How to Paint an Old House

Our guide to creating a professional finish for your walls
Articles by Build It magazine
by Build It
5th August 2013

Watch any property developing TV programme and you’ll notice that whenever estate agents come in to value a newly renovated house, they scrutinise the paintwork and immediately point out botched areas. Here are a few tips to ensure a tip-top professional finish:

How to paint on fresh plaster

A freshly plastered wall soaks up paint like a sponge, so once it’s dry, make sure it’s smooth and dust-free, then seal it with a couple of coats of ‘size’ or primer (PVA and water ratio 1:4) before you apply an undercoat.

Or you can buy a ready-made plaster sealer, available from Dulux.

How to line plaster

Some people prefer to line bare plaster before they paint it, although it isn’t strictly necessary. If you do line the walls, hang the paper vertically and use a 1400 grade paper.

To make sure the joins aren’t visible, fill and finely sand them before you paint over them with white emulsion. You will still need to size bare plaster even if you intend to use lining paper.

How to paint on old plaster

You’ll need to make sure the surface is sound, with any cracks and holes filled and sanded back before painting – any paint with a sheen will magnify any defects, so if in doubt, use a matt emulsion.

You could use a lining paper to cover minor imperfections, but if the walls are in really poor shape, you should replaster.

How to paint on wallpaper

You can paint over old wallpaper, but make sure all the seams are glued down properly and it isn’t curling away from the wall at the top. It’s worth applying paint over a test area, including a seam, to see how it looks.

If it does need stripping completely, use a steam stripper and make sure you remove all of the adhesive.

How to remove textured wall coatings

Do not under any circumstances sand back textured wall coatings as the dust may be harmful.

Instead, use a wallpaper steamer to soak the coating and then strip it off – a very laborious process indeed. Or use a stripper such as Eco Solutions X-Tex Texture Coatings Remover, £20.98 for 2.5 litres.

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