good comment. My house frustrations completely kept me from giving a technical answer. "Me mad at wallpaper" haha. – DMoore Oct 15 '13 at 20:49

I gave an up vote on "Yes, please prime", because I too have spent many hours scraping wallpaper off unprimed drywall. American tastes went though some tough times in the 60's and 70's with wallpaper. (Remember the DIAGONAL PHASE?). If your tastes ever change, it will be much easier to get off. Drywall primer also helps with positioning and keeping the seams glued down instead of curling up.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.