How To Prepare Plaster Walls for Painting

Sure, you are now ready to refurbish your home interior with a new coat of paint. Yet are you sure that your plaster walls are ready for the first coat? This guide will help you get the best results in preparing the walls before painting.

The preparation will require the following: several sheets of medium-grit sandpaper, a plaster repair kit, a spatula and a filling knife, an electric drill, mortar trowel, a pack of drywall screws and washers, paint roller, and a cleaning kit with water, detergent, sponge and a heavy scrubbing brush. If the wall is too high for you to reach, you may set up a ladder or build a scaffold to make things easier.

Before beginning, lay out some newspapers on the floor to ensure that any debris is collected and you can easily clean up the workplace once the job is done. Remove any curtains, pictures or anything hanging on the wall, and clear the room free of furniture; if some furniture could not be moved, it is necessary to use tarps to cover the furniture, protecting them from dust or debris during wall work. Finally, using a mouth mask is a must, as it will safely protect you from inhaling dust while working.

  • Loose parts. If you see a portion of the wall sagging or feeling loose, reinforce such areas by using plaster washers and drywall screws to firmly secure the plaster surface to the wall.
  • Powdery surface. If the surface of the wall feels powdery to the touch, or even some particles falling away as you run your hand over the surface, it means that the wall is distempered and needs to be resealed with a stabilizing agent. Dust off the surface, and then apply the agent with a brush, before letting the surface dry.
  • Patching. Should you see any cracks or holes on the wall, purchase a plaster repair kit. As directed on the kit packaging, mix the ingredients with water in an old dish with a trowel. Using a trowel or a putty knife, patch and fill these cracks and holes with the mixture until no traces can be seen.
  • Once done with the wall repair work, you will have to wait for at least 24 hours for the patches to dry up. Afterwards, use the palm of your hand to see if the wall is completely dry, and if so, use some sandpaper to smoothen and even out the wall surface.
  • Cleanup. If the plaster wall is stained, you will have to clean up the wall by washing and rubbing it down, removing any stains and dirt present, including efflorescence resulting from crystallization while drying applied plaster. In cleaning, use a bucket full of water mixed with detergent, a brush and sponge; removing tough efflorescence will necessitate the use of rough burlap.
  • After washing, let the wall dry until it is ready to be prepared for a coat of primer, necessary if the wall would be painted over.
  • Pre-painting. All plaster walls require oil-based alkaline-resistant primer, as water-based primers tend to be easily absorbed by the wall. Use a paint roller to cover the whole wall with the primer. Once the wall is covered completely, wait for at least 24 hours until dry. If needed you may give the wall a second coating.

By following these methods, rest assured that once you apply the paint, a clean and well-prepared plaster wall will enhance the beauty and color of the coating, as well as improving the durability of the wall itself.


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