Can You Paint Over Wallpaper Border?

Image of a wallpaper but Can You Paint Over Wallpaper Border?Wallpaper is an excellent way to cover wall imperfections and add color and pattern to a space. However, wallpaper borders can quickly become old and dated, prompting a necessary change in decor to keep your place looking excellent. Removing a wallpaper border is a hard job that many homeowners tend to avoid. Instead, most owners opt to use other materials to cover the border. There are several options for covering up wallpaper borders, but Can You Paint Over Wallpaper Border as a way of covering it?

Yes, you can paint over the wallpaper border. But the color will only last if you use the right paints and primers. Furthermore, don’t forget that preparation work is what will make or break your paint project. So, ensure that you have covered all seams to keep your paint from lifting and your finish from looking bad. 

Keep browsing below to get all the information you need to have before painting your wallpaper border. These include the right products to use, the proper way to prepare the surface, and things you should do to avoid future problems.

Is Painting Over Wallpaper a Bad Idea?

Painting over wallpaper is a task you can do, provided you follow the necessary preparation steps. However, I recommend stripping wallpaper whenever you can before painting your walls. This way, you’ll get better results and fewer repair problems down the road.

For some houses, however, removing the wallpaper isn’t an option. The underlying walls may not be in good condition; hence, removing the paper does more harm than good. If that’s the case, then painting over the wallpaper isn’t such a bad idea.

So how do you know when to strip the wallpaper before painting? 

  • When Should You Strip the Wallpaper?

It’s always best to strip heavy fabric-backed vinyl wallpapers before painting. The paint doesn’t hold onto them very well, so they always form bubbles on top. In addition, most wallpapers are textured, and some textures are quite noticeable. These textures and patterns are likely to show through dried paint; hence you should strip the wallpaper before the paint job.

You should also remove wallpaper that is loose or ripped before painting. These are signs that the paper is failing, and by painting over it, you’ll be investing money and effort into a project that will not last.

  • When to paint over wallpaper

You should avoid stripping your paper if you know that the underlying drywall and plaster are weak. This way, they will remain intact, reducing the risk of future damage.

Furthermore, if you live in an old home, there is a high chance that the walls have several layers of wallpaper. If that is the case, skip the stripping because removing several layers of paper will damage the walls.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use to Paint Over Wallpaper?

You can use any kind of paint as long as you use shellac or an oil-based primer to seal your wallpaper before painting.

If you don’t have the proper primer, I advise you to use oil-based paint to color your wall covering. Water-based paint will easily soak through the wallpaper and weaken the adhesive. Consequently, your wallpaper will start forming bubbles or lifting at the seams, giving you extra repair work to do later on.

Even though you have the option of painting directly over wallpaper with oil-based paint, I advise against it. Applying the correct primer on the paper before painting is best to ensure the color adheres properly and stays on for longer. 

What Primer Do You Need to Paint Over Wallpaper Border?

Oil-based and shellac primers are the best products to seal your wallpaper border before painting. They create the perfect surface for all kinds of paint to adhere to, ensuring a perfect finish for your job.

Additionally, these primers form a secure border between your wallpaper border and paint. This way, any loose colors on your wallpaper border will not bleed into whichever kind of paint you choose to apply.

Latex primers, on the other hand, will seep through your wallpaper instead of sealing the surface. And since most wallpaper adhesives are water-based, the water in latex primers will reactivate the glue resulting in unwanted bubbling and peeling on the wallpaper.

How Do You Hide Wallpaper Seams Before Painting?

It is good practice to hide wallpaper seams before painting to avoid problems during or after the job.

So, if you want to produce a smooth finish on your job, you’ll have to “float” the seams of your wallpaper using a drywall joint compound.

First, apply a light coating of joint compound on the seams, then carefully wet it with a sponge until it becomes more pliable. Next, use a wide putty knife to smooth the compound, making it flat on the surface.

Make sure you brush out the ends of the joint compound to create an even surface, then allow it to dry properly. Once the joint compound dries completely, sand down any raised spots using fine-grit sandpaper, then apply an oil-based primer before painting.

How Do I Prepare Wallpaper for Painting?

Before starting the process, use painter’s tape to block off baseboards, corners, and other areas that you don’t want to come in contact with the paint. Use caulk to fill in the top and bottom spaces where the wallpaper and the wall meet to reduce the risk of wallpaper peeling during the job. Once the caulk dries completely, you can begin the job.

