Ultimate Guide To Painting Over Textured Wallpaper

During the 80s and 90s, many new builds in the UK were fitted with textured wallpaper. If you’ve just moved to one of these properties where textured wallpaper is present, you might be wondering if it’s possible to paint over it.

The aim of this article is to provide you with guidance around painting over textured wallpaper as well as giving advice on whether you should paint it or whether you would be better off simply removing it.

Can You Paint Over Textured Wallpaper?

Painting over textured wallpaper is easily doable. In fact, many companies manufacture textured wallpaper to be paintable in the expectation that they eventually will be painted.

Here’s an example of a textured wallpaper we painted over with grey emulsion.

Should You Paint Over Textured Wallpaper?

Whether you paint your textured wallpaper or not is purely down to personal choice. You’ll need to bear in mind that even the flattest emulsions will not conceal the texture and patterns, however.

Interior walls in current newbuilds are typically made up of cheap plasterboard that is then painted to a matt emulsion.

Whilst you may think that ‘cheap’ correlates with ‘tacky’, this has been proven to be anything but the case. Many homeowners prefer the flat and simple look so it may be worth removing the textured wallpaper, making good the surface underneath and then painting your walls instead.

You also need to bear in mind that your wallpaper needs to be primed with an oil-based primer first which can make your job more expensive as well as expose your home to volatile organic compounds (or VOCs).

What Primer Should You Use?

Like most things when it comes to painting, being specific will make all the difference. Whilst universal primers will likely do the job, you will open yourself up to potential issues further down the line. With that being said, Zinsser’s 3-in-1 wallpaper cover-up paint would be my go-to for this type of job.

The viscosity of the paint is perfect for covering up textured wallpaper and should give you a smooth substrate to paint on. Furthermore, the off-white colour makes it much easier to achieve your desired colour finish when painting over it with your chosen emulsion.

The only issue with this primer is that it’s solvent-based but as long as you take the usual necessary precautions (i.e. keeping the area ventilated) you won’t have any problems.

You can purchase online or head to your nearest B&Q.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use On Textured Wallpaper?

As long as you’ve primed your textured wallpaper and have a smooth surface to paint over, any emulsion will do! Obviously, some emulsions are better than others and for a longer-lasting, scratch-resistant finish we’d always recommend spending a couple of quid extra on high-quality paint.

Think the likes of Dulux Diamond Matt and Johnstone’s Covaplus. Sure, they’re more expensive per litre than retail paint but I promise you they will go much further due to their unbeatable coverage.

How To Paint Textured Wallpaper

Painting textured wallpaper isn’t too dissimilar to painting plasterboard but we do have some key advice when it comes to the tools you use which will make all the difference.

  1. Make sure the room you’re painting in is well-ventilated and lay down appropriate dust sheets to avoid getting paint on the floor.
  2. Apply a coat of primer. The primer should be solvent-based as this won’t penetrate the paper and cause it to expand. Furthermore, it will give the textured wallpaper a waterproof membrane to protect the wallpaper from the rest of the paint system.
  3. Allow the primer to fully dry.
  4. Using a medium pile roller, apply your topcoats. We recommend using a medium pile roller as they have great paint-carrying capacity but crucially, work well on semi-rough surfaces such as textured wallpaper.