A Few (More) Things About Painting

  • The professionals are painting parts of the house while I do the kid’s rooms. They paint doorways and windows and chair-rail FIRST with no taping. Then walls (with taping). Then baseboard and crown-moulding (with taping). I definitely see the logic in that as it allows for the cutting in at the easiest points (in my opinions) but going from white to color back to white again would KILL ME.
  • I walked in our master bedroom yesterday and the walls were painted there and in my bathroom. I hadn’t even taken “before” photos in there yet! THAT made the investment worth it right there. Just finishing up my day of painting (and cursing and crying) and walking into a different room that looks 10 times better requiring NO effort on my part. Yeah – the money could have bought us furniture but instead? It bought me sanity AND joy. Totally worth it.
  • Trim
  • Several of you ask why we have to paint before we move in. I’ll tell you why. See this fantastic wallpaper trim above? And by “fantastic” I mean “kinda ugly” – it was on our bedroom walls when we bought our current house five years ago. The walls were cream-ish and the trim and door were MAUVE. We ran out of time to re-do it and swore we’d do it after we moved in. Well, we’re doing it now. Because we’re selling it and moving out. If we weren’t going anywhere? It might have been another 5 years before we got around to it. This time? Since we’re hoping this is our Forever Home? We’re doing all rooms first we’re even considering doing in the near future. Because we know that the truth is – once we’re in the house? It will be pushed back for ninety million years.
  • The owner of the business doing our painting told MrZ yesterday that he peaked in the rooms I was painting when he was looking for me and they weren’t “bad at all.” That made me feel very good because I think I’ve made no less than nineteen million mistakes. I’m already planning what to hang where in the playroom to cover up my errros so they wont eat at MrZ’s brain forever. But still – Not bad at all! From a professional! Yay, Me.
  • What are your thoughts on painting over wallpaper. We have some in our upstairs hall where my sewing nook will be. It’s on the walls pretty good so we know we won’t be able to tear it off without damaging the drywall. Have you painting over wallpaper before? What lessons did you learn? Would you do it again or do you wish you had just taken it down and dealt with the damaged drywall later?

I promise I will do a real non-bullet point entry soon. The paint fumes have temporarily muted the part of my brain I used to form cohesive thoughts.

28 thoughts on “A Few (More) Things About Painting”

  1. I have never painted over wallpaper. When we moved in here, two of the bedrooms were covered in the stuff and it was put on incorrectly. It took us 3 full days to remove it all, and then the walls were so damaged we paid the painter extra to fix all the walls. (I can patch the holes but I’m terrible at fixing corners).

    The one thing I’d tell anyone to do is the closets. I was in your situation, not having to move in to the new house right away. I gutted every closet, painted the interiors, added lights if there weren’t any and the installed organizers in all of them. Best time and money I ever spent!

  2. We removed wall paper in our bathroom before painting. There are pros and cons, but in the end I think that was the best decision for us. But a lot of work.

    I think “not bad” from a professional is great!!

  3. Get a scorer (it’s this wheeled little thingy that will put tiny holes in the wallpaper as you run it over the wall) and use it. Then make a mixture of water and Downy and rub it all over the walls a section at a time.

    In theory it should make the glue release and you’ll be able to peel the paper off the walls. The trick is not to pull if the paper is stuck, just wet it more and try again in a minute or two.

  4. I would say DO NOT get the scorer, because if you score too hard, it will put holes in your walls, and you have to repair them anyway.
    We just removed wallpaper that was hung with gorilla snot in two rooms. The easiest thing to do was peel off the facing of the wallpaper, then go back with warm soapy water (i used a spray bottle, Scott used a sponge – both worked fine), a plastic putty knife, and went at the backing. Some of the sheetrock was damamged, but the painters that gave us quotes says that happens with wallpaper hung on walls that weren’t prepped first.
    There are lost of wallpaper removing tips out there. I tried them all….DIF wallpaper remover, vinegar and water, warm soapy water….they all worked the same!! And truly, one isn’t cheaper than the other. But vinegar stinks :-)

    Now on to my question…..what painter are you guys using? We have gotten quotes from two. And they are so far from each other on the prices, we want more qoutes – I actually just want strangers walking thru my house! I totally love that – NOT!

  5. I’d remove the wallpaper. Our first house included a room where the previous owner had painted over wallpaper. When we wanted to change it, the mess was incredible. (In fact, I ended up with a chest X-Ray worthy cough thanks to all of the dust I breathed in while foolishly doing much of the work sans mask. Lesson learned.)

    If this is your forever house, then you may very well want to update that space in five or ten or twenty years, at which point you will KICK yourself for short-cutting today. :)

  6. I would take the wall paper off. It’s better to do it now than to have to try to take it off later with the paint on it, too. We’ve got to take it off both our bathroom walls before we paint and I’ve been putting it off. I was going to use a scorer but now Jonni’s made me nervous.