Step 1

Begin with cleaning the wallpaper because paints and primers only adhere well to clean surfaces. To prepare properly, check out the steps below:

  • First, protect yourself properly since you’ll be working with chemicals to clean your wallpaper. Wear a ventilator, safety goggles, and thick gloves, then open all doors and windows to keep the space ventilated.
  •  Clean the surface with Trisodium Phosphate. TSP is a cleaning agent that effectively removes oils and dirt from wallpaper, creating a clean surface to paint on. Dilute ½ a cup of TSP with two gallons of water. Soak a soft sponge or a paintbrush in the solution, then wipe down your wallpaper carefully.
  • Let the TSP dry completely before proceeding with the next steps. Remember, the drying time will vary depending on the temperature of your room and the amount of TSP solution you used to clean the paper. So, it would be best to leave the wallpaper to cure for at least 24 hours to ensure no wet spots remain.
  • Once the wallpaper dries completely, use a clean wet rag to wipe away all traces of TSP. Ensure that the rag is wet but not soaking because too much water will damage the wallpaper. Let the paper dry before moving to the next step.

 Step 2

Next, cover all the seams and repair any damages to the wallpaper so that they do not stick out when your paint dries. To do this, follow the procedure below.

  • Using a drywall knife, apply a thin layer of joint compound over the seams of your wallpaper. Allow the compound to dry properly, then sand it down lightly to level the surface. If your paper is peeling at the seams, use wallpaper glue to hold it in place, let it dry, then apply the joint compound.
  • Scan for any holes and tears on the wallpaper, then fill them up with a layer of spackle. Let the spackle dry well before sanding it down.

For severe rips and punctures, you will have to cut out the damaged part, fix the drywall beneath if needed then install a wallpaper patch. You can either use a remnant wallpaper or buy a tiny sample that closely matches your existing wall covering.

  • Begin by taping the new wallpaper patch over the open area with its patterns aligned as close as possible to the paper on the wall. Once the patch is in place, use a razor or a straightedge blade to cut through both layers of paper cutting through each corner.
  • Next, remove the patch, set it aside, and carefully peel the damaged wallpaper section off the wall. If you see any felt backing on the wall, wipe it off with a warm, damp sponge. Patch any dents in the wall with a non-shrinking vinyl spackle before attaching the new patch.
  • Once the spackle has dried completely, apply the wallpaper paste to the new patch, then press it against the wall. Use your fingers to adjust the wallpaper and align the patterns properly. Once the patch is in place, smooth out the area with a damp sponge, then wipe off any excess paste. Let the new patch set for at least 24 hours before proceeding to avoid lifting and bubbling.

Use a clean rug to clean all dirt and sanding dust. Leaving any dust or debris on your wallpaper will harm the final look of your paint job.

Step 3

Finally, apply primer and sealer to prevent your wallpaper from peeling and create a surface that the color will stick easily. I recommend using an oil-based combination primer/sealer to provide extra protection for your wallpaper. To apply the primer, follow the steps below.

  • Using a paint roller, apply a coat of primer just like you would apply paint. Then, use a paintbrush to ensure that the primer gets into all the corners and hard-to-reach spaces.
  • Give the primer enough time to dry for the perfect finish. The drying time will vary depending on the primer you use. So, check for the appropriate dry time on the package of your product.
  • Once the primer dries completely, you can paint your wallpaper.

How Do You Fix Wallpaper Seams After Painting?

Sometimes, even after following all the preparation steps above, the seams of your wallpaper may start curling and showing after the paint cures.  

  • Start by cutting along the visible seams, then clean out the raised bits of paint and paper.
  • Coat the open area with an oil-based primer that seals porous surfaces.
  • After the primer dries, use a drywall joint compound to fill the recess you made. Use a 4-inch drywall joint knife to apply the drywall mud, then smooth out the patch to level it with the wallpaper next to it. Drywall mud often shrinks as it dries so, once it dries, top it off with a new layer, then smooth out the edges to avoid creating ridges. Once the second layer dries, check if the surface is level with the paper on either side before proceeding. Add more layers of drywall mud if needed.
  • Once the compound dries up, sand it down lightly to make it level with the adjoining wallpapers, then prime the patch with a sealer for porous surfaces. Finally, you can repaint.

So, why do you need to focus on when and where to apply the sealing primers?

Wallpaper glues often soften when exposed to moisture, and drywall mud contains a lot of moisture. Hence, sealing the underlying surface before applying the joint compound will keep the moisture from seeping under the adjoining wallpaper and loosening the underlying adhesive.

Priming again on top of the drywall patch will keep it from being more porous than the painted wallpaper around. If the porosity of your surface varies, your paint will dry unevenly, leaving you with a splotchy paint job.

Note: Not all primers seal out water, so ensure you use a product specifically made to seal porous surfaces.

Why Are My Wallpaper Seams Showing?

There are many reasons why the seams of your wallpaper may be showing. Sometimes just one of them will be enough to cause the seams to show. At other times, it could be a combination of a couple of them leading to an ugly-looking wall. Below are some of the reasons.

  •          Improper Wall Preparation.

It is vital to prepare your wall correctly before laying down wallpaper. Without the appropriate preparation method and products, the wallpaper won’t adhere well, and the seams will start showing in no time.

