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How to remove, prep and hang wallpaper

From the Resene Paint Experts Q&A

Do you have a question about how remove or hang wallpaper? Browse through this Q&A for help with your own projects.

Always make sure you read the product label and data sheet prior to application. If in doubt about any aspect of your project, please ask our Paint Expert for help or come in and see our staff at your local Resene ColorShop or Reseller.



Q. Can I use anaglypta wallpaper over other wallpaper?

A. Yes, you can, as long at the existing wallpaper is sound. Keep in mind that best practice is to remove existing and re-apply on a bare/prepared wall to ensure that the new weight does not lift the old wallpaper.

You could do a test area.

November 2023

Q. I’m wondering what vinyl wallpapers you have? I’m looking at wallpapers for one wall of my bathroom, but it will have wet towels hanging on it so I’m thinking I need vinyl.

A. Most woven wallpapers now have a small amount of vinyl in the make. If you went for a true vinyl, the wallpaper would have a shiny look.

You can apply two coats of Resene SpaceCote Clear over the wallpaper once the paste has dried for extra protection and wipeability.

September 2023

Q. I have a section of wallpaper lifting in my bathroom. Please let me know if you have a product, I can use to repair the lifting wallpaper. The wallpaper has been in place for over 20 years.

A. Check underneath the wallpaper for any mould growth prior to re-fixing in place. If there is mould growth, treat using Resene Moss & Mould Killer.

The remedy is to spray with a fine mist (enough to make it soft to stick back down) to take the memory out of the wallpaper shape it will have become. Use a product called Stick Down to glue the wallpaper that is sold at your local Resene ColorShop.

September 2023

Q. Can you please advise on the Fire Group Rating of your wallpaper range?

A. Our Wallpaper has a G2S rating. The code allows for a G2S rating without testing on plasterboard.

March 2023

Q. We require a paintable wallpaper to achieve a good finish over a curved MDF unit. The interior designer has suggested an Anaglypta smooth fibre liner. Can you please help me out with a product suggestion preferably one that doesn’t have a large lead time?

A. The Anaglypta lining paper be ordered from any Resene ColorShop. We can also supply up to a 600 gram but that would need to be ordered in from overseas.

The MDF will need to sealed with a coat of Resene Quick Dry followed by a coat of Resene Sureseal before sizing and applying the wall aper. A waterborne primer must be first applied to the MDF and then followed with the pigmented sealer, the latter is the requirement of the wall paper suppliers.

June 2022

Q. Is it possible to paint over black flock wallpaper? It is on two walls in our bedroom and we find it just too overpowering.

A. A tricky question discussed this with a few learned colleagues and the consensus is the stripping of the paper is the best option. There are too many unknowns, and the result is that we think that painting may not give a suitable outcome due to the potential for the flock areas possibly telegraphing through a paint system.

April 2022

Q. I am changing anaglypta paper. IIs there a special paste for heavy paper? What paint sheen or paint type is best?

A. For anaglypta wallpaper use Metlyn Special. For the paint use Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen.

April 2022

Q. I have used a Resene wallpaper a month or two ago. Having patched a hole in the wall with Builder’s Fill, undercoated the walls and then wallpapered, the wallpaper has almost bleached where the builder’s fill has been used. What has caused this?

A. Builder's Bog is rarely used for repairing defects in a plasterboard wall prior to wallpapering. A gypsum-based plaster/stopping is the usual repair product. The bog contains a peroxide curing agent, this component can act as a bleaching agent, if the mixed bog has an excess of the hardener, then I would expect this to be the problem. This has the potential to bleach the colours in the paper.

March 2022

Q. I’m removing the wallpaper off the original wallpaper and struck some mould in places under some of the original wallpaper. I have scraped off the mould. How can I prep to stop the mould coming back before repapering?

A. You can treat mould with Resene Moss & Mould Killer. Then apply a full coat of Resene Sureseal before repapering. You cannot prevent mould re infestation in this case, but the Resene Moss & Mould treatment will help kill off mould spores.

September 2021

Q. How long can you leave washi tape on and can you even paint over it? I was thinking of hiding old wallpaper seams after sanding them and this tape seems ideal.

A. Washi tape cannot be used for your situation. A possible way to flush fill the gap between wallpaper sheets is to use GIB® RediFilla to fill the gap, carefully sand to achieve a flush fill then prime the filled area with Resene Broadwall Waterborne Wallboard Sealer.