  7. I actually enjoy painting, but I’m lazy about the prep work so I always end up putting in extra effort to fix things that would have been fine if I’d just taped properly in the beginning.

  8. This is my first comment! My husband is a professional painter. When we bought our present home, the wallpaper in our bedroom was hideous (think Holiday Inn bedspread from the 80′s) and I think fused onto the wall with some unknown scientific method. Anyway, my husband simply spackled and sanded the seams and any tears we made trying to remove it, then painted right over it (primer first!). Honestly, it’s been four years and you’d never know.
    Best of Luck in your new home!

  9. I painted over wallpaper. Take it off! You can see part of the wallpaper texture through the paint Can’t wait to see after photos!

  10. We had chair rail in the breakfast area of our kitchen, and when we pulled it off, it started tearing off paper. We had no clue it was papered before we took the chair rail off because it had been painted over. When we tried to peel more paper off the rest off the walls, it took a lot of the top paper layer off the drywall as well. From what we can tell, thin paper wallpaper was applied to a wall that wasn’t primed or sized, and then when it was painted over (several thick coats to cover the pattern) the paper and paint combo just fused right to the drywall. It was a MESS and we ended up having to do a lot of plaster work to clean it up. So I definitely recommend removing it, because paint might make the situation worse.

    I’d also advise against using the scoring tool. Large sections of our wall have score marks, and when the paint gets those wet, they seem to stick straight out. We had the best luck in the bathroom just peeling the paper off and then cleaning the glue layer off with that blue DIF gel stuff or lots and lots of warm water. I can’t say the DIF worked any better than the hot/warm water method, and the water is cheaper and easier!

  11. Take it off, definitely. Home Depot sells a spray bottle of this stuff called Dif that works amazingly well. We had to use it in our kitchen behind the stove, which was wallpapered and then virtually CEMENTED on with years of heat and grease from the stovetop. (It looked just like you’re imagining right now, I guarantee it).

    Anyway, that stuff worked amazingly well. Try it, you might be happily surprised!

  12. Don’t do it! If you paint over the wallpaper and then the paper starts to peel you’ll regret it…and seeing as your husband is a perfectionist I think it might be better to go through the hassle of peeling off the paper. You can always take the paper off and your painters should be able to do a quick skim coat to cover any imperfections. I grew up in a house with wallpaper and my dad always taught me to remove the old paper first…at all costs.

  13. If it is a small area and the wallpaper has become ONE with the drywall (I had 3 rooms where this was the case – lack of prep before papering is the cause) it is actually easier to take everything to the studs & drywall & tape it out new than to try and remove the paper and repair the damage.

    Painting over wallpaper can work in the short-run..but considering your revelations regarding the paint & paper in your current master bedroom I’d do it for keeps.

  14. My husband is a general contractor…I run the “clean” side of the biz…(office..lol) but when he has remodels w/ wallpaper? He makes me do actual work.

    We have a wallpaper steamer (Home Depot) Way worth the $…I dont need to use removal products, or score the paper. Most of the time (depending on how old the wallpaper is, how bad the glue is) I dont even need to prime the walls after to paint, cause the steam helps clean them.

    Also? If your doing a bathroom its like being in a sauna! My face is gorg!

    fyi…prolly too late for this advice but pull tape off before the paint is completly dry. Alot of people wait at least a day, but it absolutely makes a difference. Sometimes the tape will tug at dry paint and pull it up around trim, then you end up doing touch ups.

    I’m a messy painter. So i take the time to tape everything, AND I use an edger! But way worth the extra time in each room. We have hired my MIL to paint trim because she loves to paint. However, she refused to tape & use drop clothes. Her trim was always perfect, but took soooo long and we paid her by the hour. :(

  15. I agree – DIF and a good scraper will get that off pretty well. DON’T PAINT OVER WALLPAPER. You’ll regret it.

    I know this has to be an exciting process for you – it will be so worth it to have it all done ahead of time.

  16. we have painted over wall paper and it is fine , first use a primer called Kilz , walmart , home depot or lowes will have it and then paint as ususal , the Kilz does have a strong odor while painting so open the windows !

  17. I am an HGTV Junkie. Somewhere in the years that I have invested in watching the network, I learned an amazing trick that a friend of mine recently tried. She said she was shocked. First, Home Depot or Lowes sells this thing called a wall-paper scorer. It’s round and it fits in the palm of your hand and it has tons of tiny razors on the underside that you move in circles all over the wall so that the blades score the paper… no matter how old it is. Then you take a spray bottle, and some diluted liquid fabric softener (google for proper ratio) and you spray it on the wall. Wait a few minutes, and you can EASILY scrape the paper off with a putty knife, giving you a clean wall with no paper. Put a coat of Kilz primer on, and then paint as usual.

