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How to level plaster walls before painting?

Hi all,

We just bought our first house (built in 1938), and the walls are plaster and lath.

We want to paint the interior, but some of the walls are a bit 'wavy' in spots. What is the best way to get the walls more level? Is it by sanding down the plaster in the spots sticking out? Or is it better to fill in the rest of the wall with more plaster?

Is this something that is necessary to do before we paint? Any input would be appreciated. This is our first house and we want to do things right.

Thanks so much!


Hank Bauer
Re: How to level plaster walls before painting?

First you must determine if the cause of the high areas are a workmanship problem or is it plaster separating from the lath,or at one time was the plaster finish a heavy texture?
If the existing substrate is solid and lath is not failing you can plumb the walls with plaster.
At each corner place a pin or nail pull a string line from corners say lower left to upper right tight than place a shim under the string at each corner start at 1/8 inch if string touches the wall proceed to 3/16 inch shim than 1/4 inch and this would be the maxi would recommend building up plaster on a wall.
Now check the two remaining corners the same as above.
Lets say the 1/8 inch clears all high spots now place a dot of wet plaster along the string line say at every three feet that just clears the string this is called dotting and used as a reference point for the wallplane.
Fill entire wall atrea to dots using a straight edge ( ROD ) also dots will become part of the plaster wall surface.
Apply a very thin skim coat and your walls will be plumb and straight.
For a DIY job the materials would coat $ 2.49 per Sq / Ft.
The material i would use for this is Master of Plaster it will bond to a painted surface.

Re: How to level plaster walls before painting?

All plaster walls tend to be a little unlevel. We own a 97 year old apartment building with 20 units. We stripped off multiple layers of wallpaper, cleaned the walls, primed and painted. We did not try to level any walls - way to much work. Original plaster walls that are a little unlevel also add a little ambience to your living quarters. A 3/8 in nap roller will easily cover your walls with paint.

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