If painting wallpaper, our recommendation is to apply a full coat of Resene Vinyl Wallpaper Sealer before painting, however the Resene Vinyl Wallpaper Sealer cannot be applied over Resene Broadwall sealer. Resene Vinyl Wallpaper Sealer is required to stop migration of plasticisers from the paper into the paint system, if the migration does occur it will cause the waterborne topcoat to remain soft.

May 2021

Q. We're wondering if it's wise to wallpaper a smallish freestanding-fireplace alcove? We're aware many people have straight walls wallpapered behind their woodburners, but haven't seen it in an alcove before.

A. If the alcove temperature is hot then this can result in the wallpaper peeling.

April 2021

Q. I sealed old plasterboard with an acrylic sealer and was planning on putting on size then paste for wallpaper. Is it ok that the sealer was acrylic and not oil based?

A. Wallpaper size and adhesive needs to be applied to a solventborne pigmented sealer such as Resene Sureseal, this is the recommendation from the wallpaper suppliers.

March 2021

Q. What would be an acceptable warranty with wallpaper lifting. i.e. wallpaper that was hung 10 years ago is now lifting in places. Also what would you recommend for the joints and seams to paste back down.

A. The remedy is to spray with a fine mist (enough to make it soft to stick back down) to take the memory out of the wallpaper shape it will have become. Use a product called Stick Down that is sold at your local Resene ColorShop. Wallpaper can pop up, to have it only happen now so long after initial application means something within the environment has started the process.

November 2020

Q. We have an old villa built with kauri and native timber. Our walls are tall and wallpapered with hessian cloth and need refurbishing. What are our options considering the hessian. Is it possible to wallpaper without the hessian, could we paint the walls instead?

A. Without the hessian you will need to put up plasterboard as all you are probably left with is rough sawn boards as a substrate. If you decide to keep the hessian and want to wallpaper then re-staple the hessian to make it taut then apply lining paper horizontally then hang the patterned paper as normal. The lining paper strengthens/tightens the hessian and acts as a good base for the wallpaper.

May 2020

Q. Is there a way to wallpaper over wallpaper? Same parts of the wallpaper are smooth and stuck on solid, some parts have rips and some parts are peeling back. I'd like to, if I can, re-wallpaper without having to peel the wallpaper off.

A. Normally we don’t recommend wallpaper on top of wallpaper. However, there was a past practice of using PVA adhesives to fix wallpaper, if the paper was fixed using this the removal is next to impossible without causing serious damage to the plasterboard.

You can spot prime the areas where the paper has been removed from with Resene Sureseal and then use a gypsum stopping compound to fill and fair it. After sanding smooth, apply a full coat of Resene Sureseal before re hanging wallpaper.

April 2020

Q. What is the best way to remove old textured wallpaper (probably late 80s early 90s) and prepare the wall for painting?

A. A wallpaper steamer is the best, score the paper (to allow the steam to penetrate the paper. There has been in the past a practice to use a PVA based wallpaper adhesive. From experience if this adhesive type has been used it is almost impossible to strip the paper.

April 2020

Q. I have skim and sarking type of walls instead of traditional GIB® walls in my house. Is it possible to replace the old wallpaper with a new one?

A. You will need to hang some lining paper horizontally before hanging your chosen paper. Otherwise should be all good.

March 2020

Q. When painting paintable wallpaper, do you use just one coat or do some of them require more than one?

A. Two coats of the topcoat colour are required to achieve a uniform colour.

January 2020

Q. Can I put wallpaper straight onto new plasterboard?

A. No, the stopped plasterboard will need to be sealed with Resene Sureseal. This is a recommendation from the wallpaper supplier.

August 2019

Q. Can wallpaper be used in a bathroom with a shower or bath close by, or a wet area like a bathroom? Or are there certain types of wallpaper that can be used in these areas?

A. Yes you can wallpaper in a bathroom, however it comes down to ventilation. If the bathroom is prone to condensation or fogging up on a regular basis we would not recommend wallpapering as the moisture gets in behind and the paper will lift.

June 2019

Q. How much more paper will I need to hang a horizontal striped paper diagonally?

A. We generally recommend allowing about 20% extra wallpaper.

April 2019

Q. I am removing wallpaper from 1985 plasterboard.  What is the best option?

A. A wallpaper steamer is most often the quickest way to strip wall paper (most hire companies should have the steamers for hire). Scoring the paper first does facilitate steam ingress behind the paper and this makes removal easier. There is one possible problem, if the wallpaper has been applied using a PVA wall paper adhesive then removal is almost impossible to achieve without damaging the plasterboard surface. Unfortunately there is no way to establish what wallpaper adhesive was originally used. 

