Home ImprovementHow to Paint a Room Like a Pro
Painting newly-plastered walls and ceilings sound like a simple task. “I just grab a handy roller and paint, right?” Nope!
Actually, the new plaster is among the most challenging surfaces to paint successfully. When you don’t choose the right primer or even skip priming, you may get into huge trouble – the displeasure of cracking, peeling or badly-stained paint.
So, if you are a new homeowner, DIY enthusiast or just someone:
you have stumbled upon the right article.
Before you dip the roller..
Discover the secrets of painting over plaster and find the answers to the most important questions. Then, get the perfect finish!
Do you know that a standard newly-plastered room may keep 1 ton of water? We guess you are surprised.
The fresh plaster not only contains large amounts of water, but it’s extremely absorbent and soaks up any new moisture interacting with its surface. This is often valid for the material it’s applied to. If you don’t take into account their porous nature and start painting directly onto wet plaster, you’ll run into many difficulties along the way.
Likewise, when you go with the most common paints, they form a vapour barrier on top of the plaster. Don’t opt for this route as these types of thick paint trap the moisture behind the plaster and prevent it from evaporating. In the worst-case scenario, the humidity will go through the tiniest cracks and foundation and wreak havoc in other parts of your home. It could be mould, efflorescence (salting), an uneven and patchy look, hairline cracks, smells like something is moist…. the list goes on…
So, don’t allow all your painting efforts to be in vain. To play safe and wait is the best thing you can do. And unlike general recommendations to start painting in a week or two, always wait a bit longer until the plaster is perfectly dry. Otherwise, you’ll be flushing money down the drain.
In the first place, if you need recommendations on the curing time, consult with the handyman who handles the plasterwork in advance. But generally, the ceiling or the wall will be ready for painting a month after plastering.
Yet, the plaster drying time could last even longer. The reasons could be indoor and outdoor humidity, excessive condensation, temperature changes, the multi-coat plaster system, ventilation, etc. Also, wet spaces like kitchens, laundries and bathrooms can create and keep moisture, so they often need more time to dry thoroughly.
Before embarking on the task, mind that there are certain seasons favourable for painting. Because of the mild temperatures and comparatively low outside humidity, we recommend doing the painting in spring. These are excellent opportunities to “spring” yourself into interior painting.
You can read even more on this topic by checking our post on how long to leave new plaster before painting.
If you are not sure whether to keep going or wait a bit longer to let the plaster dry, stick to these tips:
The best way to dry plaster is always the natural way. Not surprisingly, this is often a slow and tedious process. Though, if you want to speed up the drying process, try the following steps:
Find a professional painter to take care of your painting job.
If you want to admire your work, applying a plaster priming sealer is a MUST! Priming saves paint. It also offers an added bonus: prolonged drying time allowing the plaster to withstand the test of time.
Not surprisingly, there are a ton of alternative primers of new plaster. But selecting a primer can often be more complicated than you think. That’s why we created a brief comparison between home-made mist coat mix and trade paint for bare plaster. Have a look and be sure you made an informed decision!
It’s tempting to start the painting job as soon as possible. The truth, however, is that you need at least a couple of days to prepare for the job.
Start by setting up some free space, removing or taping all fixtures, hardware and furniture. Also, devote some comfortable and loose clothes to the painting project. Ensure that all necessary equipment and products are at a hand’s reach so the smooth painting process won’t be interrupted by something you forgot to deliver.
Instead of writing everything down, we’ve gathered all necessary tools and safety equipment in a single checklist.
You can just go on and paint. But the final result will reveal the truth if there are some scratches or lumps marked by accident. That’s why you need to assess the ceiling and/or wall surface first: is it rough or smooth?
Hire professional plastering services to have a surface sleek on the touch and ready for priming. In case you spot an uneven surface or a few bumps stuck to the surface, then you’ll need a piece of sandpaper to help your paint job.
Mind that sanding plaster ceiling and walls will be a messy and time-consuming part of the overall project. But its primary goal is vital for the finish: to assure better adherence between the plaster and the paint. If you have muscles to do the sanding job on your own, rent a stable scaffolding, put on a dust mask and get down to the task. Otherwise, book a reliable handyman to deal with the dirty job instead of you.
