Bathrooms, Interior Design, Painting

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper in a Bathroom? Let’s Find Out

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There was a time when I grew tired of the wallpaper in my bathroom and felt like it’s time to go for a different look. I thought of getting it painted, but can you paint over wallpaper in a bathroom? Let’s find out.

Here’s what I discovered upon painting my bathroom wallpaper:

You can paint over wallpaper in a bathroom as long as you first clean and smoothen it. It’s possible to change the look and feel without needing to peel off all the wallpaper. Wallpaper won’t stand in your way when it’s time for a much-needed bathroom makeover.

When you plan to do a home makeover, it’s essential to know how to paint over wallpaper in a bathroom. Just be sure the color is something you’d like to see regularly.

Is Painting Over Wallpaper a Good Idea?

As you consider a home makeover, the bathroom is one of the first places you’d want to change. But, what happens if you have wallpaper in the bathroom? Is it a must you remove it before painting?

You can leave the wallpaper as is and paint over it. At times many people prefer removing the wallpaper. But, this can easily damage your walls and leave you with patches.

So, the best idea is to learn how to paint over wallpaper, but there might be places where you have to remove it. For instance, if there’s any hanging off the wall. After that, all you need is a fresh coat of paint to transform the space.

However, you should note that not all wallpaper fits this strategy. Therefore, be cautious when it’s time for the bathroom makeover. Some wallpaper is beyond repair, and you should remove it. If you notice the wallpaper peeling in many places and looking old, it’s better to remove all of it.

Also, it’s not ideal painting over fabric wallpaper. Fabric wallpaper is porous, which means you’ll need to use lots of primer and paint. In addition, the fabric absorbs the paint in large amounts, which causes inadequate wall coverage.

You need to keep reapplying the paint multiple times for the wallpaper to look excellent. That can quickly become an expensive makeover. But that doesn’t mean you can’t paint over it. Just be ready to use much more paint than you had planned for.

Tearing wallpaper from the wall seems the best solution, but that can actually cause damage to the drywall. Fixing the drywall adds to the costs of the bathroom upgrade.

Therefore, learning how to paint over wallpaper in a bathroom is the right step to take. The good news is you can follow the step-by-step guide below and transform the entire space. First, start by preparing the wallpaper for painting. 

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How To Prepare Wallpaper For Painting

Every paint job starts the same way. You must prepare the surface for painting by doing several things. The same applies when learning how to paint over wallpaper in a bathroom.


Is the bathroom wallpaper clean? Remember, paint covers clean surfaces better than dirty ones. So start by checking the type of wallpaper you have in the bathroom. While vinyl wallpaper is easy to clean, it takes more time to get the dirt off fabric designs. 

For the cleaning process, mix some liquid detergent in warm water and get a clean cloth. Use clear detergent that won’t stain your wallpaper. Dip the fabric in the water solution, then wring it before wiping the wallpaper clean. 

Alternatively, you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove all the dust and dirt from the bathroom wallpaper. Also, check parts with stains and remove them before you can begin painting over the bathroom wallpaper.

Smooth Out the Wallpaper

Once the bathroom wallpaper is nice and clean, the next step is to smoothen it. Check if there are any parts of the wallpaper sticking out or torn. If you see them, get some glue and stick them down. 

Painting over a surface that’s not smooth is harder. So it’s better to spend some time fixing the rough places on the bathroom wallpaper before you can paint over it. 

Once you fix the spots, give the wallpaper time to dry off, then proceed with the bathroom makeover. It’s essential to apply some primer on top of the wallpaper before the coat of paint.

How Do You Paint a Bathroom Wallpaper?

Below are the steps to take when painting the bathroom wallpaper. These steps follow after completing the preparation process. But, before you start, you need several tools like:

  • Clothes with long sleeves
  • Painters tape
  • Gloves
  • Eye protective wear
  • Oil-based primer
  • Mask
  • Brushes
  • Roller
  • Paint 
  • Spirits

Step 1: Apply the Primer

The best way to begin painting over wallpaper in a bathroom is by applying a layer of oil-based primer. Primer comes with numerous benefits, which is why you must use some on the surface before applying paint. 

Some of the reasons why you need a primer on the wallpaper are:

Seal Pores and Small Patches On the Wallpaper

It’s better to cover any small spaces like pores and patches on the wallpaper before coating it with paint. That way, you end up with smooth and even coverage. 

Cover Repairs

Part of the preparation process before painting the wallpaper includes mending places with torn or ripped wallpaper. Mending can create some imperfections which are easier to cover with a primer. 

Support the Paint

Primers have numerous benefits, including providing support for the paint. It’s easier for the paint to stick to the wallpaper if it has a coat of primer on it. 

Cover Odors and Stains

Sometimes cleaning is enough to get the bathroom wallpaper ready for painting. But what happens when some odors and stains can’t seem to get off? The easiest way to cover them up is using a top-quality primer coat. 

