How to Paint Walls After Removing Wallpaper

Posted Jul 9, 2024 | Matt, Product Advice | 0 comments

As a Professional Decorator of well over 20 years, it’s fair to say I’ve done more than my fair share of painting. In this blog, I’m going to explain how to paint walls after removing wallpaper. I’ll start by listing the supplies and tools you need, then I’ll run through each step, followed by a more detailed outline of the process and my product recommendations.


How to Paint Walls After Removing Wallpaper


If you were hoping to remove the wallpaper and then apply two coats of emulsion, then I’m really sorry, but like a lot of things in life, it requires a bit more work than that. However, the process is simple enough. Just follow my advice and you won’t go wrong.



Pretty Boy Paint Cleaner and Conditioner – Click here to see online prices.

Sandpaper – Click here to see online prices.

Good quality filler – Click here to see online prices.

Zinsser Gardz – Click here to see online prices.



Cloth or sponge – Click here to see online prices.


Filling knife – Click here to see online prices.

Paint brush – Click here to see online prices.

Paint roller – Click here to see online prices.




Remove all wallpaper

If you’ve already removed every scrap of wallpaper, then you can skip this step, but often, there is still the odd bit of paper that needs to be removed. If you don’t remove these, then they’ll show through your paint.


Clean the walls

Any paste residue left on your walls will react with the paint, so you need to remove it. Clean the walls with Pretty Boy Paint Cleaner mixed with hot water.


Fill imperfections

This is where you fill cracks, scraper marks, and other imperfections on your walls. Once filled, allow to dry and then sand.



You’re left with a chalky surface that probably still has traces of wallpaper paste residue, so you need to seal everything before you can paint. You do this by applying a coat of Zinsser Gardz.



Apply two coats of good quality emulsion paint.


Preparing Walls After Removing Wallpaper


As promised, I’m going to go into more detail about each step and give you my product recommendations. I’ll carry on linking to an online store for each product, but you can get most of this stuff from any good trade paint counter. If you don’t have a trade account, then it’s probably cheaper to buy online. The two websites we use are The Paint Shed, click here to visit, and Decorating Centre Online, click here to visit.

Anyway, back to the prep, which is the most important part of the job. Get your prep right and use the correct products, and you’ll achieve good results. If not, then the surface will be full of imperfections and your paint will fail over time.

Pretty Boy Paint Cleaner and Conditioner

Pretty Boy is a new product it the UK, and Decorators have already started lapping it up. You dilute it with water and then use it to clean paint tools or surfaces you’re planning to paint. It helps dissolve dry paint, but more importantly, wallpaper paste.

This makes it perfect for cleaning your walls before painting. Mix it with hot water, sponge it onto your walls, allow it to soak, then wipe away the paste. Using a good product like this makes everything quicker and easier.

Pretty Boy Cleaning Agent for dissolving wallpaper paste.

Toupret Interior Filler

The filler I, and a lot of other Decorators generally use is Toupret Interior Filler. It’s a powder filler that you mix with water and then apply to the walls. You can mix it in a pot and stir with a stick, or on a board and work with a filling knife.

If you have a lot of surface imperfections, then you can mix it with more water and spread the filler over your whole wall if needed. If you have deeper holes, then mix with less water and make the filler stiffer. This prevents sagging.

Toupret Interior Filler is easy to work with, reasonably priced, and easy to sand.

Toupret Interior Filler to prep walls for painting after removing wallpaper

Zinsser Gardz

Some Decorators seem to skip this step, but they’re leaving themselves open to problems. Zinsser Gardz is the perfect primer when painting walls after removing wallpaper.

It’s very thin and easy to use. It binds powdery surfaces and creates a barrier between wallpaper paste residue and the paint. It makes the perfect base.

Plus, after applying Zinsser Gardz to your walls, you can give them another quick sand down with some fine grade sandpaper. This just ensures your walls are perfectly smooth before you paint.

Zinsser Gardz is a great product to prime bare plaster before applying wallpaper

Painting Your Walls


Strangely enough, in a blog explaining how to paint walls after removing wallpaper, the actual painting part is the easy bit. Once you’ve done the prep, all you need to do is apply two coats of paint. You’ve already primed the walls, so you’re good to go.

As a Decorator, I always steer people towards trade paint products because I know they perform well, but I’m not going to bore you with specific brands now.

Just use paint that suits the job in hand. If you’re painting a high traffic area, then you might want to go with durable matt. If you’re working in a bathroom, then you should consider acrylic eggshell. In a lounge or bedroom, then vinyl matt should be fine.

The painting is easy. Cut in around the edge of your wall, roll, allow to dry, then complete the process again. You’ll be left with perfectly flat walls with an awesome finish.




Do you need to Replaster walls after removing wallpaper?

You can replaster walls after removing wallpaper, but it’s a lot of mess and expense. Alternatively, you can either prep and paint as explained in this blog. Or you can apply lining paper and paint that instead. If you do need to skim, then you can do so with Dalapro Roll Nova to make things easier.


What primer to use after removing wallpaper?

We have always used Zinsser Gardz after removing wallpaper. It’s cheap, easy to apply, water-based, quick-drying, and creates the perfect base on which to paint.


What happens if you paint over old wallpaper glue?

If you paint over old wallpaper glue without priming, then the moisture from your paint will expand the paste, which will then contract after your paint has dried. This can lead to adhesion issues and a defect called crazing (mud cracking).


Can I sand wallpaper glue off?

Sanding will remove some of the wallpaper paste, but you’ll never get all of it without cleaning with hot water and an appropriate cleaning agent.


Is it OK to emulsion over wallpaper?

You can emulsion over wallpaper, but it isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. The moisture from your paint can expand and bubble the wallpaper or cause seams to open. You should apply an oil-based primer first. Click here to see more information.


Final Thoughts


Painting walls after removing wallpaper isn’t rocket science. The best advice I can give you is to not cut corners. Make sure your prep is thorough, use good products, and you can’t go wrong.

You can get a plasterer in if you’d prefer. Sometimes the walls are in such bad condition that it makes sense to have your walls skimmed. But 99 times out of 100, you’ll be able to avoid that cost.

Posted Jul 9, 2024 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.
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