From wallpaper to painting: a wall renovation guide


  • Part I: remove the wallpaper
    • Why you shouldn’t paint over old wallpaper
    • Preparing for the process
    • Removing wallpaper: the old fashioned way
    • Removing wallpaper: using a solution
    • Removing wallpaper: perforation and steamer
  • Part II: paint
    • Eliminate irregularities
    • Apply paint

Tired of old wallpaper and can’t wait to refresh the interior with a new color, but you don’t know how to approach this difficult task? We will tell you how to remove old coatings (and everything that is found under them), prepare the wall and paint it correctly. It’s not so scary: even beginners can cope with a complete makeover of a room in one weekend.

Part I: remove the wallpaper


What is required

  • Film;
  • Mask or respirator;
  • Putty knife;
  • Cord brush;
  • Paint brushes;
  • Wallpaper steamer;
  • Ladder;
  • Bucket and sponge;
  • Wallpaper remover;
  • Putty.


Why you shouldn’t paint over old wallpaper

In some cases, this option seems to be the only possible one, but it is usually temporary. For example, you bought an apartment, set a renovation date, but it will not be tomorrow, and the idea of ​​living “in a flower” is perceived as aesthetically unacceptable. Remember: in the future, it will take much more effort to remove the wallpaper primed in this way: when paint is applied, they become waterproof, and you will need special equipment to work with them. Which ones, we will tell below.


If there is no question of spontaneous coloring of the wallpaper over the picture, then the wallpaper can be safely removed. Firstly, this will make the surface of the wall smoother and easier to accept a new coating, be it putty, primer, plaster or paint itself. Secondly, this is the only way to remove the “cultural layer”, which will certainly accumulate under the wallpaper: dust, whitewash, fine fractions of cement, mold and other unpleasant formations.

Preparing for the process

We start with preparatory work: we cover the surrounding area with a protective film. We pay special attention to the zone of sockets and switches, close the wiring (just in case, you can turn off all the “machines” on the dashboard). We wrap furniture and lamps with foil, if they are not removed. We put on a respirator or mask, gloves and work clothes. Do not have any illusions about your accuracy: repair compounds have a completely different outlook on things.


Removing wallpaper: the old fashioned way

If the wallpaper is really old, paper and in places move away from the wall, you can try to gently “pick up” them with a spatula: sometimes old coatings are easily removed. It’s another matter if the wall has been glued layer by layer for decades. In this case, there is a risk that the spatula will either not remove the wallpaper at all, or remove it from the sections of the wall. Therefore, to the question: “Is it possible to remove the wallpaper from the wall with your own hands?” the answer will be: “Yes, you can, but it’s better not to risk it.”


Removing wallpaper: using a solution

Wallpaper stripper is usually mixed with an alkali or solvent mixture. The composition exists in the form of a liquid or powder. When treating walls with such a tool, it is imperative to use a mask, since the liquid can be corrosive. Please note that heavy textured wallpaper or wallpaper applied in several layers usually requires several treatments, and one bottle may not be enough.

An analogue of such a solution is sometimes made at home: the composition is based on vinegar, water and washing powder. However, given the relatively low cost of factory mortars, this is hardly worth the effort. Moreover, washing powder is also a chemical composition.


Before applying the solution in the wallpaper, you need to make cuts through which the liquid will interact with the wall, then apply the product and wait. After the wallpaper can be removed with a spatula, rubbed with a hard brush or sandpaper. If this leaves potholes or cracks on the wall, get ready to putty them on top.

The solution works great if the wallpaper is thin. If we are talking about several layers of paper, about painted or just thick textured coatings, you will have to use other methods.

Removing wallpaper: perforation and steamer

For multi-layer coatings, vinyl, textured wallpaper or painted wallpaper, you will need aids: a needle roller or a stationery knife, as well as a steamer. An average steamer will cost 3-4 thousand rubles, a standard roller costs around 500 rubles.


A perforating (aka needle) roller is sold in ordinary building materials stores. Its purpose is to make holes in the surface of the wallpaper in order to facilitate the access of solutions and steam to the lower layers (if the wallpaper is vinyl) or to the adhesive composition. Sometimes the roller is replaced with a clerical knife, but this is not very convenient and, most likely, a more thorough puttying will be required before painting.

A steamer is a kind of “iron” for wallpaper, more precisely, for the glue underneath. The device works in the same way as a large amount of boiling water poured onto the wall at once: wallpaper glue simply does not withstand the effects of steam and loses its structure.


Stages of work

  • We go through the wallpaper with a roller, make holes;

  • We connect the steamer, process the wallpaper with hot steam, starting from the ceiling;

  • We remove the wallpaper with a spatula, remove the remnants of the glue with sandpaper.

Usually everything works out the first time. Vinyl wallpaper is made up of multiple layers, so you may need to spray the wall twice. If there was coated ground paper under the wallpaper, then usually it is relatively easy to separate from the wall.

Part II: paint


What is required

  • Putty knife;

  • Sandpaper;

  • Roller;

  • Brushes;

  • Paper tape;

  • Putty;

  • Primer;

  • Dye.


Eliminate irregularities

Before painting, it is worthwhile to perform two more important procedures: putty the irregularities and treat the wall with a primer. Then the result will be perfect.

How to putty: we buy a putty, with a spatula we fill the unevenness with a mass so that it becomes approximately the same level with the wall, and we rub (grind) it after drying. Grouting can be done with emery.

How to prime: a special liquid primer is purchased, which is applied in one layer to a clean, dry putty wall with a brush. The drying time of the primer depends on the manufacturer.


Apply paint

About what types of paint exist (and at the same time how to paint old furniture), read our special material.

In general, the tips for applying paint to horizontal surfaces are roughly the same. The main thing is to make the necessary preparations: apply paper tape where clear boundaries are required (along the baseboards, if you did not remove them; near the ceiling; around the sockets), select the correct painting tools and calculate the paint volume (consultants of a particular paint company will help you with this : there are special calculators on individual manufacturers’ websites).


Some people use only rollers, some find it more convenient to work on individual areas with a brush. We are guided by experience or simply try on the instrument to the hand. In general, the roller is convenient on large surfaces, the main thing is not to take a lot of paint on the sponge. When painting, it is very important to follow the instructions of the paint manufacturer: if it is written that the paint layer dries for one hour, do not repaint the wall after ten minutes, otherwise streaks and irregularities will appear on the fresh coating.

A still from the film

You can try, however, to paint the walls non-uniformly on purpose – in some interiors it looks like an interesting stylistic technique. Note, however, that the heterogeneity is a decorative effect, not a bad stain. It is better to perform the first layer even, and certainly one should not neglect the puttying and priming of the wall before painting.


And remember: the apartment will smell pretty strong (even if your paint is “almost odorless”), so if you have a studio or one-room apartment, it is better to go to your relatives or friends while drying.