Neutralize the Wallpaper Color

Wallpapers have numerous colors and patterns. At times it’s hard getting the actual paint color on such diverse surfaces. Therefore, it’s better to start with a primer coat to change the wallpaper color to neutral. Doing so makes the new bathroom color pop. 

Use Less Paint

Once you have a neutral wall color in the bathroom, you end up using less paint for the entire space. 

Applying primer is a simple process. All you need is the oil-based primer and a roller. Dress appropriately for the task before you can start applying it to the wallpaper.

Step 2: Apply the Coats of Paint

By this time, you must have selected the paint you want to use on the wallpaper. If not, get some paint books and start choosing as the primer dries. It’s better to wait for the primer to dry before applying fresh coats of paint on the neutral wallpaper. 

Choosing a paint color should work with the theme you want in the bathroom. You can choose to have one, two, or more colors if you wish. Just be sure to purchase enough to prevent running out while painting. Each coat of paint should follow each other while ensuring there’s ample drying time. 

Dress Right

The most crucial part of painting over wallpaper in a bathroom is appropriate clothing. Every aspect of your body comes into consideration. Starting with the head, you need to protect your hair from the paint.

Cover your head with a hat or cloth. Next, grab some glasses to protect your eyes from splutters. Paint is toxic and can harm your eyesight if you work on the wallpaper without eye protection. 

Next, wear comfy clothes or a coverall that prevents the paint from reaching your body. The clothes you choose need to be work clothes that you don’t mind getting paint all over. Also, dress in a pair of gloves to protect your fingers and nails. 

Then wear closed shoes. Avoid painting without shoes or with open ones. Paint will go everywhere while working from wall to wall. So covering your toes and also protecting your feet is the right call.

Paint the Wallpaper

  1. Mix the paint

Painting over the wallpaper requires ample time since you have to allow each coat of paint to dry. Make sure you mix the paint well using an electric paint mixer to get a better consistency. Also, to get the right color. 

While some paint stores can mix it for you, make sure you remix it when you get home. That way, you can have a smoother finishing and coverage on the wallpaper.

  1. Pour paint in a small tub or bucket

Start the painting process by pouring some paint on a small tub or bucket to prevent spillage and sloshing, which can turn out disastrous. You want a better workspace rather than having paint everywhere that you have to clean up later on.

  1. Dip the paintbrush

Once you dip the paintbrush on your paint, remove all the excess before applying it to the wallpaper. This is a crucial step as you master how to paint over wallpaper in a bathroom. 

Removing the excess paint gives you a smoother texture, and the paint can dry faster before you apply another coat. 

Apply the paint in strokes starting from the top to the bottom of the bathroom wallpaper. Take time to get more paint on the brush, plus you won’t end up with paint clamps on the wallpaper.

  1. Apply the initial coat of paint

Paint the outer edges of the bathroom wallpaper first. This creates a trim line that guides the whole process. It’s easier to use a small brush to access the wall edges and do a neat job. Once you paint the edges, you can take the roller and work on the mid-section. 

There’s a technique for working with a roller when painting the bathroom wallpaper. Follow an ‘M’ or a ‘W’ pattern working from top to bottom. Repeat each part several times until it has good coverage of paint before moving on. 

For higher spots in the bathroom, get a roller handle. It makes the roller steadier and can help you paint high places without straining. Also, you can work from a distance to prevent spillage. But, make sure you only get the necessary amount of paint on the wallpaper without overdoing it. 

  • Add more coats of paint

Add more coats after the initial application. How to paint over wallpaper in a bathroom requires precision to get it right. One coat of paint isn’t enough, even with an undercoat primer. But that doesn’t mean overdoing it. 

Just be sure to give the paint ample time to dry before adding another coat. Wait for a minimum of 3 hours before you add a new layer. Then, repaint the entire wall depending on the number of coats you need to prevent seams from forming. 

  • Inspect the wall

Inspect the wall the next day. After you finish painting the wallpaper, inspect the wall to see any places you need to fix it. Problem areas tend to be more visible after the paint has had about 48 hours to dry. 

Be careful not to touch the paint as it dries. It’s better to close the bathroom door and keep everyone out of it. After two days, check the paint and mend all problem areas. If you get it right, you won’t have to redo it. 

Therefore, follow the steps and make sure you work with the right paint and tools. The results will be excellent and transform your bathroom. 


As you ponder more about how to paint over wallpaper in a bathroom, be ready to do some work. The entire process calls for particular skills so that you can have the best outcome. It’s possible to paint over wallpaper, but it depends on the type you have. 

Vinyl wallpaper is simpler to paint over, but you must clean it before you can begin. Cleaning also goes hand in hand with mending problem areas. Once you finish that, apply primer paint to neutralize the wallpaper color. 

When you have a neutral wallpaper color in the bathroom, it’s time to fetch the paint mixture and get to work. 


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.