Preparing Walls for Paint After Removing Wall Paper

Updated April 12, 2017

There are many ways homeowners can decorate the interior walls of their houses. Applying paint and wallpaper are two of these. Paint is applied in liquid form, usually by rolling it, and then allowed to dry. Wallpaper, however, is a sheet of decorative paper applied to the wall with an adhesive paste. When you wish to switch from one to the other, there are some maintenance steps that need to occur. In the case of removing wallpaper to add paint, the walls need to be prepped.

Wash the wall after wallpaper is removed with a tough-bristled scrub brush and detergent. Abrasive detergents will help to remove remaining pieces of wallpaper that may be stuck to the wall.

Rinse the wall with clean water and old, clean rags. Allow it to dry for 24 hours.

Scrape off any remaining wallpaper or paint from previous decorating jobs with a paint scraper. Using too much force will damage the wall, especially when dealing with softer building materials, so use care.

Repair any holes or cracks in the wall. Wood filler or putty is best used depending on the type of building materials, and they can be found at any local hardware store. Use a putty knife in either case to even out the crack's repair with the wall surface.

Sand out any rough or uneven areas on the wall. Always sand down repair areas. Use a fine sand grain to avoid making large sandpaper marks in the wall. Use a sander if the rough areas are large, and sanding by hand is too labour intensive.

Clean the wall one more time with a degreasing soap such as dish soap. Rinse with clean water and old clean rags. Let dry for a full 24 hours.

Apply a coat of primer to the wall before adding coloured paint to avoid any past paint job from showing through.


Mold can often grow on walls in the presence of water from floods, leaky pipes or humidity. If you discover mould, evacuate the room immediately. Call in an expert to assess mould dangers and removal options. Do not proceed until the mould situation is handled.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Paint scraper
  • Wood filler
  • Wall putty
  • Putty knife
  • Kitchen soap
  • Rubber gloves
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About the Author

Bailey Richert is a 2010 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a dual bachelor's degree in environmental engineering and hydrogeology, as well as a master's degree in systems engineering. After several years in the environmental consulting industry, she is now attending MIT for graduate school. An accomplished traveler, she has visited 23 countries and published her first book about international travel in 2014.