Old wallpaper can be hassle to deal with if you're remodelling an older home. That is especially true if more than one layer is involved. The age and type of wallpaper also can play a part in how hard it is to remove. There are times when taking down old wallpaper simply isn’t an option. The burden is on the homeowner to find a way around the problem.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Wallpaper and hanging kit
- Plaster application tool
- Bead board or wainscoting
- Decorative tins
- Nails or screws
- Electric screwdriver
- Mirror tiles
- Tile caulk
- Caulking gun
The first option is to paint over the old wallpaper. If the paper isn't peeling off the wall and has no rips, tears or gaps, it may be possible to paint over it. But prime the wall before you paint. Painting over wallpaper can be a problem if it is dirty, greasy or has a bright or prominent pattern.
You can also put new wallpaper over the old. This isn’t recommended if there are already several layers on the wall. Apply a wallpaper primer first, because old paper tends to be greasy and dirty. New wallpaper paste won't adhere well under such conditions. Consider using one of the new textured wallpapers that can be painted in the future.
Try a speciality painting technique, such as sponging, over painted wallpaper. If regular paint won't cover the old paper, a speciality treatment might do the trick. Such treatments generally involve applying several layers of paint on top of the base colour. Sponging can hide or mask a wallpaper that has bright colours or a prominent pattern.
Try applying Venetian plaster. The wallpaper must be intact. Put a paint primer and base coat on the walls before plastering. This prevents the old wallpaper from showing through. Also try colouring the plaster before you apply it to cover any bleeding through of the wallpaper pattern.
Another idea is to put panelling over the wallpaper. Panelling is more versatile than it used to be. Pattern, print and solid panelling is available at home-improvement stores.
Apply bead board or wainscoting to cover old wallpaper. Both of these faux applications usually come in white, but they can be painted any colour.
Put decorative tin over the wallpaper. The tin usually comes in 12-inch and 24-inch squares. The squares also come in faux copper, bronze, brass, silver, pewter and brushed gold. Most have a three-dimensional pattern that adds texture to a wall.
Try covering the wallpaper with fabric. This option may only last a short time, even when it is stain-resistant. Fabric tends to stretch, leaving bulges or wrinkles. It can also collect dust, grime and stains easily.
Attach a speciality wall covering like cork or chalkboard. Chalkboard can be fun in a child’s room or a kitchen, but you might not want it in your living room.
Apply mirror tiles over the old wallpaper. Make sure the paper is clean before attempting this technique or the tiles' glue won't adhere.
Tile over the top of the old wallpaper. This technique is great for bathrooms and kitchens, but may not be right for other rooms. Be sure the wall surface is as clean as possible or the tile may not stick.
Tips and warnings
- It may take several coats of primer and paint if you apply a lighter colour over dark wallpaper. Consider adding a chair rail. Choose fabrics that are stain-resistant and apply additional coatings to extend their life.
- Use caution with every type of paint, plaster or glue. Noxious fumes can be a problem if the room isn't ventilated.
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