Why It's a Bad Idea to Paint Over Wallpaper

Courtesy Spring Cleaners LTD

Have you decided that it is finally time to change the interior look of your walls, because the wallpaper no longer pleases you? Or maybe it is that you have arrived in a new home only to find out that the walls are still covered in loose wallpaper. Repainting is always a good option, especially when you select a color that looks good with your furniture. The right tones really have the power to change the feel of the whole interior, not to mention how beautiful a room is with the right paint. By selecting a light color and hue, you can even make a small room look bigger, which is fantastic.

When the walls of your home are currently covered in wallpaper, you may be tempted to just paint over it. It can save you the need to hire a cleaning service, sure, as well as spare you the effort related to removing the wallpaper. After all, when you are a do-it-yourself enthusiast, you may as well choose your tasks more carefully and take the path of least resistance. When you look at it from this point of view, it may seem like a good idea.

But it is most certainly not!

A lot of things may lead to disastrous results when you paint over wallpaper. And don't think that 'disaster' is put mildly. Many potential problems surround the decision to paint over wallpaper, which is why you should avoid this whenever possible. Here are few reasons to discourage you from this idea:

Wallpaper often times hides wall damage, which should be fixed

Think of wallpaper as a blanket for the walls that prevents you from seeing the sheets underneath. Wallpaper may be in fact the last line of defense holding an area of the wall together. While removing it may somewhat worsen the problem, it is an issue you have to take care of anyway. It is most certainly better to be aware of a problem than not know about it. Some people fear that removing wallpaper may in fact damage their walls. This is especially true in the case where the product used was wallboard or similar. If you are extra careful when you work to remove the wallpaper, there should not be an issue with the whole procedure. All you need is some cleaning service after that. If your walls do suffer some damage during removal, you can always return them to their former glory with the right repairs so it shouldn't really make you doubt whether or not to remove the wallpaper.

Patterns, seams and color may show through the paint

This one is a serious nail in the coffin of the idea to paint over wallpaper. Because wallpaper is usually applied in rows, this means the seams where the rows line up can easily be seen through the paint. Additionally, some wallpaper has various textures. Often you see flowers, cartoon characters and other pictures that quite noticeably change the surface of the material. Painting over such textures will never hide them and they will simply show through the paint. Imagine the result. It doesn't look too good, does it? Lastly, consider that wallpaper colors, even though hidden at first, may show through the paint after some time has passed. It may not happen immediately, but weeks or months later, which is what we call a recipe for disaster. Imagine the scenario - you have already moved furniture in the room and you are enjoying the new interior, when suddenly you realize you are going to need to remove everything, do wall renovation all over again and call for a cleaning company to deal with the aftermath. Disastrous.

Moisture from the paint can easily loosen wallpaper

Even if you think that wallpaper in your home is sturdy and still in good condition, chances are that applying paint may damage it severely. Aside from the aforementioned problems, applying extra moisture may cause the wallpaper to loosen its adhesive. This could potentially lead to detachment and ripping of the material. This is a real threat, especially when the wallpaper is already damaged and torn in some places. Another unpleasant side effect that may occur when paint is applied is bubbling of the wallpaper. All of this can potentially lead to way more work than simply removing the material.

You could prime the wallpaper with an oil-based primer-sealer, which will inhibit any moisture in the finish paint from lifting the paper.  This usually works... but will make the wallpaper even more difficult to remove!

Wallpaper that has been painted is even more difficult to remove!

!t is impossible to know whether or not you will introduce changes to your interior in the future. If that happens, you will be faced with a very difficult task - removing wallpaper that has been painted over. You will likely need dissolving chemicals and a way to get them through the layer of paint, which is thick enough. And that is just to scour the paint film. You will then further have to work on stripping the paper. All of this amounts to a huge amount of work and the need for A LOT of home cleaning afterwards, which you most certainly do not want to go through.

Wallpaper is not that difficult to remove anyway

One of the final reasons why you should not paint over wallpaper is that stripping wallpaper isn't all that difficult.  People mostly fear the idea because there is going to be need for some cleaning, but it is nothing to worry about.   Laying down some tarps to catch the paper and the drips from the chemical remover is about it, followed by a little sanding and priming to be sure the walls are ready for the new finish paint.  Messy, yes.  Hard... not usually!

Take into account all of the aforementioned cons of painting over wallpaper. Hopefully you realize that it is not a good idea!

About the author:  For more house cleaning ideas visit springcleaners.org.uk