A Complete Guide to Painting Plaster Walls

Over the past century, North Shore homes have been built with plaster interior wall. These beautiful walls are still found in many homes, from antique mansions and old country cottages. Most modern homeowners know about drywall and sheetrock but not plaster. This guide will answer your questions regarding painting plaster walls.

How do you paint plaster walls?

Some classic homes have perfectly intact plaster walls that are hidden by peeling paint or dated wallpaper. You can use the same tools you’d use to paint sheetrock on these walls! You can paint plaster walls to make them look fantastic, whether you are doing a restoration or a modern style.

If you want to paint plaster, make sure that the preparation work is done properly.

Prepare Plastered Walls to Paint

Safety tip: Many older house paints are lead-based. Wear eye protection and a respiratory mask when sanding old paints.

Remove Old Paint

Remove any old paint or plaster coverings before you begin painting. You can remove old paint in two different ways.

  • Paint scrapers and sandpaper for chipped or peeling paint.
  • Chemical Strippers: For paints that are relatively intact.

Patch and Repair Plaster

After you’ve stripped the walls down to bare drywall, you will need to repair any old cracks or damage. It’s a tedious process, but one that is crucial. Plaster walls can be unforgiving and will spread any cracks left unattended.

Filling minor cracks with caulk that can be painted is an option. The caulk is flexible and will not cause the crack to reappear. Patching larger holes or cracks caused by old bolts, as well as longer ones should be done in the same way you would drywall. The goal is to achieve a smooth surface without visible cracks or dents.

Start by blending in any new patches of plaster or old plaster using rough grit paper. After the surface has been roughly leveled, use high-grit sandpapers on the surface to smooth it out and prepare the surface for primer.

What is the best primer to use on plaster walls?

Primers of high quality are required for plaster walls, as they are more susceptible to moisture than drywall. For old walls, oil-based primers will work best. They are superior at blocking stains and will prevent any old stains bleeding through into new paint. They are great for sealing out moisture which is a problem with old plaster walls. Oil primers are most useful for their ability to seal and fill the plaster surface.

Kilz primers, which are widely available in home improvement stores, are known for blocking stains. Sherwin Williams has durable primers that are specifically designed for plaster.

A tinted primer will make some bright colors look better, particularly reds and yellows. Paint shops and home improvement stores should be able to mix the correct primer if required by your paint.

What is the best finish to paint plaster walls? 

Plaster walls are available in a variety of lusters, from ultra-matte to high-gloss. Satin finishes are the most versatile for home applications. They combine the warmth and softness of matte or flat finishes with the easy cleaning of semi-gloss, gloss or glossy finishes. A softer finish complements lacquered or shiny enameled trim around the doors and ceilings of a Victorian-style home.

The flat or matte finish will be harder to clean, and show scuffs more easily than satin paint. However, the lightly textured surface can be useful in hiding small imperfections.

What type of paint can I use to cover plaster walls?

You can choose any color you like for your plaster walls!

After plaster walls have been patched up and primed properly, they are ready to take on any color or finish. Satin and eggshell finish are popular. Lighter, neutral shades like cream or white are also ideal for resale.

You should not use all-in one paint and primer. Labels are misleading as these paints don’t actually contain primer. They are instead blended together to produce a thicker and more durable coating.

Although durable paints are not bad, they won’t solve the two biggest problems that primers solve on old plaster. They will make paint adhere to the wall more effectively and prevent decades of stains from bleeding into the new paint.

Painting Plaster Walls

Now that your plaster is patched, the surface has been primed and smoothed. It’s time to paint.

The same techniques can be used to paint plaster as for drywall. Plaster walls can be notoriously paint-hungry, even with a primer. Spread a thin, even layer of your chosen paint using a roller in the open areas and brushes on trim and borders. Do not try to cover the entire wall at once. It is better to apply two or three thin coats than a thick one, as it will look more beautiful.

Paint schemes like rustic antiques and sponged paint are also possible on plaster walls.

Five Steps to a Perfect Paint Job on Plaster Walls

Plaster walls that are older than 10 years have likely been painted, wallpapered, and adorned with pictures by homeowners over the years. They require a longer preparation time for new paint than drywall. Follow these five steps for the best results and experience when painting:

Test your walls for lead

Lead was once a common paint additive. It’s important to ensure that you don’t have any lead paint on your walls. The reason is that lead exposure can pose serious health risks. Double-check your lead levels with a home-based test kit before taking any further steps.

Remove Old Paint

It’s safe to remove old paint if the lead test does not detect any contaminants on your wall plaster. Scrape away any paint chips, plaster or peelings to get a smooth surface. This process is made easier with a putty blade.

Fill in Cracks and Holes

Over time, plaster walls can develop holes, dents and cracks. A paintable caulk will do wonders for smaller cracks or holes! Repair larger areas of damage and dents by using mesh tape. Fill the area with compound.

Sand down the Walls

It is important to sand down the plaster wall in order to smooth out any imperfections that were not addressed by previous steps. This gives you a last chance to even out the wall before priming! To achieve the best results, use both coarser and finer sandpapers.

Use High Quality Primer

Once you are satisfied with the texture of your wall, you can apply a primer. Oil-based primers are best for old plaster walls. Oil primers prevent stains and other materials, such as water from showing through on plaster walls.
For more info about – plasterers in North Shore.