Lose wallpaper; start fresh with bathroom
Dear Debbie: I am redoing the two bathrooms in my home. They are wallpapered and the walls behind are not very smooth. Can I paint over the paper? I’ve redone the rest of the house and want these rooms to look good, too.
— Vicky Dear Vicky: Yes, in most cases, it is possible to paint over wallpaper, but I wouldn’t advise it. You have taken the time and energy to update your home and it sounds like you are pleased with the results. Now is not the time for shortcuts that may not measure up. A bathroom is not a large space and you could really make a big impact by fixing up the walls. Strip off the paper and start fresh.
Venetian plaster and stucco have made a big comeback in bathrooms and kitchens. Both can be pre-tinted, which saves the painting step if you choose. It’s not difficult to apply, and plaster walls feel luxurious. Venetian plaster has marble dust in it, and can be burnished to a silky-smooth shine. Stucco needs to be applied in thin layers or it will crack, and has a matte finish. Both plasters are porous, so apply two coats of acrylic varnish to seal when the plaster is going to be in a humid or wet space such as a bathroom.
In the sunny and serene bathroom makeover shown here, the plain tiles around the tub have been transformed with stucco that was pre-tinted a golden yellow. The upper walls are coated with pale yellow stucco. I replaced the metal blinds at the window with wood shutters, and now the bathroom has the blissful ambience of a farmhouse in Provence. Ceilings in a bathroom are important and can be fun to decorate. To create a little opulence, this ceiling was given a painted border and decorated with a golden stamp design.
Here are a few tips to make sure your bathroom redo is successful. Prepare and plaster Prepare your walls by washing off any wallpaper glue residue, and fill and sand any cracks or holes. Apply a high-adhesion primer and let dry overnight. Apply a thin coat of stucco with a trowel, working from top to bottom using cross-hatch strokes. You can create depth and interest by layering colours, or shades of the same colour. Play with the plaster until you have the effect you want. Note that unlike paint, which dries darker, plaster dries about 50 per cent lighter. A skim coat of plaster will smooth out or camouflage any little bumps on the wall. Painting the ceiling Use regular latex paint rather than ceiling paint when applying a decorative finish. Allow the base coat to dry overnight if you are going to be taping off a border, and always use low-tack painter’s tape. Look for decorative stamps at your paint store or arts and crafts store or online. We used a dia- mond design for this ceiling and taped off half of the design to make the pattern around the border’s edge. Apply paint to the stamp with a small paintbrush, being careful not to get in the grooves of the design. Too much paint will blur the image.
Stucco is a charming alternative to paint or wallpaper and with the proper prepara
tion, can even be applied over tiles.
Painted border and a stamped design bring a touch of elegance to this bathroom ceiling.