In the real estate market in the Northampton, MA area, many of the homes for sale are 100 years old or older. While houses of this age are generally full of charm and character - with age often comes a set of issues to deal with. Items such as possible presence of lead paint, asbestos wrapped heating pipes, floor tiles or exterior shakes, and old wallpaper over original plaster are among the issues found in older homes.
I recently sold a sweet, old farmhouse in Williamsburg, MA. The house was full of charm, character, and good vibes. The upstairs bedrooms, however, were wallpapered, and the plaster to which the wallpaper was adhered had shifted away from the walls and the lathe underneath. In a situation such as this, I would imagine that the only solution is the remove the plaster and the wallpaper - and recover it with new sheetrock and paint. There are times, however, when it is possible, and a good solution, to paint right over existing wallpaper. This article from Angie's List explains when and how this remedy would apply.
When you have to paint over wallpaper
Painting over wallpaper is acceptable if removal will damage the wall or the wall is already damaged.
(Brandon Smith, Angie's List) Brandon Smith/Angie's List--TNS
By OSEYE BOYD
Angie's List (TNS)
Thursday, March 31, 2016
While painting over wallpaper isn't the best option, sometimes it's the only option.
Forget what you've heard: It's possible to paint over all wallpaper -- and not just the paintable type.
While it's always preferable to remove wallpaper before painting, it's not always possible. Sometimes, you'll find layer upon layer of wallpaper, or removal will cause significant wall damage, says Jeff Sellers, owner of Merrifield Paint and Design of Arlington, Virginia.
"In some of these older homes, when you start pulling paper off you really don't know what you're getting into," Sellers says. "You can get the paper off and find the wall is damaged, and that's why they put the wallpaper up. You never know why people put up wallpaper."
Sellers says the type of wallpaper is a good indicator of whether it will come off easily. Paper-backed wallpaper is more difficult to remove than vinyl. You'll likely need to use a scoring device and adhesive remover, which may prove laborious and result in possible wall damage.
How to paint over wallpaper
You may be tempted to slap some paint on the wall, but there's more to it. Without proper preparation, the wallpaper will eventually lift and begin to show through the paint -- and look like painted over wallpaper.
According to experts, the wall should be clean and dust free. Remove all loose ends. If unable to remove, glue or cut away, spot prime and fill holes with spackle. Prime the wallpaper with an oil-based primer and skim the wallpaper with drywall mud to cover seams from the wallpaper and create a smooth wall. After skimming, sand the wall and prime again. Be sure the wall is dust free before applying paint.
"What matters is that you use an oil-based primer to seal the wallpaper," says Carlos Mendoza of Carlos Mendoza Painting, in Spring, Texas. "That's what's going to seal the wallpaper."
Once you've prepped the wall, Mendoza recommends using satin finish paint instead of flat, which is porous. If you prefer, you can use flat paint. However, because it's porous, flat paint holds dirt and is difficult to clean.
"The satin finish does show imperfections, but as long as you keep the texture consistent, you should be OK," Mendoza says.
Avoid bubbling, lifting or other issues with the wallpaper by testing a couple of spots and allowing to dry completely before painting the entire wall, said Octave Villar, manager of Behr application laboratory in Santa Ana, California.