Should You Remove Wallpaper or Just Paint Over It?

By: Bambi Turner

Think you're ready to paint? Not so fast. You may have to remove the wallpaper first.
Think you're ready to paint? Not so fast. You may have to remove the wallpaper first.

Many homeowners love the look of wallpaper. It covers wall imperfections, adds unique textures and patterns, and creates a finished wall surface that's difficult to replicate with paint. Quality vinyl wallpaper that's professionally installed can last up to 15 years with little maintenance [source: NGPP].

For some people, wallpaper's durability can be a problem. Designs and patterns chosen decades ago simply don't work with a more modern decor. Homeowners who like to change the look of their home from time to time typically prefer paint, which is cheaper and easier to apply and can be changed up in a fraction of the time that wallpaper changes would take.


If you've had enough of your old, outdated wallpaper, it can be tempting just to paint right over it. After all, we've all heard horror stories about wallpaper removal, ranging from drywall that crumbled as the paper was removed to homeowners who peeled away dozens of layers of paper only to find more underneath. According to most home improvement experts, as well as the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers, wallpaper should be removed before painting whenever possible, as you'll experience better results and fewer problems down the road [source: NGPP].

For some people looking to replace their existing wallpaper with paint, stripping the paper simply may not be an option. They may find their walls are not in good enough shape, and that removing the paper causes more problems than it prevents. If you think this is the case in your home, you may be right. In this case, painting over wallpaper may be the best choice.

So how can you tell whether you should remove your paper or simply paint over it? There are a variety of factors to consider, from the condition and look of the wallpaper to your future plans for the space. To help you decide whether to paint over your paper or strip the walls, check out the tips and tricks in the next section.