Skim Coat Over Wallpaper? Yes Or No

You can’t skin coat over wallpaper if you want a good paint job. The technique results in the uneven paint coating. Trying to remove the wallpaper at a later point is also a lot more difficult after skim coating over existing wallpaper.

We all know just how much of a hassle it is to remove old wallpaper. Some types of wallpaper seem stuck to the wall forever. Other types of wallpaper are even more troublesome to remove. Trailer wallpaper comes off even harder.

This is why skim coating over old wallpaper is often a solution that many think is time-saving and money-saving. However, things are about to get very complicated if you decide to overlook professional advice.

It is possible to skim coat over wallpaper?

No, it’s not possible to skim coat over wallpaper. You need to remove the wallpaper and then skim coat the wall preparing it for painting. Even adding drywall over wallpaper is not advisable as it creates further issues with peeling paint and wallpaper.

Cutting down costs and hard work by skipping wallpaper removal is not an option. You need to get a ladder and start removing the wallpaper to avoid working more and investing more in the future.

The best way to remove old wallpaper is to spray it with warm water. You spray the wallpaper 2-3 times in even coats until completely soaked. It should start peeling slightly and easily at this moment. Using a knife you can proceed to remove the wallpaper spraying again over areas where the glue hasn’t been sufficiently penetrated by warm water.

What happens if you skim coat over wallpaper?

Let’s say you decide to overlook the professional advice painters give you. Skim coating requires a few hours to dry. After you skim coat the wallpaper you will notice all of the material falling off the floor. This is caused by the drawing of the moisture from the skim coat by the wallpaper. Simply put, the wallpaper absorbs moisture leaving your dry skim coat on the floor.

If you’re already at this stage you can proceed in 2 ways. You can either try and finally remove the wallpaper by hand or you can try a second skim coat which could potentially cover the wallpaper. However, all other future painting jobs will require taking off the wallpaper for texturizing.

5 Reasons Why Painting Over Wallpaper Is A Bad Idea

Skim coating over wallpaper has a few main disadvantages you should know about. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a practice that saves you money, not in the long term.

  1. You don’t save money on the long term

While you save money without paying a few extra hours of work for removing wallpaper you lose money with all of the trouble that lies ahead of this practice.

Skim coating over wallpaper causes possible paint stains, paint peel, and future work with removing the wallpaper once painted over. Any piece of wallpaper that isn’t removed has the potential to peel off at a certain point.

  1. Stripping wallpaper shouldn’t take more than 2 hours per room

Many think removing wallpaper is a job that takes days. This would come with high contractor costs. However, you can remove the wallpaper yourself. You need to spray the wallpaper with water a few times until it becomes wet and easy to peal. A contractor should be able to do this for you in about 2 hours per room. You only need to pay 2 hours of labor when properly removing wallpaper instead of paying for having drywall up or consider any other improvisation.

  1. You can lose time with skim coat not sticking

Since it doesn’t take a lot of time to remove wallpaper you shouldn’t skip this step. A Skim coat will not stick to all types of wallpaper or it might even fall as described above. In the end, you will work more hours for a job that shouldn’t take too long.

  1. Reduced wall breathability

Is wall breathability important? Yes, it is, especially if you live in a humid area or an area that gets a lot of rain. Breathability is essential in preventing mold and bacteria build-up on the walls. Low breathability is typically attributed to walls that are high in moisture. Wallpaper that isn’t cleared can attract moisture a lot easier than a wall that is finished properly.

  1. It will become very hard to remove the wallpaper in the future

If you go on with the skim coating job over the wallpaper it will be up to 10 times harder to remove the wallpaper in the future. Once you skim coat and paint over it the job of removing wallpaper is going to require hammers and a lot of physical force. This will damage the wall more than expected. You will end up working more and paying more to have the wall finished in the future.


Skim coating over wallpaper is considered a bad practice both for the painting quality results and for savings. You can expect better texturing when you remove old wallpaper. You can save more by not dealing with cracking skim coating due to peeling wallpaper.

It’s not complicated to remove wallpaper to prepare a wall. All techniques describing some type of hand tools used to cut and peel wallpaper are incorrect or they take too much time. The correct way to peel wallpaper is to spray it with water to dampen it properly. Once completely damp, the wallpaper is easy to remove. The wall is air-dried next before skim coating.

Skipping these steps leads to more troubles in the future such as peeling paint and even visible paint stains.