Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?

Perhaps the most dreaded home improvement project is stripping wallpaper off of a wall. You have some great design ideas for the house but they all involve paint, and you really don’t want to spend days on end with a putty knife and hand steamer trying to get 20-year old wallpaper off the wall.  In fact, you are looking for any option that doesn’t involve removing the wallpaper. Can you paint over it?
Woman painting over wallpaper.

You think, certainly there must be a way to paint or texture over the wallpaper, and so you head off to the internet for some advice, where you find 50 videos that tell you how easy it is to paint over wallpaper. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you the real downside – the reality of what happens to wallpaper when you paint over it. More specifically, the issue is what happens to the paste or adhesive that is holding the wallpaper to the wall.

Painting Over Wallpaper Can Be A Bad Idea

Generally speaking, most wallpaper adhesives are water based which means they are affected by moisture.  When you paint over the wallpaper, moisture from water-based paint can soak into the old wallpaper paste and soften it back up. At that point;

  • The old wallpaper may curl, start lifting at the seams, or even delaminate.
  • Your new paint may not properly adhere to the wallpaper.
  • Imperfections in the wall that were hidden by the wallpaper texture or pattern may become conspicuous once the paint is applied.
  • Any texture in the wallpaper will show through to the new paint.

If any of these mishaps occur, the hours invested in your new paint job will have all been wasted and you are back where you started – having to remove the old wallpaper.  

The truth is, removing that old wallpaper is not nearly as difficult as it may seem. With the proper tools, and a little patience and elbow grease, the old wallpaper will be gone and you will have a clean, smooth palette to paint on in short order.

Remove The Wallpaper Before You Start Painting

Once you’ve prepared the area you are going to remove the wallpaper from, it’s time to put together a list of the products and tools you will need to get the old paper off the wall. 

Fortunately, ROMAN Products has developed the removers and tools to make the job as easy as possible, and you can get these with a simple trip to your local big box store.


If you are the type of person that prefers an all-in-one kit, ROMAN’s PIRANHA Wallpaper Removal Kit is the ideal choice. The kit includes:

  • Enough wallpaper removal concentrate to remove 1,500 square feet of wallpaper.
  • A wallpaper scoring tool
  • A wallpaper scraper

In addition to the kit, you will need to have the following on hand:

  • Small bucket and sponge
  • Ladder
  • Utility knife 
  • Drop cloths to protect floor/furniture

ROMAN has other products as well as larger quantities of wallpaper removers to meet the needs of both the homeowner and the professional painter/wallpaper installer. Some helpful removers are:

The Process Of Removing The Wallpaper

The secret to removing old wallpaper with as little difficulty as possible is to follow this simple step-by-step process:

1. Cover the floors with painter tarps.

2. Remove all outlet and switch plates, after making sure that the power has been disconnected.

3. Take the scoring tool and firmly press down (but not too hard) as you move it in a circular motion covering all of the surface of the wallpaper. This tool has small blades that are preset to only perforate the wallpaper and not the drywall beneath it.

4. Mix the remover concentrate according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it liberally to the wall with a sponge or sprayer, making sure that the paper is well saturated. The wallpaper removal solution is going to do the hard work for you.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes before starting to scrape off the old material. Work a section at a time, making sure the wallpaper stays wet.

5. Start scraping from the ceiling down, making sure the wall stays wet while you are working. If necessary, apply more solution as you go. After all the wallpaper has been removed, rinse the wall with clean water and dry it off. Make sure the wall is completely dry before you start to paint.

ROMAN Products Is The Number One Source For Wallpaper Removers And Adhesives

With over 75 years of experience serving retail customers in addition to professional installers, we have learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to wallpaper removal and installation. Our products are rated number 1 in America because they:

  • Are economical
  • Easy to use
  • Get the job done right the first time

Contact our customer service team Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM CST, for guidance on the proper use of our products, product recommendations, or if you are a designer or architect looking to use our products on a commercial project.  We always look forward to hearing from you.