How should I Be Painting New Plaster?
I often get emails from DIYers and inexperienced people asking me questions, and how do I paint new plaster is a plastering question I get asked frequently. I figured that this is a subject I would cover here on Plasterers News, so I can now direct the questions to this page from this day forwards. How do I paint fresh plaster is a question that gets asked a lot on lots of forums all over the internet, and it has been asked numerous times on The Plasterers Forum as well. So I am pretty sure that this post is going to be very popular and helpful.
When I was on the tools full time (a long time ago now), I used to have a little postcard-sized “how to” sheet that I would give to my customers at the end of the job, and for me, this was another way for them to get my number and a lot of the time this card would end up on the fridge and act as another flyer for their friends and family to have when they needed a plasterer.
On this card, I would explain painting new plaster, and also I used to have a name and contact details of a painter I used to use. This painter was a great painter (had to be to get over my work), and every time he got work off that postcard, I would get a nice kickback, so it was a win-win situation for everybody.
As with running any business, you need to stay one step ahead of the game, and using this painting new plaster postcard would win me more work and kept the painter busy. However, not only that, it was a great way to build a reputation that is still very much intact to this very day. Going that extra step makes people remember you, and that is where the repeat business comes from, and all plasterers know repeat business is where the money is.
So How Do You Paint New Plaster?
One of the common suggestions and I will go as far as to say myths, is that the walls need to be pva’d before you paint them…
I don’t recommend this and have never in all my years seen this being done!! So I would not recommend it at all. You may need to lightly sand the walls before you start painting to give the paint something to key into as some plasterers over polish the walls, and the paint slides around the plaster and does not soak in, but make sure that your walls are clean and free from dust as the paint will stick to the dust and not the plaster.
In the photo below, this is what plaster looks like before it is properly dry…
You don’t want to be painting new plaster until it is fully dried.
A properly finished plastered wall should be a matt finish and not shine…
Plaster is ready to paint when it has all dried out and gone a light pink colour.
Most of the time, within a couple of days, it is good to paint and waiting for the newly plastered wall or ceiling to be completely dry. This is if the plaster used was British Gypsums Multi Finish, some plasters are white, but you can clearly see when plaster is dry. Furthermore, the drying time can vary from property to property depending on the substrate’s suction or whether the property has any drafts or heating on.
Painting over wet plaster is not a good idea, and although people do it, I would never recommend it and the only time you should paint on newly plastered walls or ceilings is when it is totally dry.
How To Make a Mist Coat Paint
The first coat of emulsion paint you put on any fresh plaster should be what is known as a mist coat, and this mist coat is to highlight any blemishes or misses in the plaster. Once this mist coat has been applied, you can go filling and sanding anything that stands out and needs putting right.
At this mist coat stage, I like to get as bright a light as possible shining all over the walls or ceilings to highlight any blemishes. This is more preparation, but I do it to make sure I am totally happy with how it looks under these intense light conditions. This is one of the best ways to get a near-perfect finish that gives you the professional finish look you will be after.
The photo below shows a wall drying out, and the light parts of the wall are the colour that it is when the new plaster is dry, and the dark patches are damp patches that will need more time to dry out properly. Depending on the conditions, plaster takes anything from a couple of days to a week or two to dry out.
The mist coat is usually the cheapest watered down emulsion paint you can find, and then you water that white emulsion paint down a bit. The amount you water this paint down to varies, but I like to do a 1 to 1 mix as this is what has worked best for me, but other painters recommend adding 10% water to the emulsion paint.
The mist coat is there to seal the plaster, and the added water controls the suction of the wall. If you don’t add any water, the paint won’t absorb into the plastered surface, which will likely cause the paint to peel in the future.
You can also buy bare plaster paint from the likes Screwfix or amazon, and this is already pre-mixed and is perfect for a mist coat and an ideal paint for a freshly plastered wall.
This miss coat then gets rolled onto the wall like you would be painting anything else. Make sure that you roll out any lines and whatnot, as the dry plaster will pull the moisture out of the paint and will dry very quickly, and any lines left in the paint will need sanding.
The mist coat being diluted paint gets drawn into the wall and, in essence, seals the wall. If you use undiluted paint, the moisture will get drawn out quickly, and the paint would sit on top of the plaster rather than become part of the plaster if that makes sense. You may have seen in the past paint just peeling off walls in big sheets, and it looks like fresh plaster underneath, and nine times out of ten, this is because the plaster was painted without a mist coat.
I never recommend using one coat paints as I find the extra coats of paint on a wall or ceiling, the better it looks. All these one coat products never, in my opinion, get the high-quality finish I am after, and in the end, if you are spending all that money getting things plastered, you may as well go that extra mile and finish them to a high standard.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation is The Key
I enjoy painting new plaster, but I have a little OCD when it comes to finishing, and I like everything to be perfect, and any imperfections are sorted out at the mist coat stage. I hate seeing blemishes in painted walls, and some of the plastering I have seen in my time needs an excellent painter to straighten them out. Spend your time getting this right, and you will have a first-class finish, and you won’t be lying in bed staring at a slight mark in your ceiling that will drive you crazy.
If you have any questions about painting new plaster, then please head over to www.plasterersforum.com for more information and advice.
Thanks to Riviera Plastering for letting us use their photos on this page about painting new plaster.