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How to Paint Paintable Wallpaper

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Learn how to paint paintable wallpaper. Use my simple tricks for painting textured wallpaper to save time.

a roller painting a gray wall aqua

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I’m writing this post in case it helps anyone else who has paintable wallpaper in their home. My home is covered in paintable wallpaper, and I have spent weeks of my life removing it (and only have five rooms to show it).

To be clear, I don’t think normal wallpaper should be painted. Do it right and remove the wallpaper. I’m referring to paintable wallpaper, which is meant to be painted.

Paintable wallpaper is typically textured. Some places call it Anaglypta, but we call it paintable wallpaper here in the US.

I’ve been removing the wallpaper in the rest of the house, but I’m desperate for a change in my bedroom.

I’ve spent a lot of time in bed after recovering from surgery, and let me tell you, waking up to gray walls is a bummer when you feel horrible.

gray textured wallpaper
wallpaper BEFORE

I’m feeling a little better now, so I painted my walls. I don’t have “strip the wallpaper, repair the walls, and paint” energy yet. I barely have “paint the walls” energy.

So, I did what I never thought I would. I painted the wallpapered walls.

If you, too, have paintable wallpaper, you’re probably looking for permission more than a “how-to.” This is your permission. Do it.

You won’t regret it, and you can’t make it worse. It’s already bad, probably. (Maybe yours is pretty? Send me photos.)

If your wallpaper is still in good shape and not peeling from the walls, it can be painted.

By the way, I painted my walls SW Waterscape a lovely shade of aqua.

Getting a paint sample is always a good idea when painting a room. I love these paint sample stickers, which allow me to test colors without the mess.

Tips for Painting Paintable Wallpaper

Painting was similar to painting normal drywall walls, but I learned a few things while I worked. Here are some tips for painting paintable wallpaper.

Use a 1/2″ Nap Roller Cover for Heavily Textured Wallpaper

This is probably the most important tip I have. A thick 1/2″ roller cover will cover the texture so much better! I didn’t think it would make such a difference, but it really does work better on textured walls.

roller painting wall aqua

If you use a thinner roller cover, you’ll have to reload the roller a million times. And you may need more coats of paint to get full coverage.

I still needed two coats, but the first coat looked decent but splotchy.

wall being painted

Clean the Walls First

Textured wallpaper is a dust magnet, so I cleaned it with a microfiber cloth.

Pay attention to baseboards and where the walls meet the ceiling. Vacuum any cobwebs away.

Use an Eggshell or Flat Sheen

Shiny paints pick up every perfection, so a flatter paint sheen can minimize the texture and any imperfections in the wallpaper.

Flat paints also require fewer coats of paint, so that’s always a bonus.

Consider Using Darker Colors

Color choice is very personal, so I have a few reasons for this.

Darker paint colors will minimize the texture, which is great if it’s not your favorite.

Darker colors can also help a feminine pattern feel a little less twee. I painted my room aqua, one of my absolute favorite colors, and it feels a bit shabby chic now.

It Can Be Smelly

Maybe this is just my house, but painting the old wallpaper seems to have released some old smells. My home is 100 years old, which might be a contributing factor. My room smells like smoke now, but I’m very sensitive to smells.

Be prepared to open the windows for a few days. (It lasted about 2 weeks.)

Paint in the Daytime if Possible

This is always a painting tip, but it’s really important with paintable wallpaper. Adequate light allows you to see how well the paint covers the walls accurately.

wall getting painted in progress

You don’t want to miss spots and need a touch-up later on.

bedroom with aqua walls and colorful bedding
AFTER | There’s still so much to do here, but it looks much better!

It took about half a day to banish the sad gray walls and make my room a happier place to wake up. I highly recommend this if you’re desperate for a change, too.

That said, I will continue removing the wallpaper in the rest of the house before painting. The dining room is next on the agenda.

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collage of roller with paint on wall and painted wall

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