6 No-Fail Tips for Decorating With Paintable Wallpaper

Annie Sisk
Written by Annie Sisk
Updated October 6, 2021
Young couple holding wallpaper roll against the wall
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Say buh-bye to boring walls

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When you’re faced with the choice between wallpaper and paint, you don’t have to decide one way or the other. Meet in the middle with paintable wallpaper, which provides a beautifully textured surface you can paint in whatever colors you choose.  

Paintable wallpaper isn’t new—it’s been around in some form since the 19th century—but the most modern forms give you a broader range of styles to choose from. And while paintable wallpaper makes it simple to customize your space, getting a wow-worthy result isn’t as easy as plastering and painting. But if you follow these tips, you can bring a dynamic look to any lackluster room.

1. Use It as an Accent

It’s certainly possible to use paintable wallpaper on every wall in the room. However, it tends to produce a strong, eye-catching effect that might detract from the rest of the space’s decor if it’s covering all four walls. 

Instead, restrict your paintable wallpaper to one accent wall or part of your walls. For instance: You can cover the top third of a wall above some wainscoting to create a dramatic impact, or use it below the wainscoting for more balance. Paintable wallpaper is also a great choice for smaller alcoves and powder rooms or half-bathrooms. 

2. Make a Test Panel

You can find paintable wallpaper in dozens of different designs and textures, perfect for just about any interior paint. However, the combo you choose might not produce the effect you’re picturing in your head. 

To avoid disappointment and costly do-overs, create a test panel first so you can see what the finished result will look like. You don’t want to realize after you’ve painted the entire wall that the texture virtually disappears underneath the paint you chose.

3. Prep the Wall

Woman patching up holes on the wall
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Hanging and painting wallpaper is an involved process. To ensure it lasts, take the time to prepare your walls first. 

Inspect the wall’s surface to find any imperfections. Use spackle to patch up any dents, holes, or nicks, which can cause air pockets that look not-so-great underneath your wallpaper. Sand those spots down until they’re smooth. 

Don’t worry about applying primer to your wall before hanging paintable wallpaper, as this can flatten out the design and cost you some of the lovely texture that you want.

4. Let the Wallpaper Rest

Achieving a perfectly even bubble-free finish can be a challenge for anyone. On top of that, painting textured wallpaper can also create a wrinkled appearance. 

While using a smoothing knife will help remove air pockets as you hang, let the wallpaper rest for about 36 hours before painting. This will help the adhesive firm up, keeping the wallpaper in place while you work with a brush or roller. 

5. Select a Low-Gloss Finish

After the wallpaper has cured in place and dried completely, paint it with your fave color. While you could conceivably select any finish, paintable wallpaper tends to look its best with a flat or eggshell finish. A higher-gloss paint might make the texture pop more, but it can look a bit dated once the paint has dried. 

6. Know When to Call a Pro

Worker painting wall using a roller
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If you cringe at the thought of a DIY wallpaper project, hire a professional interior painter near you. A skilled pro can hang your wallpaper and paint it in whatever color you desire. This way, you don’t have to stress about those pesky air bubbles, either. 

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