Can You Wallpaper Over Wallpaper? (Pro’s, Con’s and Warnings!)

Stripping wallpaper is one of life’s most tedious tasks, and I fully understand the desire to get out of that if possible.

No one wants to have to strip old wallpaper off the wall first, it's time consuming, it's boring, and it feels pointless.

For this reason, a question I get asked time and time again is whether you can wallpaper over wallpaper.

So, can you wallpaper over wallpaper? In some situations it's possible and others it's not recommended.  

Let me explain further...

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Wallpapering Over Cracked or Peeling Wallpaper 

If your wallpaper is in a bad state, with cracks and strips peeling off, then it can seem like the obvious fix would be to wallpaper over it with a shiny new paper.

However, this is not recommended.

Not only can it cause your new wallpaper to go on uneven, created lumps, and showing the cracks through, but it may also be a sign that something else is wrong.

Peeling wallpaper can often be a sign of dampness and excess moisture. In turn, this could also mean a possible growth of mold or mildew. 

This can sometimes only be located by stripping the wallpaper completely. For this reason, it is best to investigate this first by stripping your old one down and treating any damp before putting your new wallpaper up.

You will be thankful you did it in the long run. 

Wallpaper being papered over existing wallpaper

Wallpapering Over Visible Mold or Mildew 

This is related to the section above, however, it is so important of a consideration that it needs to be considered separately.

If there is any sign of mold or mildew on your existing wallpaper, it can seem like the easy option to just ignore it by covering it with some new wallpaper. 

However, this should not be done! This will not make the problem go away, and when left untreated it will only get worse.

At the first sign of any mold or mildew, you should strip the wallpaper down from that area immediately, and treat the source if you can locate it. 

If it cannot be located from that area then you may need to scrape it all off that wall. 

Wallpapering Over Embossed, textured, and embellished wallpaper 

If your existing wallpaper has any sort of embellishment such as diamantes, is textured in any way, or is embossed, then you should not hang new wallpaper over it.

This is because in doing that it is likely that the new wallpaper will have lumps and lumps as the texture will show through.

It will make for an uneven and messy surface, and you will have wasted your time, money, and effort.

Instead, as annoying as it is, you should strip the old wallpaper off first and start afresh. 

Consider the existing wallpaper first...

An important factor that you should bear in mind is whether you have vinyl-coated or non-vinyl coated wallpaper hanging on your walls.

Generally, if you have non-vinyl coated (also known as non-coated) wallpaper on your walls, then you can safely hang another wallpaper over it. 

However, if the wallpaper in question is vinyl coated, then you cannot wallpaper over it. This is due to the fact that vinyl wallpaper is non-porous.

A non-porous surface is a recipe for disaster as your new wallpaper will not stick to it, no matter how much paste you put on there. In fact, it can actually cause mold to grow! 

To find out whether your wallpaper is coated with vinyl or not, you can follow a quick and easy step to find out.

All you need to do is wet a small area of your paper with a warm, damp sponge or cloth.

If the area darkens with moisture then that will mean it is non-coated. If there is no change, then it is vinyl coated. Sadly, if you have vinyl wallpaper on your walls then you will have to do the dreaded task of stripping it off. 

Dark or patterned wallpaper? Consider this...

Just like the embossed and textured wallpaper, having a dark or heavily patterned wallpaper may also be a sign that you need to get the scrapers out.

Anything that has a really bold print or very dark colors will be very difficult to cover.

If your new wallpaper is lighter than the one that is already hung on your walls, then it is not a good idea to wallpaper right over it.

That being said, if your situation is the other way around, and your old wallpaper is light and the new one dark, then you can go ahead and paper over it to your heart’s content (provided it meets all of the other conditions on our list!). 

How many other layers are on the wall? 

The last thing that should be considered is the amount of wallpaper that is already on the wall. If you live in an old house, it is possible that other people before you have had the same idea.

For all you know, there could be four or five layers of wallpaper hanging under there, as is often the case in older homes. 

It is not recommended that you layer over more than one wallpaper. This is because dampness can build up underneath the wallpaper, and it is much harder to get to the root of the issue if there are lots of layers on the wall.

If you know for sure that there are already a few layers under there, then we are afraid you need to bite the bullet and start scraping.

Even if you are unsure, it might be for the best if you strip it all off anyway.

That way you know you have a fresh clean canvas and you will be reassured that there isn’t any mold, mildew, or damp hiding. 

Final Verdict On Wallpapering Over Wallpaper 

To conclude, wallpapering over wallpaper is not unheard of.

In fact, it is very common to find multiple layers in older houses that have had a number of different owners.

In some very limited circumstances, hanging wallpaper over wallpaper is absolutely fine, provided the old wallpaper is in pristine condition, has no cracks, is not peeling, and is free of embellishments and texture. 

However, in most cases, it is not typically recommended, especially if you are not absolutely sure that there is only one layer, or if the old wallpaper is super dark.

Follow our guide exactly and you will not be disappointed with your final wallpaper results.

 After all, what’re a few hours of stripping wallpaper compared with potentially hating your new wallpaper because it looks bumpy or the old wallpaper showed through…