If you’re not afraid of dripping paint, try priming (sealing) the surface with a diluted first coat of paint. It is known as “mist coat” – a decent non-vinyl, watered-down emulsion preventing the paint from drying too fast and turning the plaster into a dust-free, breathable, and non-porous surface. It offers an extra measure of assurance that the surface will better bond to the paint. And together with proper painting technique application, you’ll receive a uniform, professional look from the first time.
Eventually, it’s all you are looking for!
While the brand is up to your preference, basic paint ingredients are crucial for reducing the surface suction. The most important thing is to check the label for vinyl substances. Make sure the paint is non-vinyl, only acrylic.
When shopping, opt for relatively inexpensive emulsion paint as you are going to add water anyway. Also, a smooth plaster will benefit from a white, off-white matt or close in colour to the top coat. It will provide a better base for a clear finish.
The BAD choice of paint
Using vinyl and silk paints on new plaster. They are less porous and don’t soak up as fast as the matt. Remember that the new plaster needs to breathe under the paint. These types of paints do exactly the opposite – trap the moisture behind the paint, so often their application ends up peeling or cracking.
Using Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) primer. Good painting practices deny the application of PVA over plaster. Unlike the matt emulsion paint for new plaster, the PVA application may result in bond loss and plenty of hairline cracks in the short term.
Pour one part of the paint in a bucket/kettle and mix it with clean, cold water.
In the case of standard mid-thick paint, the following formula should work well: Mist coat mix = 20% water : 80% paint. Next, thoroughly stir with a wooden stick or use a drill attachment to achieve a homogenous mixture. Once you have all prepared and the plaster is dry, dip a brush in the emulsion and test it on a small area. If the plastered surface soaks up the liquid too quickly, don’t hesitate to add more water and apply again.
The paint is still thick? Then, the mist coat formula can be even more elastic so you can mould and shape it according to the specific fresh plaster and paint properties. In such a case, 1 : 1 water to paint mixing ratio would form a more diluted substance going better through the porous plaster. It will seal it providing a good surface ready for priming.
The rolling technique is the fastest and most efficient way to paint large areas like ceilings and walls.
You’ll cover a greater area more rapidly and it’s better than using a paint brush. But when you have to deal with hard-to-reach spots, edges, skirting boards or door frames, prepare a small brush and dip it in the watered-down emulsion to gently cover all of them. To avoid putting pesky paint dots everywhere, choose the right (and not the cheapest) roller nap that doesn’t splash paint. For superb results, use a medium 3/8″ nap roller cover. Also, for large ceilings and extra-tall walls, the wider the roller, the better. This will ensure a more straightforward application.
Once you have prepared the new plaster emulsion, place the paint roller into the tray and ensure it’s wet enough, half- and evenly-loaded. Start priming by doing zig-zag roller strokes forming M or W patterns. This is a proven painting technique allowing for an even finish and minimising the number of paint splashes. Take your time and spread the paint into smaller sections and apply a few strokes while overlapping each previous one. That’s how you continuously maintain a wet edge and a smooth surface without roller marks.
Tip: Lay thin coats of paint perpendicularly to the incoming natural light. You’ll have a better chance to notice any imperfections (such as built-up paint or skipped areas). Slow your roll and don’t press it too hard. Be warned that when your roller speed increases, blemishes are likely to appear as the fresh plaster soaks up liquids quickly.
As a whole, it’s possible that one layer is enough to seal the plaster. But it won’t be a stretched truth if we tell you that the first coat is soaked up in seconds after application. So, if the paint is sinking into the freshly-plastered wall or ceiling in no time, a second coat of the diluted emulsion would be a splendid idea. Go on only if 24 h have passed after the first coat of paint on the newly-plastered surface.
Also, a second “mist coat” layer will be necessary when you find any little dips in the surface. We remind you that the paint is not the right tool to use when you want to fill in even the tiniest holes. So, always use a suitable filler. Then, don’t forget to repeat the sanding and mist-coating process locally.
Once the primer is applied, you have 80% of the job done. Allow the mist coat layers to dry overnight, and you will be ready to apply the beautiful top coat. For fast results, allow maximum ventilation. Leave at least one door or window open and ensure the weather forecast doesn’t announce a rainy day onwards.
To ensure perfect coverage, you may want to give the surface a layer of undercoat prior to painting. It will provide a smooth and even base to work with when applying the top coat.
Now, stick to these tips & tricks about the walls and ceiling paint finish and success will follow:
Now we’re sure your interior looks fantastic! Feel free to share your experience with painting new plaster!
Image source: photography33/depositphotos.com