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Dangers of Painting Over Wallpaper Glue

Do you really need to remove all that wallpaper glue?



Whenever it’s time to remove that outdated and not so good-looking wallpaper, we want to stress the IMPORTANCE of REMOVING all the residual glue left on the wall when removing any type of wallpaper. We will also cover the dangers of painting over the wallpaper glue.

We definitely agree that this can be a tedious part of the job, but this part can NOT be overlooked when removing your wallpaper. By removing all the glue from your walls prior to painting, you will be left with a professional finish that will last for years.

The DANGERS of mixing glue with latex paint.

The majority of glue that is used when hanging wallpaper is water-based. Chances are that when it comes to repainting any wall that previously had wallpaper on it, a water-based paint will be used. Water-based paint is the number one choice for consumers because it has a low odor, is more environmentally safe, and makes for easy cleanup.

What happens when you mix glue with a water-based paint? The glue absorbs the water from the paint and the water will reactivate the glue. This will cause your paint to NEVER fully adhere to the wall and cure. If you decide to paint over any type of glue that’s left on the wall from wallpaper, you can expect to see cracks and chipping paint down the road that will easily fall off the wall with a brush of your hand.

How do I remove all the glue?

All you need is some good old elbow grease. When we remove wallpaper, we use a sprayer and soak the wall or we will use a steamer. As the sheets of wallpaper come down, we always go back to spray the residual glue left over on the wall. By keeping the glue nice and wet, will help for easy removal when it is time to scrub the wall. Before you scrub the walls, use a  scraper to scrape off the big buildups of wet glue. We use lots of HOT water mixed with DIF or Downy Fabric Softener and scrub away with a sponge. Once the wall is all scrubbed down we will mix a fresh batch of hot water and go back over the wall with a final scrub down to make sure all the glue is off the wall.

Make sure the walls are dry before painting!

Your walls will take on a lot of water when cleaning glue and removing wallpaper. Before painting you must make sure the walls have had plenty of time to dry. We usually give them 24 hours and set up fans during the drying process.

For an extra precaution use an oil-based paint as a sealer.

Once the wallpaper glue is removed and the walls are dry, we will roll on a coat of oil-based primer. If for some reason there is glue left over on the wall, the oil-based paint will seal it up so that when it comes time to use a water-based paint you will have no issues with any glue reactivating. The water in the glue will NOT reactivate when it comes in contact with an oil-based paint. Water can not mix with oil.

It’s a good idea to seal your walls with an oil-based paint after removing any type of wallpaper. There will usually be extensive damage to your walls from removing wallpaper. A coat of oil-based paint gives a good protective layer and will prevent any more water from soaking into the wall when using any type of water-based paint. Because of the damage created by removing wallpaper, if water seeps into your walls from a water-based paint, you may notice tiny or large blisters forming as you roll on the paint. This will definitely make for a bad finish. Oil-based paint can seal your wall and definitely help prevent this from happening.

It’s best to use high quality paint after removing any wallpaper.

We only use Benjamin Moore when dealing with any wallpaper removal job. When it comes to removing wallpaper, every job is different. I think it is safe to say that when it comes down to the last days of finishing up your job, you will be excited and thankful that things are wrapping up and coming to the end. You might dream about wallpaper for the next couple days and might even promise yourself never again will I remove wallpaper. But at this stage of the game, it’s just not worth the effort or aggravation of dealing with a cheaper paint.

Below are pictures of what happens when all the glue is not removed and painted over with a water-based paint.


mark kitchen

Here is what the walls looked like before we got started on repairing them. Those white spots are from the old wallpaper glue that was painted over with a water-based paint. The glue reactivated causing the finish coat to become brittle months down the road. 

Danger of Wallpaper Glue

We spent about 5 hours using a disc and palm sander to remove all the weak paint to a sound surface.

mark kicthen2

We filled all the bigger holes and applied 2 coats of drywall compound to all the corners and edges to give a fresh look once painted. Plus, these corners had a lot of holes in the paint from the paint being pulled off the wall when the wallpaper was removed. At this stage, we focus on filling the bigger holes that will not fill when skim coating after the walls have been sealed.

mark kitchen3

After sanding everything, we applied one coat of oil-based primer to seal the walls and any old glue we could not get off. Next, we will skim coat all the walls with drywall compound. Once dry, we sand and roll on 2 coats of Benjamin Moore’s laytex paint that will leave a beautiful lasting finish. 

Wallpaper glue removal

Here are the final results…. Beautiful! 


We recently stumbled upon this product and have been having great results. Oil based primer is the best in our opinion but lets face it, it stinks bad and is just not that environmentally safe. When using oil you will smell and taste the paint for a few days after using it. Probably get a headache as well from the smell. If you want to avoid that, GARDZ will do the same thing as the oil. We recently changed over and have been using GARDZ rather than the oil based primer on all our wallpaper jobs with huge success.

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