How To Paint New Plaster Walls And Ceilings

paint new plaster

Painting new plaster is straight forward when you know what to do.

In nutshell..

1. Make sure the plaster is good and dry.

2. Get some water based emulsion (or laytex if you are in the states!), white is usually the best deal.

3. Add about 50% water to your paint and mix well.

4. Apply the watered down paint using a brush for the edges and a roller for everywhere else, (this is called a mist coat or primer).

5. Once dry, your plaster is now ready to be painted with normal emulsion.

The long version of how to paint plaster..

paint new plaster


First make sure the plaster is dry. It can take a couple of days to a couple of weeks for new plaster to dry out properly depending on what its covering ie plaster board wall or exterior block wall. If you are unsure whether the new plaster is dry enough to paint over then rent a moisture meter from your local hire centre. Use the moisture meter on a few different areas before painting new plaster and if you get the green light its good to go.

There are products you can buy that are designed for painting new plaster as a primer. You can use these if you like but there is no need. With painting new plaster, because it is so dry, if you paint a standard water based emulsion straight on then the new plaster will suck the moisture from the paint and the paint will then flake off the wall. To combat this get a water based paint and water it down about 50%, you don’t need to be exact with your measurements, the more water the better. Make sure to mix the watered paint well. Before you start painting new plaster make sure to put down plenty of drop sheets at the foot of the wall. A drop sheet is any kind of covering that is used to protect floors furniture etc and catch over spray from a brush or roller.

paint new plaster

Before painting new plaster, if you look closely you should find little bits of excess plaster here and there in the form of blobs or drops, they are hard to see but will stand out when the wall is painted so using a paint scraper knock off all the bits you can find.

Using a brush first, cut in the wall with the watered down paint.

Cutting in essentially means to go neatly around the borders of the new plaster, or any other type of surface, using a brush.

Once the new plaster has been ‘cut in’ use a paint roller and tray to roll out the rest of the wall. You should use a medium to tight roller sleeve for this. As the paint is quite watery you will get a lot of over spray from the roller, so go slowly and make sure to work the paint into the new plaster by rolling backwards and forwards over the same area before reloading the roller with paint again.

This first coat is sometimes called a mist coat or primer. Once the paint has dried your new plaster wall is ready to be filled. Rarely will you find new plaster that doesn’t need a little filling here and there. Mix up some filler and using filling knives apply it to any cracks or holes that you can find. Once the filler has dried, sand it back using some sandpaper and touch it up again with the watered down paint. It’s best to use watered down paint on filler because like the new plaster, filler can suck the moisture from the paint too.

When the filler touch ups have dried, shouldn’t take too long, your new plaster wall is ready for its finish coats. Using the same technique used to prime the new plaster, apply the paint to the wall. It should take between 2 or 3 coats.

What paint to use? It really depends on your budget and you get what you pay for with paint. If you use a cheap paint it will take more coats to cover and won’t last as long as a more expensive paint. With a good quality paint it will take less coats and also last longer and look better. Have a look here for the best options

If the new plaster wall in question has been plastered with a lime plaster then you must use a breathable paint, lime plaster acts like a sponge with moisture in the air and needs to breathe. Most modern paints form a skin over the surface of the wall and if used on a lime plaster wall it will prevent moisture absorption and cause the paint to bubble, crack and flake away. If you have a lime plastered wall that has been painted with a modern paint then you will need to remove all the paint and repaint with a lime based or breathable paint. Lime plaster will be found mainly on older buildings.


Thats it, if you follow these instructions for painting new plaster, it will turn out great!

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