Tips on Painting Over Fabric Wallpaper

Dilute primer with water when applying it to fabric wallpaper.
Dilute primer with water when applying it to fabric wallpaper. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you plan to paint over fabric wallpaper, you must contend with a particular problem: Because it is especially porous, fabric wallpaper tends to over-absorb primer and paint. This occurrence leads to poor coverage, requiring the painter to apply multiple coats and ultimately leading to an uneven finish. Combat this problem by diluting the primer prior to application. Once the wallpaper is properly prepared it will accept a painted finish, free from unsightly skip marks and uneven sheen.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloths
  • Latex primer
  • Measuring cup
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Wooden stir stick
  • Roller frame
  • Extension pole
  • Nap roller cover
  • 3-inch nylon paintbrush
  • Satin or semigloss latex paint

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Dust the fabric wallpaper with a broom.

Protect areas adjacent to the wallpaper by covering them with painter's tape. Protect the floor with drop cloths.

Pour 2 gallons of latex primer into a 5-gallon bucket. Dilute the primer by stirring in 5 oz. of water. Stir the diluted primer for a minimum of three minutes.

Coat the fabric wallpaper with the diluted latex primer, using a roller affixed to an extension pole. Roll vertically, moving from left to right. Use a 3-inch nylon paintbrush to apply primer to detailed areas inaccessible to the roller. Wait three hours for the primer to dry.

Wash each painting tool with water.

Coat the primed fabric wallpaper with satin or semigloss latex paint. Apply the paint as you did the diluted primer. Wait two hours for the paint to dry. Add a second coat if the coverage is poor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not paint unprimed fabric wallpaper, or the paint will flake.
  • Be sure to dilute the primer, or you may have problems with coverage.
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