    Good luck!

  18. Oh, my word, I may actually have something useful to contribute here. Maybe.

    Our home was built in 1989. Wallpaper everywhere. Wallpaper adhered to UNprimed wallboard. Do you know what that means? That stuff ain’t coming off. Ever. I found this out the hard way–scorers, steamers, magical spray wallpaper adhesive remover…NOTHING worked. In trying, I had damaged our walls so badly that we had to hire a professional to repair our guest bathroom walls, skim coat, and apply new (less hideous) wallpaper.

    So you know what I did in the next room? I painted right on top of that wallpaper. Know what else? It’s perfect. I’ve gone on to paint, faux finish, and texture 3 more rooms over the last 4 years.

    Here are some tips:
    1. First determine if that wallpaper will come off easily. Try to loosen a corner and pull. If it comes off fairly easily, it’ll be fun. Really. Kind of therapeutic.
    2. If it just peels in tiny sections and seems stuck for life, leave it.
    3. Smooth the seams with some joint compound. Sand.
    4. PRIME over the joint compound (Really, it’s important. I learned the hard way. The dry joint compound will just come off onto your latex paint-laden roller if you don’t.)
    5. If you’d like, mix your paint with a little joint compound to thicken it and give it some texture. Use a 5-gallon bucket to mix it. This works especially well with flat paint.
    6. Don’t try that roll-on texture stuff. It’s horrid.
    7. The spray-on texture in a can isn’t bad, though. Just open a window. It’s kind of expensive at about $15 per can.

  19. I would vote for removing the wallpaper. I removed it in two rooms in our house. It wasn’t until the second room that I tried a $20 steamer on the walls. (I was using DIF and a scorer before that, which didn’t work at all.) The steamer took the wallpaper off so easily, sometimes in full sheets! I didn’t have to repair any walls in that room, because it came off so easily. The room with the DIF and scorer was a disaster afterwards, and had to have a lot of spackling.

  20. Lawsie mercy, puh-LEASE remove the wallpaper, do not paint over it. Take your time, remove a square inch per day, I don’t know, but don’t paint over it. It’s worth it, I promise.

  21. Me again :-) I feel like I have lived this wallpaper removal hell for the past 2 months. Oh, wait! I have!!

    I did borrow my mom’s steamer, and it worked GREAT!! It’s a little messy, but it worked GREAT! Our walls were not prepped, sized, or whatever else you want to call it. It had an anorexic coat of water-thinned contractor’s paint in some areas. In those areas, using the steamer or any other method we used, still peeled the paint and has to be prepared.

    In such a small area (unlike the whole kitchen or master bath, in our case), I wouldn’t buy a steamer. It would be just as easy using warm soapy water. Peel off the facing of the wallpaper (Pi loved helping with this), spray the wall, wait for a few minutes, have someone scrap with the plastic putty knife (worked better than the metal one. Metal one dug into the walls a bit), while you gently peel the backing off the wall. It will come off in long strips, or even sheets, if you take the time to work with it, and you have some help.

  22. We removed the wallpaper that was molecularly bonded to the drywall in my bedroom. To do so we did the following; Scored the paper with a spikey roller that they sell at the paint store, applied some chemical solvent to dissolve the glue, and then used a steamer while simultaneously scraping with a flat blade. It came off after 2 days. It was a lot of work, but had a much better result than the powder room wallpaper we painted over. That was a hot mess and then to remove all of it and fix it correctly was such a huge undertaking. I wish we had just done it “right” the first time.

  23. Take the wallpaper off… My nieces had these horrible train sticker/wall paper… and we went to Lowe’s and bought this wallpaper remover in a purple bottle with a fish on it… and used a putty knife… stuff worked AMAZING… you can score it a little… and spray it… leave for 15 min… come back and most of it just peeled off… whatever wouldnt come off we sprayed again and worked at it… wash the walls after and then paint…

  24. So as I’m painting my craft room this weekend I’ve realized why the pros paint the trim first. Because it’s really hard to paint the sides of the trim (around the doors) without getting any on the walls. So then they tape as to not get any wall color on the trim.

    I’m kind of wishing I would have done that but I did not. So I’m just hoping no one notices that the sides of my trim aren’t painted.

    I’ve also learned that the lighter the wall color the harder it is to see mistakes. So you can bet I’m not picking any crazy bold colors ever again.

  25. yes! I made the mistake on a hallway that had weird walls. The prior wall hadn’t been finished correctly but I perservered trying to get it off. It turned out awful as the drywall paper came off in chunks with the wallpaper.

    Finally someone told me to prime the wallpaper and paint over. It looked wonderful in comparison! Smooth as anything. Best of luck.

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