Home » Can You Paint Over Vinyl Wallpaper? (Pros & Cons)

Can You Paint Over Vinyl Wallpaper? (Pros & Cons)

When asking can you paint over vinyl wallpaper, the first thing to know is to recognize the wallpaper types you have on your walls. You shouldn’t paint standard vinyl wallpaper type but can do it over paintable vinyl wall coverings whenever you want.

Even though it is hard to paint over vinyl wallpapers because paint can’t adhere to such a surface, it is possible. The secret is in one or two oil-based primer layers that you need to apply before painting.

Paintable vs. Standard Wallpaper

The first thing to check before trying to paint vinyl wallpaper on your walls is whether they are a standard or paintable type. A specific paintable wallpaper design allows paint receiving while painting over a standard variation can’t lead to a satisfying result.

Since the correctly dried glue won’t loosen while applying paint over paintable wall covering, there is no need for special treatment. You can practically treat it the same way as already primed drywall.

On the other hand, slick standard vinyl wallpaper is not practical for paint. This surface repels it, prevents it from sticking tightly, and loosens the glue. As a result, you will see bubbling and stains over the painted surface.


Can You Paint Over Old Vinyl Wallpaper?

As you know, you have two options to solve the problem with worn and ugly old wallpaper:

  • You should remove it, particularly if you have standard vinyl wallpaper glued on the walls
  • You can apply a paint layer over paintable wallpaper

Which version is suitable for you also depends on your skill, the amount of hard work you are prepared to do, and the improved quality you expect.

Once you decide to paint existing paintable wallpaper, it is necessary to determine the type you have on your walls. It will be enough to use a damp sponge and test whether the wallpaper is standard or vinyl-coated.

Wet a limited wall area and look for a result. If you have vinyl-coated wallpaper, nothing will happen. Otherwise, the standard type will absorb water, and you will spot dark stains on the moistened surface.

Then, you should find the best paint for you. Most manufacturers specify using the perma-white interior matt, semi-gloss, or satin paint type. It is crucial to let it dry for at least two hours under normal drying conditions.

You can also apply water-based paint, like latex or acrylic, but it requires prior oil-based primer application. This option can be tricky when you want to use light-colored paint over very dark wallpaper, and such a case requires applying two or even three primer layers.

Without such preparation, water-based paints will loosen wallpaper, and you can end up with highlighting seams. The problem is that paint makes wallpaper heavier, making this solution short-lived.

Finally, be prepared that painting the vinyl wallboard is sometimes the only option, particularly when it is tightly glued to the wall. Removing it would probably result in a huge mess and possibly tearing wall pieces.


Painting Over Vinyl Wallpaper

In ideal conditions, removing old wallpaper is better than painting it because direct painting over a smooth wall surface gives better results. On the other hand, painting over wallpaper is a more affordable option and a way to save some money while getting a new home look.

As I have already mentioned, removing old wallpaper can damage the wall. Plus, a used steamer may destroy the plaster, making this solution more expensive. Therefore, wallpaper painting is the most acceptable option for old houses to prevent wall re-plastering.

There is one more problem. People often solve the issue with worn wallpapers by gluing a new one over the existing layer. In other words, you may face one or even two wallpaper layers under a superficial one.

Removing all these layers requires time, hard-working, and an uncertain outcome that will cost a lot. Like it or not, it is quicker and less complicated to paint the wallpaper. Unfortunately, the situation will worsen when existing vinyl wallpaper is peeled and damaged. It often can’t hold the extra weight, so you need to remove it.

If your vinyl wallpaper is in decent condition, you can paint over it, but always start with thorough preparation, never rush the process, and use recommended techniques and tools. Only that way can you expect to be satisfied with a result.


Paint Over Wallpaper vs. Remove Wallpaper

Since experts disagree on whether it is a better option to paint or replace the old vinyl wallpaper, you should decide on your own what to do. Which option is convenient for you depends on your wishes, the situation you are in, and your budget. Let’s take a look.

