Wallpapering Over Wallpaper

bedroom with bright red wallpaper

Can You Hang New Wallpaper Over Old Wallpaper?

Yes, sometimes! I know you were hoping for a simple yes, but it really does depend on several factors.

Existing Wallpaper – Paper Type

Wallpaper can be put into two main classifications: non-coated and vinyl-coated.

Non-coated: If your existing wallpaper is non-coated then there is a pretty good chance that you can hang new wallpaper over it.  I say ‘chance’ because you still need to consider several factors, which are listed below.

Vinyl coated: Vinyl papers are non-porous, so your beautiful new wallpaper won’t stick to it. You should make every effort to remove the vinyl wallpaper before hanging new wallpaper.

How to Test What Type of Paper it Is

Wet a sponge and rub it against an inconspicuous part of the wall, i.e. in a corner or behind a piece of furniture. If the wallpaper gets dark, it does not have a vinyl coat.

Additional Factors

Condition of the Existing Paper

If the paper has been up since the beginning of time and is showing signs of fatigue, such as peeling edges or cracks in the surface, it really needs to be taken down before installing new wallpaper. If not, this could cause your new wallpaper to start peeling or struggle to adhere securely in the problem areas.

If it’s the bathroom you are wallpapering, you need to ascertain if the existing wallpaper was created for humid environments. If it wasn’t, mould or mildew could be hiding behind the paper, which is another good reason to remove the existing paper.

Colour of the Paper

If the old paper has a very dark colour or pattern, there is a reasonable chance it could show through your new wallpaper and you should probably remove it.  A simple test is to have someone hold up the new wallpaper against the wall so you can step back and look for yourself. One thing you should remember is that the true finish of a wallpaper sometimes can’t be known until it is adhered to the wall.

Wallpaper Texture

If the existing paper is a paintable textured wallpaper, or embossed, it is probably better to remove it. The texture of the paper can make it challenging for a new paper to adhere properly, and the texture may show through.

Layer Upon Layer

If there is already more than one layer of wallpaper on the wall, it is time to get out the wallpaper stripper. Find out who your true friends are by inviting them over for a stripping party. Complimentary food and drink is a must.

Despite the practical reasons for not hanging wallpaper over vinyl papers, people still do it in spite of the risks, most likely to avoid the time and expense of having to remove the old wallpaper, or perhaps simply being unaware of the risks.

If you are determined to give it a try and see what happens, make sure you use a very good VOV (vinyl over vinyl) adhesive. Standard adhesives will not bond well to the vinyl surface of the existing paper.

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