  •         Insufficient amounts of wallpapering paste

Using very little wallpaper glue when putting up your paper will also cause the seams of the covering to show after some time. Without enough glue, the wallpaper will not stick well to the wall, and it will start showing or even peeling at the seams in no time.

  •          Wrong or weak wallpaper adhesive

Using the correct adhesive is one of the most vital factors when putting up wallpaper. Using the wrong or weak product will have you repairing your wallpaper all the time. Check the information on the label of your wallpaper to ensure that you use the correct product before applying it to your wall.

  •         Improper handling of the seams.

You should pay extra attention to the seams when putting up your wallpaper. The extra attention means ensuring that your wallpaper seams are flush and do not have any gaps between them. You should also ensure that the seams don’t overlap because overlapping seams show the most. Furthermore, always use a conic seam roller at the edges of your wallpaper when pressing it to the wall. 

How Do You Hide Overlapping Wallpaper Seams?

It is best to “butt the seams tightly together before smoothing it down with a seam roller when installing wallpaper. These types of seams hardly show after; hence your wallpaper will always look seamless.

 However, sometimes it is hard to avoid overlapping the seams, especially around corners, to ensure proper wall coverage. These seams often stand out more than seams aligned side by side. Some homeowners don’t mind if the seams show, but others would rather have a seamless wallpaper covering.

I recommend double cutting the overlapping seams in corners to create a smooth finish to your wallpapering job. Follow the procedure below to do it correctly.

  • Use a straightedge and sharp utility blade to cut vertically through the overlapped seam near the corner. 
  • Then, carefully peel back the layer on top and remove the bottom strip. Be careful not to touch the adhesive on the top layer because dirt may stick to it, and it will not reattach properly. 
  • Slowly reattach the top layer of the wallpaper adjacent to the remaining part of the cut lower layer, then smooth the edges properly.
  • Remember to use a conic seam roller to ensure that the seam remains flush with the rest of the paper.

Note: be careful not to cut out a large strip because it will leave a gaping hole between your seams.

Do You Need to Prime Wallpaper Before Painting?

Yes, you do.

The wallpaper surface is extremely porous, which means you need to seal it before applying a coat of paint. Using appropriate combination primer/sealer is best to seal the pores of the wallpaper to prevent the paint from soaking through the material. Once the moisture from paint soaks through your wallpaper, it will loosen the underlying glue causing your paper to strip along with some paint.

Furthermore, applying one or two coats of a primer before adding the color coat will ensure that the coat of paint adheres well and remains beautiful for a long time. 

Can You Sand Down Wallpaper Seams?

Yes, you can.

If the seams of your wallpaper start showing, sanding them down is the easiest way to make the wall surface level again. However, you should not sand the seams directly to avoid causing more damage to the wallpaper.

First, apply a thin layer of drywall mud to the showing seams, let it dry, then sand it down with fine-grit sandpaper to make the patch level with the rest of the wallpaper.

Can You Use Gorilla Glue on Wallpaper?

You can use gorilla glue to put up your wallpaper; however, this adhesive has many shortcomings when it comes to wallpaper.

First, gorilla glue dries too fast. Because of this, you may have a hard time getting your paper on the wall before the adhesive cures. Hence, I recommend using gorilla glue only when reattaching short lengths of lifted seams.

Furthermore, gorilla glue causes an almost permanent adherence between two surfaces. So if you use gorilla glue on your wallpaper, you better not be planning to strip the covering anytime soon. 

Why Is My Wallpaper Bubbling When I Paint It?

As you paint over wallpaper, the moisture in the paint will make the paper wet again. Because of this, the paper will expand, and bubbles will start forming where the adhesion between the wall and the paper is weakest.

Normally, after the paint dries, the wallpaper shrinks then the bubbles disappear without a trace. Air bubbles may also indicate an imperfection such as dirt or holes on the underlying wall surface. So, if you still see the bubbles even after the paint cures, follow the following steps to get rid of them.

You’ll need:

  • Syringe
  • Razorblade/Utility knife
  • Seam roller
  • Wallpaper glue
  • Tweezers

Use a utility knife or razor blade to make a small incision on the bubble. Ensure that the slit is as small as possible so that it won’t be seen after you’re done with the repair.

Press down gently on the bubble to get all the air out, then use a pair of tweezers to remove any dirt inside the bubble

Fill the syringe will wallpaper glue and insert it into the incision. Squirt a little glue into the bubble, then press down lightly with a roller.

Finally, wipe off excess glue with a damp sponge. If you allow the glue to dry, it will leave a noticeable shiny finish.


Wallpaper borders are easy to apply and can stay on for years in good conditions. However, once they become old and faded, they make your space look boring. Homeowners looking to revitalize the look of their living spaces often ask the question…

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper Border?

Yes, you can paint over the wallpaper border, provided you hide the seams and follow all the necessary wallpaper preparation steps before applying the color. Use an oil-based combination primer/sealer to seal the paper before applying the paint for a seamless finish.