March 2019

Q. I require to paint over existing wallpaper. Do you have a specific paint I can use for this purpose, so that the wallpaper does not lift when painting?

A. We recommend applying a coat of Resene Vinyl Wallpaper Sealer before applying two coats of Resene interior wall paint such as Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen.

The sealer is very fast drying and is a solventborne sealer; ensure that a mask fitted with an organic cartridge is used when applying the sealer. Cleaning of brushes/roller sleeve used to apply the sealer is also difficult to achieve, so we suggest disposing of the brush or roller sleeve after you have finished applying the sealer. (You can use a lower quality brush for cutting in of the sealer).

February 2019

Q. What is the correct way to paint over existing vinyl wallpaper using Resene paint?

A. Most old wallpapers are vinyls and if these papers are painted with waterborne paints the paint can remain tacky due to plasticiser migration from the vinyl paper into the paint.

To block plasticiser migration we recommend applying a coat of Resene Vinyl Wallpaper Sealer before applying the waterborne topcoat paint.

October 2018

Q. I want to use old wallpaper which was prepasted. Can I paste the wall or do I need to use paste on the paper?

A. Unfortunately you can't treat it like a paste on the wallpaper; otherwise it won't last long on the walls. Depending on how old the paper is you have two options:

1. If the paper is only 1-2 years old you won't need to add extra paste. You just need to follow the instruction on the back of the gaitor label. Put the paper through a water trough, let it rest (for the stated time) and then put the paper up.

2. If the paper is older than 2 years, you will potentially need to treat it like a paste the paper. Mix the paste to the correct ratio (see packet for details) then paste the back of the paper. This, along with the original paste, will then need to be rested and then you can put the paper up.

September 2018

Q. I would like to paint over paper wallpaper and also some older vinyl wallpaper, what should the prep. be?

A. For vinyl wallpapers, you must first apply a coat of Resene Vinyl Wallpaper Sealer before applying two coats of SpaceCote Low Sheen. Note that Resene Vinyl Wallpaper Sealer contains a strong solvent, so if using in a poorly ventilated area, use a full face mask fitted with an organic cartridge. The product dries very quickly, cut in with a brush then roller apply. We do not recommend trying to clean brushes or roller sleeves.

August 2018

Q. What is the best way to remove wallpaper? Also, can it be painted over and not show joins?

A. A wallpaper steamer is the easiest way to remove wallpaper (the ease depends upon the wallpaper adhesive originally used). Score the paper to allow the steam to penetrate through the paper first. The depth of a wallpaper join often means that the join cannot be disguised by painting.

August 2018

Q. We had wallpaper professionally hung two years ago. We have noticed the meeting edges of strips lifting slightly in places - why would this happen now?

A. There are two scenarios here that may be the cause; they are technically known as ‘Peaking Joins’, the other is ‘Curling Edges’.

1. Peaking joins:

The wallpaperer may be working too fast which is not allowing the paper backing of the wallpaper to expand fully prior to hanging - paper backing expands up to 2%. The paper therefore continues to expand on the wall, causing the joins to peak. The solution is to slow down and allow the paper to soak fully before hanging.

2. Curling edges:

This occurs on paper backed product due to tension in the drying process. There can be a number of factors or combination of factors that will cause this:

  • Incorrect relaxing time (as per above).
  • Lack of paste (pre pasted) - drawing the paper too quickly through the water trough if one is used.
  • Too hot when installed – edges dry out.
  • If paper is being hand pasted there may be a lack of sufficient paste on the edges or the wrong paste is used.
  • The use of a seam roller, which forces the paste from the join

Solutions: To ensure a 100% finish, the best way forward is to strip and rehang. However, another solution may be to carefully peel back the joins slightly, apply paste to the back of the paper, allow it to soak/relax and then reapply a small amount of paste again and push the paper to the wall. Do not use a seam roller on the joins, as this may force the paste from the joins resulting in the scenario repeating itself - there are no guarantees here but it may work for you.

May 2018

Q. I have a container of Beeline premixed wallpaper paste that was opened a few months ago. Is it still okay to use?

A. Our wallpaper supplier said it can depend on how it’s stored. If the bucket was partially used the air in the bucket can change the viscosity of the paste. It can become very watery and this would not be usable. If the paste is the same consistency of when it was first used it should be fine to use. If there is any doubt, dispose of the paste and use a fresh container.

