Wallpapering over Vinyl and Removing Vinyl Wallpaper

Wallpapering over Vinyl and Removing Vinyl Wallpaper

Can I Wallpaper over Vinyl Wallpaper?

Wondering if you can wallpaper over that out of date style displayed in your living room? It's common for people to have questions such as these. For most wallpapers, the short answer is yes, but it is not advised since there are a few things that could go wrong and end up turning into a bigger hassle than you could have imagined. So you find yourself asking how to wallpaper over vinyl wallpaper? Unfortunately, wallpapering over vinyl wallpaper is not an option.

You should make every effort to remove the vinyl wallpaper first before trying to cover anything. The reason for this is based on the principle of adhesion. Wallpaper adhesives stick best on porous surfaces, and coated papers are known to not be absorbent whatsoever. The new wallpaper you have in mind will not have the same holding capabilities as it would over a properly prepared surface. The other end of the spectrum is true as well. Paper applied to non-prepped drywall has too much adhesion and will cause damage to the walls once it's tried to be removed.

Think that's bad? It gets worse, in fact, another issue that is recently becoming an important topic, and it involves the two major "M's" every homeowner does not want to deal with: mold and mildew. Imagine the mold and mildew invitation when you encapsulate wet adhesive between two layers of non-breathable vinyl. Aside from the lack of adhesion, you also create the ideal environment for mold. Yuck! As you can imagine, that's why it is crucial to take the time to remove the wallpaper. As they say, it's better to be safe than sorry!


You'll need to remove the vinyl wallpaper before adding any new decor. If the wall was properly primed before the vinyl adhesive was placed on the wall, you should be able to remove it fairly quickly in strips. The backing of the wallpaper is likely to stay in place on the wall. This is a messy job, but it is possible to remove the vinyl wallpaper and wallpaper adhesive. Just be cautious about not damaging the walls. It's important to not rush the process! Fair warning, the entire job does take a couple of hours to complete. It will help with the finished look. Wondering "how DO you remove vinyl wallpaper?" Don't worry, we answer that question below, as well!


How to Remove Vinyl Wallpaper (Easily)

Here are the steps you need to take when removing vinyl wallpaper:

  • You need to start at the top corner of one wall using a putty knife or a wall scraper to loosen the edge of the paper. Grab the lifted corner and pull downward. The top vinyl layer usually peels away in sheets or large strips.
  • If the vinyl rips off in strips, loosen another corner with your scraper and continue pulling until you have removed the entire top layer of wallpaper. Some parts of the paper may be more difficult to remove.
  • Ease up these pieces of vinyl with a wallpaper scoring tool to allow the wallpaper remover to get beneath the vinyl and to the adhesive.
  • Break through the vinyl with the scoring tool at least every couple of inches.
  • Apply wallpaper remover with a cloth or a brush until saturating the layer still covering the wall.
  • You can spray on some wallpaper remover, but read the label directions to apply it properly. We recommend Zinsser Dif Remover Spray. Let the remover work on the paste for 10 to 30 minutes. Wallpaper removers vary in the time they need to work.
  • Check the label to ensure you leave it on long enough to soften the adhesive. Work in sections small enough to allow you to remove the paper before the remover fully dries.
  • Begin at the lower corner of one wall and scrape off the bottom layer of saturated paper with a wallpaper scraper or a 6-inch drywall knife.
  • Removing vinyl wallpaper can damage walls if you aren't careful. Position the tool at a slight angle to avoid gouging the wall as you remove the paper.
  • Wipe the scraper clean with a paper towel after each pass. If you damage the wall, you can patch most minor nicks and gouges with joint compound. Stubborn sections of paper may not come off after one application of wallpaper remover.
  • Apply remover to these sections a second time and resume scraping. When all of the walls are clear, wash them with soapy water to remove all traces of cleaner and wallpaper paste.

Hopefully, these bullet points gave you all you needed to know regarding how to take off vinyl wallpaper!

If you need more information about removal, try some of these tips and tricks!

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