How to Water Proof Wall Paper

Updated February 21, 2017

Wallpaper in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens needs to be protected against moisture. Wet or damp wallpaper can peel away from the wall and serve as a breeding ground for mould. Protecting your wallpaper with a clear, waterproof varnish repels water, finger marks, stains and scuffs. Brush water-based varnish onto wallpaper as you would regular paint. It usually requires two or three coats.

Clean the walls thoroughly, using a soft sponge and soapy water. Allow walls to dry before varnishing.

Stir the varnish to make sure it is mixed well.

Apply one even, thin coat of varnish onto the wallpaper. Use a high-quality brush to avoid drag marks and splodging.

Apply two to three coats, allowing four hours of drying time between coats. The number of coats will depend on the thickness of application and the wallpaper's texture.


Use thin coats, especially when varnishing over dark colours. Thick coats of varnish can make dark colours appear milky. Use a paint brush. Rollers are not well suited for applying varnish to wallpaper.


As with all acrylic wall paints, work in a well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Soapy water
  • Waterproof, acrylic varnish (see resources)
  • Stirring stick
  • High quality brush
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About the Author

Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.