April 2018

Q. I have got a standalone feature wall that will take 2.75 widths of grass cloth wallpaper. When you come in the front door you look straight at this wall. Should I begin hanging the paper from one side edge, or should I centre my first drop in the middle of the feature wall?

A. If I was doing this in my own home, I would start in the middle. However, it really comes down to your own style.

March 2018

Q. What type of wallpaper is best for bathrooms? Do they have to be waterproof? I like the idea of a fun print in my bathroom to change things up!

A. Bathrooms need all the help in the world to withstand moisture so top quality strong vinyl papers that are waterproof and can be scrubbed if soap, shampoo and mould and moisture get onto the surface are the only ones worth considering. The joins on the paper will always be at risk so you may need to ensure the edges are double pasted to stop them lifting. Lots of ventilation and carefully wiping any free moisture off the paper will help it to look its best in an area that is traditionally known to be tough on wall finishes and wallpaper.

December 2017

Q. We have wallpaper in our home; it has been up for 10+ years. In places, it has come unstuck and I’m keen to know the best approach on how to fix it. A few bits are around our fireplace - the paper is quite brittle and I feel that if we were to try and move it to re-paste, it might break.

A. Lift affected areas and dampen with a sponge over a period of 7-10 minutes, to completely relax the paper. Apply a small amount of ShurStik - Wallpaper Stick Down adhesive under affected area and press back firmly. Immediately remove any residue from surface with a damp to wet cloth.

This is not a guaranteed fix, but is the best suggestion we have for this situation. It is possible your wallpaper may break if it is very brittle. You will need to weigh up the risk before trying the repair.

July 2017

Q. I have a container of Halls Beeline Premixed Wallpaper Paste that was opened a few months ago, is it still okay to use?

A. It can depend on how it’s stored. If the bucket was partially used, the air in the bucket can change the viscosity of the paste. It can become very watery and this would not be usable. If the paste is the same consistency of when it was first used, it should be fine to use. If there is any doubt, dispose of the paste and use a fresh container.

July 2017

Q. When wallpapering walls that have been previously painted and in good condition, is it necessary to pigment seal before papering? Also, is it necessary to size the wall, if you are using the paste the wall technique?

A. When hanging wallpaper over acrylic paint, use the following system: Ensure the area to be wallpapered is clean, by washing the entire wall with sugar soap. Then wash again with clean water and let dry. Then sand the entire surface with 120/150 grit sandpaper. Dust entire surface. Coat entire surface with Resene Sureseal pigmented sealer - the sealer should be thinned by approximately 5 per cent to ensure full penetration into the substrate. Leave 1 week. When dry and cured, sand entire wall with 80 grit sandpaper, to provide a good and adequate key for size and paste to adhere to. Dust entire surface to completely remove all dust particles. If using paste-the-wall wallpaper it is recommended to size the walls with ShurStik Wallpaper Size.

June 2017

Q. Can I use wallpaper in a bathroom on a wall not near the shower?

A. Most modern wallcoverings have an easy-care vinyl coat which is designed to withstand normal day-to-day activities, but some are designed for their aesthetic value only. Defining whether or not wallpaper is suitable in your bathroom is largely dependent on your lifestyle and the way you use your space. There is no simple yes or no answer. Most of the time wallpaper will be an appropriate choice. Caution should be taken if the bathroom is a poorly ventilated space as excessive moisture/humidity could affect the adhesion of the wallpaper to the wall. Check the physical properties and cleaning abilities of the wallpaper itself to make sure you are choosing the ideal wallpaper for your bathroom. For a bathroom a scrubbable wallpaper would be ideal. This information would generally be found on the product label or in the wallpaper books. If you do select a wallpaper that is not scrubbable it could be a good idea to purchase an extra roll (or more depending on the size of the space you are proposing to wallpaper). This way if damage were to occur in the future you would have to wallpaper needed to repair it.

June 2017

Q. Are your wallpapers suitable for commercial application? I.e. can you provide fire ratings certs? Notably the Anaglypta embossed range.

A. To provide a test for every wallpaper is not a possibility. However the fire code does allow for a G2S rating whiteout testing on plasterboard as long as the paper thickness does not exceed 0.4mm. This may not be possible with heavily embossed papers.

September 2016

Q. We have a smooth Seratone® walled bathroom. I would like to apply wallpaper to one portion of the wall. Is this possible?

