Can You Wallpaper Lime Plaster Walls?

The stunning room finished with lime plaster.

Lime plaster creates a beautiful finish. However, some old lime plasters have been wallpapered, and you may be looking to replace them. Additionally, wallpaper may be a good option if a lime plaster finish isn’t exactly what you want. So can you wallpaper over lime plaster?

Generally, you can wallpaper lime plaster walls, although lime plasters will fare much better with suitable paint instead. When wallpapering them, you must consider two important factors. First, the wallpaper paste must be breathable. In addition, the wallpaper itself must also be breathable. Earthborn and Volvox produce a breathable wallpaper paste perfect for lime plaster.

The Potential Drawbacks To Using Wallpaper On Lime Plaster

Lime plasters are breathable. It’s such an important factor to consider when choosing how to decorate any old or new lime plasters. Any material or paint described as ‘waterproof’ should not be used with lime building materials.

The Issues Of Using Waterproof Coatings And Finishes On Lime Plasters

So as you may have guessed, waterproof coatings are not good choices for use with lime plasters. Lime plasters are generally used to restore old buildings, pre-1930s before cement was more commonly used. These older buildings tend to move more on their foundations and with the weather and seasons than modern buildings.

This movement, among other factors, such as worse damp-proofing materials, often leads to water ingress. Water ingress isn’t a big issue for these older buildings because they were built using breathable materials like lime mortars, renders and plasters. The lime building materials could absorb and evaporate away any damp or water ingress.

Related article: Should Lime Plaster or Render be Sealed?

However, if the lime plaster is covered with a waterproof coating, such as modern paint or waterproof wallpapers, the evaporation of excess water cannot occur. Trapped water can cause serious damage to buildings. Over time, masonry, timber and other building materials can get broken down and weakened by trapped water. This is why it’s important to use breathable products with lime mortars, plasters and renders.

How To Avoid These Issues And Be Able To Wallpaper Lime Plaster

As I have already mentioned, whilst wallpapering lime plaster isn’t the best way to decorate it, you can do it provided you use good materials. Using a breathable wallpaper and wallpaper paste is a must.

Volvox and Earthborn both make a great wallpaper paste that has almost no impact on the breathability of the lime plaster. These pastes have no resins, which is a major factor in how breathable the paste will be. They are sold as a powder, ready to be mixed with water.

It is possible to purchase breathable wallpapers. Usually, they are non-woven. Vinal wallpapers should be avoided as they are usually waterproof. Wallpaperfromthe70s have a range of non-woven wallpapers which are breathable.

Removing old wallpaper.

Wallpapering Fresh Lime Plaster

If you’ve recently had lime plastering done and are looking to wallpaper it, there are some important considerations to make first. Lime plaster can take months to cure fully. It’s not usually recommended that you wallpaper until the plaster has been curing for at least a month per inch of plaster thickness. You can begin the countdown when you can no longer make an indent with a fingernail.

Using wallpaper before allowing the proper time for curing can cause the wallpaper to fall off. Also, consider why you are wallpapering the plaster. Could you achieve the desired finish using lime paint, limewash, clay paint or any other suitable paint for lime plasters? You can create an awe-inspiring finish with just lime plaster and a high-quality limewash or lime paint.

Related article: What Are The Best Paints For Lime Plaster?

Usually, lime plaster creates a beautiful finish that, in my humble opinion, should never be covered with wallpaper. Lime plasters can be finished in several different ways. For example, you can have a textured, smooth, coarse or rustic finish. A good lime plasterer can produce several different finishes depending on your desire and the specific lime plaster used.

Painting Wallpaper That Has Been Applied To Lime Plaster

In addition to ensuring the wallpaper and wallpaper paste is waterproof, any paints or finishes used on the wallpaper must also be breathable. Modern waterproof paint at this stage would undo all your hard work in finding and using suitable breathable pastes and wallpaper.

As long as you made sure that you used a breathable wallpaper, you should be able to apply limewash, lime paint, clay paint or any other breathable paint suitable for lime plasters. It’s always recommended that you do a test area to check that the selected paint can adhere properly to the wallpaper.