How to re-style wallpaper

Removing old wallpaper can be difficult and time-consuming. But if your wallpaper has overstayed its welcome and it’s time for a refresh, there are things you can do to quickly and easily rejuvenate your aesthetic. 

Wallpaper has the power to make a house a home. It can express your personality and add texture and pattern to your decor, so it’s important to get it right. Whether you’ve recently moved house or are no longer in love with your old wallpaper, you can do plenty of things to breathe new life into your space.

Follow our top tips on how to re-style wallpaper as we explore how to paint or wallpaper over your existing walls to lift your room’s energy.

Table of Contents

What can you put over old wallpaper

How to wallpaper over wallpaper

How to paint over wallpaper

How to paint over textured wallpaper

How to re-style your wallpaper

What can you put over old wallpaper?

There are two main options for covering up old wallpaper; painting and wallpapering. It is always advisable to remove your wallpaper first before starting a new project. However, if you’re looking for a quick fix, then it is certainly possible to paint or paper over existing wallpaper. Think about the following considerations before you make your choice.

Can you wallpaper over wallpaper?

Yes, it is possible to wallpaper over wallpaper, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind before reaching for the pasting brush. Consider the condition of the current wallpaper as well as the nature of the wallpaper.

Things to consider before wallpapering over wallpaper

  • Ensure the surface of the current wallpaper is smooth and even. Any scuffs or bumps will need to be sanded and evened out before you can wallpaper over them. 
  • Consider the texture of your current wallpaper. It is easy to re-paper over smooth matte wallpaper, but you will not be able to wallpaper over a coated vinyl as your new wallpaper will slide down. Nor can you wallpaper over textured wallpaper, as the bumps will show through the new wallpaper.
  • Make sure the new wallpaper is not too heavy, as it may not stick well to the old wallpaper or cause it to wrinkle and sag. 
  • If the wall you are considering papering has more than one layer of wallpaper, stay clear of applying any more. Wallpapering over multiple layers means you risk a layer peeling in the future.

How to wallpaper over existing paper

With the proper preparation and planning, it can be quick and easy to refresh your walls. If you’re happy to proceed with your project after the considerations above, follow these steps to complete your project seamlessly.

What tools do I need?

Gather all of your tools before starting the project

For preparation:

  • Wall filler
  • Spirit Level
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • Clean Sponge
  • Scissors

For pasting:

  • Adhesive
  • Paste brush
  • Bucket of water
  • Pasting table

For hanging:

  • Smoother brush
  • Sharp Stanley knife
  • Seam roller

How to apply wallpaper over wallpaper:

  1. Make sure the wall is clear and smooth by removing any fixings for photographs or mirrors. Fill in these holes and sand them to ensure that your surface is smooth. This will prevent any bumps or creases when you hang your new wallpaper.  
  2. If any pieces of your existing wallpaper are starting to peel, apply adhesive to those parts to restick them to the wall and leave them to dry. This will create a more stable foundation. Otherwise, your new wallpaper will start to peel too.
  3. Wipe down the walls with a duster to remove dust or dirt from the surface.
  4. Apply a wallpaper primer to create a smooth surface that your wallpaper will stick to better. Then, follow our guide on how to put up wallpaper and follow the instructions from pasting onwards.
how to wallpaper over wallpaper steps

Can you paint over wallpaper?

Painting over wallpaper is a great way to re-style your wallpaper for a fresh new look. 

Following the proper preparation of your current wallpaper, you can paint over nearly any type of wallpaper. Yet, as with wallpapering, there are a few considerations to ponder before delving into the project. 

Things to consider before painting over wallpaper

  • Painting over wallpaper won’t cover any rips or holes the way that wallpaper will. Removing the current wallpaper to create a smooth surface for a flawless look is a much better option. 
  • Loose wallpaper should be pasted and restuck to the wall as paint won’t cover these imperfections.
  • Is painting a short-term solution? Wallpaper that has been painted over is more difficult to remove, so it may be worth waiting to make removing the paper easier when the time comes.

What tools do I need?

For preparation:

  • Clean Sponge
  • Dust Sheets
  • Protective Clothing
  • Sandpaper
  • Masking tape

For painting:

  • Paint roller
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint tray

How to paint over wallpaper

  1. Prepare the wall by removing any fixtures from mirrors or photographs, filling in the holes and sanding down to make a smooth surface. Then, wipe the wallpaper with a duster to clear any dust or dirt from the surface. 
  2. Paint a primer over the wall to cover any dark-coloured wallpaper and to create a smooth base for painting over. 
  3. Use masking tape around the wall edges and skirting boards to protect the borders from accidental brush strokes.
  4. Start painting carefully around the wall edges with a paintbrush and, when finished, fill in the central part of the wall using a roller. 
how to paint over wallpaper steps

How to paint over textured wallpaper

  1. Follow the same preparation by removing fixtures and wiping down the wall.
  2. Apply a layer of primer to the wall using a roller and then retouch areas with a paintbrush to get into every nook of the pattern.
  3. Paint the wall using the steps above but paint in slower motions. The slower you paint, the more the paint can soak into the nooks of the pattern and cracks in the paper for a more even finish.
  4. Let the paint dry fully, then reapply a second coat to ensure all areas are covered. Although it may not look like a second coat is needed, the paint will continue to soak into the paper, which means the colour will start to appear lighter, and any missed spots will become more prominent.

How to re-style your wallpaper ideas

Rather than completely covering every wall of wallpaper with new paper or paint, why not try to re-style your paper differently? You can make a few smaller changes to your room before starting a completely new wallpaper.  

Create a feature wall

If you have neutral-coloured wallpaper, repaper over one wall with a bolder and brighter colour. Or you can even mix and match colours and patterns for a more vibrant aesthetic.

Alternatively, if your current wallpaper is on every wall of your room, remove wallpaper from three of the walls, leaving one feature wall. This is particularly useful when working with patterned wallpaper, as it makes the space feel more focused. 

Add some framed wallpaper art

Wall art can transform a space, adding some depth and interest to a room. Framing wallpaper is an excellent way to add some patterns and designs to your living space, and you have the freedom to choose a design you love.  

If you’ve got light-coloured wallpaper, choose some bold wallpaper to frame to liven up your space and shake it into style. Or, if your current wallpaper is bold and daring, find some neutral wallpaper to add contrast. 

Find a new design to re-style your wallpaper

Explore our selection of wallpaper to find the latest wallpaper trends to suit your space. 

Hang wallpaper in your living room or bedroom to create a relaxing haven, or design a dazzling entranceway to impress guests. 

With animal print, tropical, wood panel, marble effect and more designs in our wallpaper collections, channel your inner interior designer and re-style your wallpaper with Wallpaper Shop. 

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