McClurg's Home Remodeling Blog

Redecorating Ideas for Wallpapered and Masonry Walls

Posted by Paul Jones on Tue, Jul 10, 2012

how to paint masonry walls


Wall colors and fabrics are trends that most of us like to change in our homes from time to time.

Redecorating a home’s interior becomes a challenge when the walls are covered with wallpaper, brick and/or concrete masonry. 

Here a few ideas and how-to tips to help you update your home.


Redecorating Ideas for Wallpapered Walls

1) Change the appearance of wallpaper without removing it.  

The look of wallpaper can be changed by using some of the following tips from decorators:

  • Add neutral colored furniture and window treatments to the room. This will help minimize the impact of wallpaper with a lot of pattern.

  • Hang photos or pictures on the wall using frames in a color than coordinates or contrasts with the wallpaper. The pictures should draw your eyes away from the pattern of the wallpaper.

  • Hang sconces or mirrors in the room to tone down and cover up the wall.  Select finishes that either coordinate with or contrast against the wallpaper. If your sconces will hold a candle or a shade, choose a neutral color to “cool” the look of the wallpaper.

  • Use a large vase that complements the wallpaper or plants in a corner of the room to draw attention from the walls.

2) Paint the walls.  

Wallpaper should be removed from the walls before painting. Removing wallpaper requires patience and you will want to be sure that you don’t damage the walls. Removing wallpaper from lathe and plaster walls is especially difficult since there may be many layers of wallpaper, some holding the plaster together.

Painting over wallpaper is an option if the wallpaper is smooth, clean and not textured.  If you have to paint over wallpaper, the experts at Benjamin Moore Paint offer these tips:

  • Replace damaged sections of the wallpaper and adding adhesive to loose pieces to minimize the chance the paper will fall.

  • Add a thin line of clear caulk around the perimeter of the walls, at the joint seam where the paper meets the floor and ceiling. This will help seal the edges and keep the paper from peeling after you've painted.

  • Gently sand the seams of the wallpaper so they're not noticeable.

  • Apply a coat of oil-based primer tinted to the color of the paint to the entire surface of the walls before painting. This helps seal the adhesive within the paper. They recommend using Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start®.

  • Use oil-based paint. The moisture in latex paint can sometimes loosen wallpaper glue, causing bubbles or peeling.

3) Repaper the walls.  

Hanging wallpaper can be tricky. To get the best results, you will want to remove the old wallpaper. Once you’ve removed the wallpaper or if you’re papering over a painted wall, prepare the walls by:

  • Washing the surface with an ammonia mixture if there is grease or spray warm water with detergent on the wall and wipe with a cloth.

  • Spackle holes with a non-oil base compound. Let the compound dry.

  • Sand lightly to smooth the surface and dust the wall with a dry cloth.


Redecorating Ideas for Brick and Concrete Masonry Walls

Brick and masonry wall can be painted with either oil-base or latex paint. To prepare the walls for painting:

  • Clean off old paint that may be flaking with a wire brush.

  • Clean the surface with a solution of tri-sodium phosphate (TSP). Be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection. TSP can be found at a hardware or paint store and is in “Spic and Span” home cleaner.

  • Rinse the wall thoroughly.

  • If your wall was previously painted, a sealer is not necessary. If you are painting the wall for the first time, apply a masonry sealer.

  • Use a 1 inch nap roller to paint brick and a 3/8 inch roller to paint concrete masonry.

  • Use a tinted primer, the same formula (oil or latex) of the paint your plan to use on the wall. There are also paint products that are especially made for masonry that will provide a good result.

If you discover more complex problems with the walls you want to redecorate, you may want to consult a contractor to advise you about what needs to be done.

Please post below your questions on this article and I will respond. You can also send an email to me at or call me at 673-2051.

Topics: How-To Tips, Design Trends and Ideas, Painting