Paint Over Wallpaper? Science Says No!

The hotly debated subject of painting over wallpaper (or not, as the case may be) is one we’ve touched upon on numerous occasions. Nevertheless, it still represents one of the most commonly asked questions among customers we encounter on a daily basis.

It’s no secret that stripping wallpaper is the kind of job pretty much everyone in the world hates. No matter how much you enjoy DIY and decorating in general, the prospect of removing wallpaper is enough to put you off bothering in the first place. Tedious, messy and seemingly unending – it’s hardly surprising most are inclined to do whatever they can to avoid it.

Paint Over Wallpaper? Science Says No!

Hence the reason why thousands of homeowners decide to simply go ahead and paint over wallpaper, rather than removing it.

Which in some instances has the potential to deliver decent enough results. As professionals, we’d never for one moment try to suggest that painting over wallpaper guarantees outright disaster. If you’re lucky, pretending the wallpaper isn’t there and hiding it under one or more coats of paint gets the job done well enough.

But at the same time, you’re taking the kind of risk that we (again as professionals) cannot and will not recommend.

What’s the Big Deal?

So assuming that it’s technically possible to paint over wallpaper, what’s the big deal? Why should it be avoided at all costs, given that it could potentially save a serious amount of time, effort and mess?

The answer – it all comes down to basic science. And we do mean basic, so stick with us for a moment or two at least!

It’s inadvisable to paint over wallpaper for the simple reason that wallpaper paste is itself water-based. Meaning that unless the paste beneath the paper is flawlessly locked away from the paint with a watertight seal, the moisture from the paint is liable to seep into the paste. Which it will – along the seams and around the edges of the wallpaper, not to mention anywhere the paper is split, torn, cracked or worn in general. When this happens, the moisture from the paint compromises the ability of the glue to do its job and the adhesion between the wall and the paper is weakened.

What’s also worth considering is that adding liquid to certain types of wallpaper can cause the paper to shrink. In which case you’re looking at twice the trouble.  Weakening of the bond between the wall on the paper is never a good thing.  Shrinkage of the paper upon which the paint is applied can also lead to disastrous results.  Combine the two and you have yourself the perfect recipe for the mother of all failures.

But the real kicker is that the resulting issues caused by applying paint to wallpaper don’t always make themselves known right away. In fact, it could be a matter of weeks, or months or longer than a year before things begin to go south. Quite literally – you could be looking at the wallpaper falling off the walls and taking the new coat of paint with it.

Should this happen, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need to start again from scratch. Which is why as far as we’re concerned, it represents a risk that simply isn’t worth taking in the first place.

Peace of Mind

There’s a chance you might get away with it, but science suggests this probably isn’t the case. What’s more, do you really want to spend the next year or so waiting and wondering whether or not your hard work is going to come crashing down around you at any moment? Is it really worth all this doubt, simply for the sake of avoiding a few hours (or days) of frenzied wallpaper stripping?

The answer is of course, no – it isn’t. Especially given that just as long as you approach the stripping process proactively and professionally, it doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as you might expect. Wallpaper removal products and associated technology have come a long way over recent years, meaning it really doesn’t have to turn out to be the back-breaking chore most homeowners expect it to be. It takes time and things get messy, but it’s definitely worth doing.

Alternatively, you could always have the experts come in and do it for you – if looking for the quickest and easiest option available!

For more information on any of our interior painting services or to arrange an obligation free quotation, get in touch with a member of the Homm CMS customer service team today.