Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Painting Plaster walls - what to look out for and do?
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Painting Plaster walls - what to look out for and do?

I am painting plaster walls in a house from 1963. I have patched the plaster nail holes the best I can, but I am wondering if it is worth sanding all the walls before I paint. Would it be worth the time? Would it make it worse because of unevenness?
This is my first house and first time that I am actually really really taking my time to paint right the first time.

Re: Painting Plaster walls - what to look out for and do?

Some of the walls have paint drippings and such, which I don't like - but maybe that is the nature of the game.

Re: Painting Plaster walls - what to look out for and do?

Your finished job cannot look better than what is underneath it, so I'd spend the extra time to sand out any surface unevenness. Drips are best handled by cutting or scr-aping them down flush then applying a thin coat of sheetrock mud to handle the inevitable nicks, then sanding and painting.

Unless you're interested in spending a lot of time on this, you might want to do one wall as minimally as you think you can get by with, then paint it and see what it looks like. Use some leftover or cheap paint of similar color and sheen for this, save the good stuff for the real thing. If you like it when it's done you know what to do- if you don't add more effort to prep and try again. There's no perfect wall, but there is a point of overkill where the excess effort no longer pays off. Where that point is varies with the viewer and rarely coincides between two people, especially of one of them is being paid a set amount to do the job!


Re: Painting Plaster walls - what to look out for and do?

If this 1963 house still has oil paint on the walls, sanding might help it somewhat, as oil paint will dust up . However, gummy latex paint will just clog up your sandpaper. It might be able to help lessen the high spots left by past drips.

The problem with just trying to spot patch areas is that you make a perfectly smooth spots out in the middle of past heavy roller texture. This looks terrible, especially if higher sheen paints are used. I would sometimes spot prime these areas using an old,raggy roller cover in an attempt to purposely leave a similar roller texture.

Also, don't merely sand such spots, but after sanding, take a wet sponge and go around the edge of the patch in an effort to blend the smooth new area into the older heavy texture. I too like to use drywall compound to patch. Drywall compound, even after dry, will re-dissolve, allowing such blending. Pre-mixed vinyl based spackling compounds will not re-dissolve once dry.

If you are crazy enough, you can put a skim coat of drywall compound on the entire wall surface. this is a time consuming, messy, dusty process, but will give you like new smooth walls. They then must be primed and painted.

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