As part of my never-ending home improvement, I’ve recently had beautiful new plaster in the living room and downstairs loo. There is nothing like the brand-new, smooth as glass surface of freshly plastered walls. I’m not a big fan of wallpaper especially after having to strip 60 years worth of it off the wall of our new home! So, the first question I asked my plasterer when he had finished was “How do I go about painting a plastered wall?”
How to paint plastered walls
You will need:
- Step ladder
- Dust sheets
- Vacuum cleaner
- Good quality paintbrushes
- Good quality roller brush set
- Masking tape
- Paper towel roll
- Dust mask
- Sponge and bucket
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Prepare for painting a plastered wall.
- Always use a dust mask when sanding an area or working in a dusty environment.
- Cover any furniture and carpets with a dust sheet which is taped to the floor to prevent it from slipping.
- Vacuum any dust from the surfaces before painting.
- Tape off any windows, door handles and light fittings, to prevent painting or spilling paint on them.
- Wear sensible shoes when climbing on ladders.
- Always work in a well-ventilated room.
Priming old plaster walls for painting.
First of all, if you are stripping wallpaper and painting old plaster walls you will need to take a putty knife and fill in any holes, cracks and peeling paint. Make sure any damaged areas are smoothed over. Take your time as this step is really important if you want to achieve a great finish!
How to clean plaster walls before painting
- Vacuum any dust from the walls before you start.
- Use some soapy water and a sponge to gently wash down the walls being careful not to over-wet them.
- Dry with a towel.
- Wait 24 hours or until completely dry before painting.
Painting a plaster wall after removing wallpaper.
- Sand the walls until they are smooth.
- Patch up any cracks or holes.
- Prime then paint.
How to smooth plaster walls before painting
- Cover the crack or hole with a thin layer of joint compound smoothing out along the way. Apply a second coat if necessary.
- Allow to dry then sand it smooth.
- Cover the area with a primer before painting.
Painting plaster walls with cracks
- Dampen the area with a water spray
- Use a wide blade filler knife and apply the filler.
- Allow to dry
- Sand until smooth
- apply a mist cost before painting.
Painting textured plaster walls
- Vacuum any dust and cobwebs from the plaster
- Cover the wall with primer using a deep-pile roller
- Use an M or W shape to get into all the pockets of textured plaster.
- Allow to dry then paint.
Painting a newly plastered wall for the first time.
If you’ve just had an extension or have freshly plastered walls these are the steps to follow before painting plaster walls for the first time.
- Leave your walls to dry.
It is hugely important that you let the plaster thoroughly dry before you paint over it.
This can be approx. 1-4 weeks depending on how thick the plaster is. Once the plaster is dry you should see that it lightens in color and is uniform without any darker damp patches.
- Clean the area.
Make sure the area is free from any debris or dust which may affect your finish.
Cover the light switches, skirting boards, furniture and carpets with mesh tape and dust sheets before you start.
- Allow drying time.
Allow 24 hours for the mist coat to dry before you start with the new paint.
- Apply your first coat of paint.
You are now ready to paint your walls. Try to allow 24 hours before applying your second coat of paint.
Best paint finish for plaster walls.
A matte or flat finish paint is the best for older plaster as it doesn’t show up imperfections as much. For newer plaster an eggshell or semi-gloss paint gives a washable surface and is quite durable for families with children.
Frequently asked questions
Painting on old plaster walls can be quite tricky but if you follow the procedure mentioned above you should be ok.
Try not to go for a cheaper brand of paint, as you will find that you will need more coats and it will turn out to be less cost-effective.
Eggshell or semi-gloss is the best type of paint for newly plastered walls it is also resistant to scuffs and general wear and tear.
Our house is fairly old and I found that although the walls were ok under the multiple layers of paint and wallpaper, I felt that they had lost their sharpness and needed a bit of TLC to bring them back to their former glory.
A good electrician should be able to smooth out any channelling he had to do during the rewire, you may find you need to apply a primer to those areas before you start painting.
You certainly need a primer when painting a newly plastered ceiling just as you do when painting a newly plastered wall.
Heavily artexed walls will need to be smoothed before plastering. This can be done by either removing the Artex or alternatively you could board over them then plaster.
Wet plaster contains gallons of water. To enable the plaster to dry out thoroughly you will need to ventilate the area well to avoid condensation it is also a good idea to put the heating on to help with the drying process. The better ventilated the room the quicker it will dry!
I consider myself a very handy person, however plastering walls is a job I prefer to leave to the professionals as it such a difficult and messy job. Hiring a professional will ensure that you get the smoothest finish possible which is hugely important when you are painting a newly plastered wall.
Newly plastered walls are full of moisture if you paint on top of walls which are not fully dry it will seal in the moisture and it will not be able to escape, therefore causing an issue with damp in the long run. I would advise you to ventilate the room well and allow a minimum of a week for the plaster to dry out.
If some of your new plaster isn’t drying despite waiting a week or more it may be that you have an underlying damp issue. Before going any further consult a professional and get the problem addressed.
In the past, I have made the mistake of using cheap brushes but I have found to my expense that the bristles fall out and that they can leave an awful streaky finish. So, now I always use a more expensive brush which does not shed and leaves a lovely smooth finish. I do prefer to use a roller for the biggest part of the wall and use the brushes to cut in at the corners. I use the Harris brand brushes and rollers.