Best prep and paint for a ceiling on paper, in one coat?

24 Jul 2015
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United Kingdom
The lounge ceiling looks like there is a vaguely textured paper and probably hasn't been painted for 30 years; its white, if a little grey with age, with no horrid spots

There is coving around the edge which looks more in need of refreshment that the ceiling

I don't want to stress the paper too much in case it decides to peel off and I hate painting ceilings. I was going to dust the ceiling for cobwebs but not wash it. What paint would you recommend that maybe I will get away with one coat only on the paper.

I was thinking about maybe washing the coving with sugarsoap as it looks dirty. I was thinking maybe we might need to do 2 coats on the coving, if the first coat does not fill the hair line gaps in the joins filler might be required. WHat is the best filler for fine polystyrene coving cracks?
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With the filling of the cracks

Ideal way to wash the coving as you said.
Painting them? Two coats, but slightly water down the first coat, and then paint over as normal.

If you're concerned the paper will bubble and peel off, try painting a corner? And see the reaction first maybe?
If you're happy with the result, then, I'd recommend a slightly watered down PVA layer, and once dried paint over it.
If you do paint the papered ceiling, and a bubble/even a massive bubble appears - don't worry.

Don't mess about with it. Leave it to dry THOROUGHLY, and the bubble should disappear on it's own.
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There are no satisfactory half-measures on this one, really.

Ceilings which haven't been painted for 30 years will be pretty dirty and need at least two coats of quality emulsion to look anything like. One coat will make it look patchy. Two should result in pristine. There is no such thing as a good 'one coat' paint - ignore the adverts.

Now, if you think that the paper is too fragile and may all just peel off, try a small area as advised above. If it brings the paper off, that's fine. It is obviously breaking up/degenerating and needs removing. Remove it. (Half a day's work - buckets of warm water, sponge and scraper). You may find the ceiling under neath is absolutely fine to paint, or you may find it is like the moon's surface. If so, get it re-skimmed (half a day's work for a good plasterer) and then paint. Or, if you really want a textured paper on it, pay a decorator to apply one (one day's work).

Seriously. You will be glad you invested the time and money at this stage, as you will not need to do anything more to it in the future (not for decades, anyway).

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