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Repairing verses painting or wallpaper on plaster paris walls

Hi folks, and I'll be right up front I want to thank anyone who can help me with this issue. Our house was built in 1917 and the walls are plaster paris, its time for something to be done with them. Without going all out and doing it the correct way I was wondering can you paint plaster paris and if so what would I need to do. Someone years ago put wallpaper over them which is peeling off, can I just pull that off and replace with more wallpaper and if so are there any things I should do first. There are alot of cracks here and there and hairline cracks. I appreciate any help or information on this. Trying to determine which is best route to go painting or wallpaper. Thanks Dara

Re: Repairing verses painting or wallpaper on plaster paris walls

I doubt very much that you have plaster of paris on your walls. Plaster of paris is extremely fast setting, soft and very absorbant of water. Potters use it to remove excess water out of their clay by setting the clay on a flat sheet of PofP.

You probably have a somewhat modern mixture of plaster which normally allows wallpaper to be removed relatively easily as it is hard and not overly water absorbent.

Plaster was often wallpapered over without having been painted. Because it is so hard and slick, it was often "sized". Sizing was just a thinned down paste which would give the wall extra tack to assist in the wallpapers adhesion to the wall.

If you remove the paper and want to go to paint, you must make sure to wash all the old paste off the wall first. You can then prime the wall with an acrylic plaster/drywall primer. Of course, any neccessary patching and cracks should be made first.

If you have many hairline cracks, you might consider hanging a plain paintable canvas on the wall first, and then painting. This was done commonly back when your house was built. Canvas would control the hairline cracks, and over the course of many years and coats of paint, the entire surface of canvas could be cleanly pulled down and the wall renewed with new canvas.

Certainly, new wallpaper is also an option. Again, if cracks are of concern, there are many commercial grade canvases in many designs and textures which would help control the cracks and provide easy maintenance for years. Canvases also have the ability to be pulled down dry, leaving only the paste to be removed. It can be hung over traditional "size", or the walls treated with one of the water soluble pre-wallpaper sealers on the market. Oil base sealers also make excellant wallpaper sealers.

As to wallpaper or canvas adhesive, follow the manufacturers' recommendation. Most papers now-a-days are hung with clear cellulose paste or are pre-pasted with cellulose paste. Canvases are hung with much heavier bodied pastes because of the textured nature of the back of the canvas.

Overall, painting is by far the less expensive alternative, especially in the short run. Wallpapers can be pricey and require quite a bit more effort and talent to apply. They also require much more effort to remove down the road.

Re: Repairing verses painting or wallpaper on plaster paris walls

Most plaster finishes have Gypsum or moulding plaster as part of the finish white coat. ( Plaster of Paris )
Plaster of Paris is also used for cornish and rosettes when run in place.
Also can be used for casting plaster objects.
As for wall repairs after paper is removed you could use a veneer plaster to skim the existing wall smooth and repair cracks at the same time.
For this I use a product called Master of Plaster works very well.
If you want to go with a wall covering you may consider a product like Plaster in a roll.
I have also used the Gauze that is used for plaster cast for a broken leg work extremly well for crack repair than veneer over it.

Re: Repairing verses painting or wallpaper on plaster paris walls

Thank you both for replying so promptly, the information is very helpful.Sorry I didn't know the proper name for the plaster walls we did pull the wallpaper off today some came off easily some not so easy had to sc**** it off.
The plaster has little fines hairs in it and also wooden lathes behind it, I don't know what you would call that.

We have decided to paint it but first fixing some of the cracks and hairlines, I'm hoping to give it some kind of textured look. As you can tell I am new at this.... our home as been in the family for years and the original home was built in 1917 and the added on to about 40 years ago using your regular drywall for walls thank goodness.

The room we are trying to fix up is 12x17 someone suggested covering the plaster with drywall which I thought was a great idea but because of all the moldings upper and lower that would be hard to do and expensive. I appreciate any suggestions and again thank you. Dara

Re: Repairing verses painting or wallpaper on plaster paris walls

Hi, regarding your post Clarence I would use master of plaster to fix cracks and hairlines ...and would I put a skim coat over the whole wall with mop?...than can I paint over that product also would I still need a primer before the base coat.

Re: Repairing verses painting or wallpaper on plaster paris walls

If master of plaster is used NO bonding agent is rerquired at any point.
Also note that the max thickness added to the existing wall would not 3/32 " typical and never should exceed 1/8 "
This material can be troweled smooth by a DIY person.
If you don't want a very smooth finish than just trowel the second base coat it will be as smooth as most conventional plaster finishes.
I would also add that over wood lath with horse hair plaster the M.O.P. is the best product to use.
If any of the existing plaster is detached from the wood lath check Big Wallys plaster Magic, it works great I have also used this product many times in the past 25 yrs.

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