Painting Wallpaper – How To Do It Right!

Ah wallpaper!  It’s making a comeback this year for sure, but it looks nothing like the craze from years ago.  Today’s choices are gorgeous and who knows – maybe in 20 years, those will look horribly dated too.  Isn’t that how trends work?  But, what if you’re stuck with wallpaper that’s been on the walls for decades?  Instead of ripping it off and creating a disastrous mess,  why not try painting wallpaper?

A prime example is the house I lived in that was built in the late 1980s.  If you’re old enough, take yourself back to that time and remember all the country-style kitchens with shades of hunter green, maroon, country blues, and of course, wallpaper.  In my case,  my parents picked a “lovely” whitish background filled with ducks all over it.  And to top it off, it had an equally lovely border in country blue with more ducks gracing those walls.  My sister lives there now and those ducks needed to go!

Before and After - Painting Wallpaper. I'll show you how I updated this dining room by painting over existing wallpaper #diyprojects #paintingwallpaper #diningroom
Painting Wallpaper - What you need to know for this DIY project. I'll show you how to do it and do it correctly #createandfind #diyprojects #paintingwallpaper
>How to paint wallpaper the right way - Tackle this DIY project and get rid of that eyesore wallpaper!

Painting Wallpaper – How to do it Right!

If you’re on the fence about this project, go for it!  I was nervous to try it at first, but it turned out beautifully.  Ducks be gone!  But first, when is painting over wallpaper a bad idea?

When You Shouldn’t Paint Wallpaper:

  • If your wallpaper is peeling or brittle.  Just don’t.  If it’s trying to come down, take it down first and then repair any necessary issues with the walls.
  • Textured wallpaper.  Unless you’re okay with textured, painted walls, I would advise against this one.  Paint won’t cover texture.
  • Wallpaper with uneven and very noticeable seams.  Most wallpaper has seams that aren’t noticeable among all the patterns, but when you paint it a solid color, you’ll still see a hint of the seams.  Unless you want to take the time to cover the seams and then sand it down even, I’d skip it.

So if none of the above categories apply to your walls, then get ready to paint over that eyesore wallpaper.  And trust me – it’s easy.  Time-consuming, but easy!

How to do it right:

First things first – let’s talk about the supplies you need.  Some of these are basic painting supplies that are good investments to keep on hand.  You don’t need fancy tools.  Painting walls is tedious and you need to be careful when going around doors or ceilings, but with patience, you can do it with minimal supplies.

Affiliate links provided – see my full disclosure here. This means if you purchase something – we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

You certainly don’t have to have all of these, but there are a few that I use every project and it just makes life easier.


  1. Remove all outlet covers and store in Ziploc bags for later
  2. If you are unsure about your ability to not get paint on the ceiling or door frames, use painter’s tape to cover those areas.  This is by far the most tedious step, but I’m not that steady of a painter when it comes to walls, so it’s necessary for me
  3. Cut in around the ceilings and windows/doors with a brush – I detest this part.  It’s super boring, takes forever, and I have zero patience.  But – necessary
  4. Using a roller, prime the walls with one coat of Kilz primer.  I used the oil-based stuff for this project.  It smells pretty bad so leave a window or door open if possible and I wouldn’t advise doing it with kiddos in the house if you can help it
  5. One thin coat of primer is what you’re after.  You don’t want globby primer on the walls.  And beware that it dries pretty quick so careful not to drag the brush or roller around the surfaces too much
  6. When the primer is fully dry (follow the directions on the can), add a second coat exactly like the first – You need two coats of primer to cover up all the patterns on the wallpaper.  One won’t be enough
  7. Now for the fun part.  Once your two coats of primer are dry, you can move on to paint.  Repeat steps 3 through 6 with paint.
  8. Remove all the painters tape.  The reason is, if you don’t and your paint dries, you run the risk of pulling it off when you take off the tape.  If you remove it when the paint is wet, this won’t happen.  It stinks because you’ll have to re-tape for the second coat, but it’s happened to me too many times to skip this step.  You start pulling tape and here comes some sheetrock and/or paint with it.  Not good.
  9. Retape – repeat a second coat of paint.  Remove tape.
  10. Stand back and admire your handy work.  And in our case – good riddance to the ducks!

Helpful Hints – Keep a damp rag handy.  If you get any drips, wipe it up quickly.  Also wise to lay a drop cloth on the floor.  I set the paint cans on plastic bags to protect the floor from drips.

Time it takes:

I spent about three days (spaced out) working on this DIY project.  Mainly because my sis lives an hour away.  You have to factor in drying time too.  Don’t rush it.  Make sure your primer is completely dry as well as the paint before you attempt the second coat.

So here’s what we started with:Painting over dining room wallpaper - before pic

And here’s the result!Painting dining room wallpaper - update your dated wallpaper with this DIY project #createandfind #paintingwallpaper #diyprojects

Was it worth it?

Absolutely, 100% YES.  The change is unreal.  I can’t wait to show you the finished room because she recently got a new light fixture.  That dated brown light needed to go out to pasture with the ducks!  It looks like a whole new room and it’s only painted.  For the paint, she chose Sherwin Williams Sea Salt.  It’s such a gorgeous blue-green color and I used an off the shelf white paint for under the chair rail.  The contrast is perfect.

My favorite part of her new dining room other than “no ducks” is the red accent color she has from the chairs and art.  An unexpected bright spot of color in an otherwise neutral room.  Painting wallpaper and updating a dated dining room with paint #createandfind #paintingwallpaperCan you believe the difference??  And it’s just paint!  You need patience and some time.  If you already have some supplies, it’s not terribly expensive either.Painting Wallpaper - How to do it and what to use for this DIY project. #createandfind #paintingwallpaperDon’t think you need a complete gut job to transform a space.  And even though takes a bit of DIY skill, it’s possible for most people.  Does it have to be perfect?  No.  But when you think of the money you’ll save by doing it yourself, it’s worth the time and effort.  Painting wallpaper is an upgrade that makes a huge difference!

And be sure to sign up for the email list!  I also built my sis a farmhouse dining room table – check out how easy it was here!  

Pin for later!Painting Wallpaper - How to do it correctly and make a huge impact with this DIY project! #createandfind #diyprojects #paintingwallpaper #howtopaintwallpaper

For more DIY Projects, check out these posts!  (click on any pic for details)

4 thoughts on “Painting Wallpaper – How To Do It Right!”

  1. What a transformation! I didn’t realize you could paint wallpaper. What a great idea. I am thinking of applying wallpaper to make some accent walls in my home, and now I’m wondering if it will look dated in five years. I guess I can always paint it in five years if it does go out of style. HA. Great tutorial, friend! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.