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Can You Hang New Wallpaper Over Old Wallpaper?

Anyone who has ever stripped a wall understands just what a pain it can be.

Stripping wallpaper can be time-consuming and difficult. You may have found yourself wondering “can I save time and effort by simply papering over my existing wallpaper?”.

While many see hanging new paper over old as a faux pas, we’re here to tell you that, in fact, it can be done. There are, however, a number of things to consider before you make the decision to paper over old wallpaper.


First things first;

Have you repapered before?

If the wall you are considering papering already has more than one layer of wallpaper, definitely stay clear of a third. If, however, the wall only has one existing layer, you may be able to paper over the top depending on the circumstances.

For example;


Consider the condition of your existing wallpaper.

The condition of the wallpaper you are potentially papering over is one of the most important things to consider here. Anything texture or badly applied will mean lumps and bump will show up immediately under your new paper. Your base wallpaper layer needs to be impeccably smooth and clean for you to even have a chance at success.


Think carefully about the colours of both wallpapers

The colour, both of your existing wallpaper and your new wallpaper, is also an important element to consider. If your existing wallpaper is extremely dark or patterned, or if your new wallpaper is light, some colour may bleed through and cause problems.

If you are papering over existing wallpaper, you need to ensure your new wallpaper is darker than the base layer; for example, a dark patterned wallpaper over the top of a cream or white base. In some instances, you could even paint over your existing wallpaper in order to create a light base for your new paper to sit on top of.


Assess the quality of your new wallpaper

If your new wallpaper is thick or textured, you can use this to your benefit. Thick and textured wallpapers will work to cover imperfections, making them a better choice if papering over existing wallpaper.


Check to see if your existing wallpaper is vinyl-coated

If your existing wallpaper has a vinyl coating, it will be near impossible to paper over the top of without additional steps. Vinyl wallpaper is widely used for its water-resistant properties, so is extremely difficult to paper over successfully as adhesives will not stick.

If you aren’t sure whether your wallpaper is vinyl-coated or not, you can perform a simple test with a damp sponge. Wet a small area of your wall, and if the water is absorbed and darkens across the surface then your wallpaper is not vinyl-coated. If the water sits at all on the surface then your wallpaper has a coating. In these instances, you will need to score the wallpaper before papering over it.


How to wallpaper over existing paper

If you have considered all these steps and are confident that your wall is suitable to be papered over, there are a number of additional steps you can take to encourage the best possible results:

  • Ensure the wall is completely clear of any imperfections. Remove nails, fill in holes and sand down the wall to make sure you have a perfectly flat surface to paper over.
  • Make sure your existing wallpaper is firmly attached to the wall. If any sections are beginning to peel be sure to restick them, or you run the risk of the new layer of wallpaper also peeling away.
  • Clean your walls. Ensure the wallpaper is completely free of dirt and dust before you paper on top of it.
  • After making sure your walls are completely dry, apply a wallpaper primer. Then, you’re good to go!


If you’re looking to makeover your home, be sure to explore the extensive wallpaper collection at I Want Wallpaper. From geometric wallpapers to wood effect wallpapers, you’re sure to discover the perfect option to take any room in the house to the next level.