When to paint over wallpaper

Painting vinyl wallpaper is not too complicated in most cases, but you should do your best to do it correctly.


  • Painting vinyl wallpaper is a pretty effortless DIY option
  • This process will leave plaster and drywall walls intact and undamaged
  • It is an affordable solution


  • It is necessary to vacuum existing wallpaper and dust it before painting
  • You can paint only smooth and undamaged vinyl wallpaper since the paint can’t cover most textures and patterns
  • It is an unacceptable option for already painted vinyl wallpaper
  • Inadequate preparation will cause unsatisfying results because the wrong primer may ruin all your efforts
  • It is necessary to repair torn parts, patch them with adequate wall spackle, and smooth air bubbles

When to remove wallpaper

Removing vinyl wallpaper before painting provides a long-lasting and better quality result. However, this option has a few disadvantages that make things complicated.


  • This option is superior, better-looking, and long-lasting
  • You won’t have an issue with seams, and the wall will be smoother in this case
  • There is no issue with frayed edges, air bubbles, and worn parts


  • Removing vinyl wallpaper is an annoying, time-consuming, and challenging task, particularly if you are inexperienced in this field
  • It is almost impossible to remove previously painted wallpaper without a professional help
  • This process may result in damaged walls and additional problems with drywall, particularly in old homes
  • It is a costly option


How to Paint Over Vinyl Wallpaper?

Step 1. Cleaning

Once you decide that your vinyl wallpaper is in an appropriate condition for painting, you should start the procedure with a thorough cleaning. Removing dirt is crucial for proper primer sticking to the vinyl wallpaper, allowing successful painting.

That is also a way to prevent rough patches from forming. It will be enough to make a mild detergent water solution and wipe down the wallpaper with a wet cloth. Be careful not to over-soak it to prevent loosening the glue and bubble forming on the surface.

If the vinyl wallpaper on your wall is filthy, you can use trisodium phosphate for a better result. Remember that it is crucial to let the wall entirely dry after washing and before applying primer.

Step 2. Priming

It is impossible to paint wallpaper with a vinyl finish straight over. In such a case, you need to apply a few paint layers, but the result will be poor. In fact, you will probably get a low-quality finish that won’t last for long.

Your best shot is to purchase a specialist primer to cover existing imperfections, stains, and patterns. Plus, it will prevent blistering and allow the top paint coat to adhere to the wall correctly.

The primer’s primary purpose is to allow the paint to stick tightly to the vinyl wallpaper and prevent the glue from appearing on the surface. The best option is to use a primer designed as a sealer or the oil-based one that works as an adhesive between the vinyl wallpaper and new paint.

In most cases, a water-based primer won’t work. However, you can still apply a water-based paint over the oil-based primer, whether you choose acrylic or latex.

Apply a thin primer layer, dry it for three to four hours, and then apply the paint. Remember that you need to add two or sometimes three coats when the paint is lighter than the existing wallpaper.

Step 3. Painting

Once you pick out the suitable oil-based primer, you can take any paint you like to cover old vinyl wallpaper. Use a roller for a smooth surface and a brush for painting over a textured wallpaper, and add two paint coats over the primer.

The first layer should be thicker to prevent bubbling, but it requires drying that typically lasts about 24 hours. Then, you can use sandpaper to prepare the surface for the second, thinner coat.

Once the second layer is entirely dry, you should look for potential bubbling and remove it. Remember to remove the painter’s tape before the paint completely cures.

Besides using water-based or oil-based paint, you can also apply high-gloss paint to the kitchen wall. This paint type will make maintenance more convenient and easier.



Once you decide to do something with old worn vinyl wallpapers in your home, you will have two options available on the market. You can remove the existing covering or paint over them.

Most experts recommend removing as a better option, but painting is way easier and sometimes the only solution you have at your disposal. In that case, you should pick out the right paint and hire a professional painter since this procedure is pretty complicated.

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