Painting directly on wallpaper: technique and advice


To save precious time or to avoid bothering to try to peel off an unpeelable wallpaper, you may be tempted to paint directly on an old tapestry. This practice is indeed possible, provided you do not go about it anyhow, at the risk of missing its effect. If you are bored of your wallpaper or want to freshen up your interior, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the steps to follow to succeed.

How to prepare your site?

Before you start, know that you will need to apply a lot of paint to completely hide the wallpaper and to obtain an aesthetic and harmonious result. Indeed, painting a wall previously covered with wallpaper is not as easy as repainting a bare wall, already painted or covered with paneling. If you can remove the wallpaper, this is a better solution. Accordingly, we recommend that you only paint the wallpaper if you have no other choice.

To achieve this, equip yourself with clean rags, a damp sponge, wallpaper paste and smoothing compound. Choose your paint, preferably a glycerol model that will hold better and be more durable. You will also need a refinishing brush, roller, paint tray and a telescopic handle or stepladder to paint the upper part. Finally, consider the protective kit of plastic sheeting and masking tape.

How to paint on the wallpaper? Steps to follow

To make your project a success, here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: prepare your support

Wash your wallpaper with a slightly damp sponge and let it dry well. If some parts of the wallpaper come off, glue them back with a suitable glue, then fill any holes and cracks with a smoothing compound. Let dry, lightly sand the coated surface, then dust.

Be careful in cleaning up the support, because any oversights will be visible once the wallpaper has been repainted.

Step 2: apply a coat of primer

Using plastic sheeting and masking tape, protect your floor, ceiling and baseboards. For best results, turn off the electricity, remove sockets and switches, but also radiators.

Apply a coat of primer to promote adhesion of the paint. After delineating the borders with masking tape, start by demarcating the ends of the area to be painted with the refinishing brush. Then apply a thin coat of primer with the roller, doing a cross application. Make a first vertical pass then, without reloading the roller with paint, make a horizontal pass to smooth the whole. Do this in areas of around 1 m² for best results.

Step 3: apply the paint

When the primer coat is dry, you can apply your first coat of paint. To do this, clear the corners and edges with your styling brush. Then proceed in areas of 1 m² with the roller. Make a first vertical pass, then an immediate second horizontal pass to stretch the paint layer and harmonize the rendering.

Then let this first coat dry well, referring to the time indicated on the manufacturer’s instructions. Once it is dry, repeat the operation identically until applying at least three coats. If necessary, add an additional layer to completely cover the patterns and colors of the wallpaper.

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