Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Painting over embossed wallcoverings
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Painting over embossed wallcoverings

Hi All,
New to TOH boards & first post. The walls in our 1925 house are in pretty bad shape; crumbling horsehair plaster, rough texture, etc. We're going back & forth over whether to paint or paper; love the flexibility of paint, but hate the condition of the walls. I was watching a home improvement show today, and the designer put up embossed (textured) wallcovering and then painted it. As someone who's removed her share of wallpaper, I know this is a no-no, but then again, it did look great when it was done. I'd like to know if anyone's done this, and if so, are you happy with it? Thanks in advance for your comments & suggestions.

Re: Painting over embossed wallcoverings


Whereas this embossed, paintable wallpaper is relatively new to America, it has been around Europe for decades. I personally remember it from Germany 50 years ago. There it is known as Raufasur. Most of this material comes out of England or Germany.

You are correct, most wallpapers are not intended to be painted over. However, this material is made of reinforced paper and may be dry stripped at some time in the future when the owner tires of it. The problem with painting over regular paper wallcoverings is that it then becomes impenetrable to water and therefore almost non-removable.

The concept of painting over wallcoverings has actually existed in this country for at least a century also. At the turn of the 19th/20th Century, brand new homes would have the walls covered with canvas which would then be immediately painted over. This was done to control the fine hairline cracks which the plaster of that age would often develope. Also, the build up of paint over the decades could be simply pulled off the walls.

My own brother/business partner has one of these embossed textures on his family room ceiling. It resembles a tin ceiling. He painted over it with an oil enamel and then glazed over it to give an antigued look.

A. Spruce
Re: Painting over embossed wallcoverings

Normally, I say no to painting over paper, especially if your walls are in terrible shape and you're trying to cover them up.

First and foremost, the finished product is ONLY as good as the base, that being said, if your walls are crumbling, then papering them over and attempting to paint them will result in a resounding failure. IF, however, your walls are in good condition and you're looking for something unique, then installing a patterned border trim paper, then painting over it will give a very very good and interesting look. I have a friend who remodeled her kitchen that had a border wallpaper around the ceiling that got painted over. It looks phenomenally good! The embossed pattern of the paper shows through the paint like it was a plasterer effect.

Conversely, I've seen and have been on the clean up end of bad paper jobs that have been painted over, and not only does the paint fail, but the paper underneath fails as well, resulting in a miserable mess to have to clean up.

Re: Painting over embossed wallcoverings

Thanks for your comments/responses! You both obviously know what you're talking about! Sounds like we've got our work cut out for us; will probably go with wallpaper AFTER patching, sanding, and sizing the walls :(. Now if we can just find some we can both agree on...

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