A. In my experience it is very difficult to apply wallpaper to a Seratone® type wall lining and achieve adhesion to the surface.

June 2016

Q. Can I re-wallpaper over the existing painted wallpaper if it is in good condition? The walls are quite straight and look good. I worry that stripping may wreck the walls.

A. Our wallpaper supplier recommends that the existing wall paper is stripped before re-papering.

January 2016

Q. I am looking for a wallpaper that can eventually be painted. It's going to stay wallpaper only for at least 5 years so I am wanting a coloured paper. Do you stock anything like that?

A. Most wallpapers can be painted with prior sealing.

November 2015

Q. I am wallpapering a newly rendered wall for a client and wondered what system to paint onto the render? I have been advised to use Resene Sureseal under any paint on other walls which are newly rendered (4 weeks ago). Would this be suitable to go under the wallpaper too?

A. Wallpaper should be applied over a surface sealed with an oil based pigmented sealer such as Resene Sureseal.

November 2015

Q. How do you remove wallpaper?

A. The most efficient way is to use a wallpaper steamer.

July 2014

Q. We are currently renovating and are repairing our lathe and plaster in preparation for painting. Our plan was to cover with lining paper to paint and we're unsure whether to paper with pre-pasted or non pre-pasted wallpaper and are after some advice please.

A. A lathe and plaster wall finish is not common here. The plaster when dry will need to be sealed with Resene Sureseal prior to sizing and hanging of the paper. It is common to use what are referred to as paste the wall papers. These papers do not expand or contract when hung.

July 2014

Q. How do you remove wallpaper?

A. There is a little information on wallpaper removal and more on wallpapering in this document.

You can also hire wallpaper steamers that can help make wallpaper easier to remove. There's not one set method that people use. The main thing is for the wallpaper to be well wetted and allowed to soften so you can strip it off.

July 2014

Q. How long does the paste last on pre-pasted wallpaper?

A. Pre-pasted wallpaper is designed to be used as soon as possible after purchase. The paste on the backing of pre-pasted wallpaper breaks down over time while in storage. This is not a product fault but merely the nature of the type of adhesive used.

It is best to avoid storing it. If the wallpaper has been stored for a period of time, it can still be used; however the installer will need to check for the presence of paste:

Step 1 - Open and unroll the wallpaper.
Step 2 - Using a wet sponge, wet from edge to edge of the drop.
Step 3 - Feel for presence of adhesive or ‘tackiness’ especially on the edges of the drop.

If there is any doubt, paste the wallpaper as per the instructions for un-pasted wallcoverings.

May 2014

Q. What would you recommend doing with wallpaper corners that are lifting slightly please?

A. We sell Wallpaper Stick Down Adhesive for re-attaching detached areas.

April 2014

Q. I’m building a house. I am having a feature wall with wallpaper. Do I mount the TV before I hang the wallpaper or after and why?

A. It is usual to paper the whole wall then fix appliances. The only situation I can see any benefit in wallpapering after fixing the unit is if the TV is to be placed in a wall recess.

January 2014

Q. How to I deal with mould on wallpaper?

A. If the wallpaper is washable, use warm soapy water and a sponge or wallpaper cleaner. Always wash according to the level of washability of the wallcovering and test a small inconspicuous area that you are washing first to make sure it’s not going to discolour.

Different wallpapers have different washable properties and will be affected differently by mould.

December 2013

Q. I am in the process of rewallpapering. I have stripped the very old wallpaper but it has torn shallow depressions in the old plasterboard, and there are a few really old mould stains that were starting to come through all the layers of old paper. Can I use the Resene Moss & Mould Killer on this old plasterboard effectively, and if not how can I remove them, and stop them from coming through the new paper?

A. Yes you can use Resene Moss & Mould Killer to treat the areas of mould. The appearance of mould can suggest the area is prone to dampness so it would be sensible to see if there is a water ingress issue where the mould is present.

November 2013

Q. How long in time can plasterboard be left exposed before wallpapering? If it has been left to long can it be treated? What are the consequences if it is not treated?

A. In theory as long as the board is maintained in a dry state and protected from UV exposure the plasterboard can be left exposed for long periods. The usual situation that develops with aged plasterboard is the appearance of a colour change of the plasterboard paper to a yellow colour. If this is the case then seal with Resene Sureseal prior to application of a wall paint system. If the yellowing is not sealed using a solventborne pigmented sealer the staining of the acrylic paint is likely to occur.

May 2013

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