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What is Paintable Wallpaper?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Paintable wallpaper provides a textured covering to interior walls. The texture may resemble that of carved wood, molded plaster or embossed fabric. The application of this type of wallpaper is comparable to regular, colored wallpapers. It can be used in kitchens, living rooms, hallways and just about any room. Paintable wallpaper can be finished in any color to provide a custom look to interior walls.

Typically, latex rather than oil paint is used to finish paintable wallpapers. Latex-based primer usually adheres better to this textured wallpaper type than oil-based versions. Like regular wallpapers, paintable wallpaper may be used in small amounts, such as to create one feature wall, or it may be applied to all of the walls in a room. Whereas regular wallpaper usually requires a smooth wall to adhere to, paintable varieties may be applied to rough or flawed walls.

Thicker types of paintable wallpaper are designed for covering very rough or damaged walls as well as the grooves in wood paneling. Since many homeowners are looking for solutions to covering wood paneling, thicker paintable wallpapers offer a good alternative to painting the panels, as they are designed to cover the grooves. Adding thick, textured wallpaper can make the wall appear non-paneled.

Although all paintable wallpapers are textured, the looks and patterns vary widely. The depth of the raised designs are also different, so the completed, painted result can be either subtly or dramatically raised. While some decorators prefer to cover the entire wall with the textured paper, others may place the paintable wallpaper on the upper section and add wainscotting or beadboard on the lower portion.

Most paintable wallpaper varieties are made to stand up to repainting. This way, if the paint color doesn't turn out as expected, or if it does, but the homeowner wants to change colors after several years, the wallpaper doesn't have to be stripped off and reapplied. Paintable wallpapers are usually comparable to regular, colored wallpaper styles in their ease of removal.

Due to their raised texture, paintable wallpapers often require several coats of paint. A good primer coat is necessary so the paint color adheres to all portions of the paintable wallpaper and not just some areas. A real benefit of this type of wallpaper is that people can use their favorite paint colors on both plain and wallpapered walls for a completely coordinated look.

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