Preparing walls and ceiling for painting

7 Nov 2006
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United Kingdom
(Questions highlighted in bold)

I'm the the process of redecorating a bedroom. Originally the walls were papered and the ceiling was papered with lining paper and painted over. The lining paper wasn't put up properly as the seams overlapped and the paint was uneven with bits flaking off.

I have removed the wallpaper and lining paper from the ceiling. There were a couple of patches of mildew on the wall (exterior wall) which I removed with vinegar solution. Is this any cause for concern? The room is the coldest in the house due to the large exterior wall.

I have steamed, scraped and sugar soaped most of the walls to get the paste off. However, I can see that there was a picture rail fitted which the previous house owners forcefully ripped out, which has caused chunks of plaster to be ripped off the wall at the points where the picture rail was nailed. The holes (some as large as 10cm wide) are filled in with (what appears to be) standard polyfilla and many filled holes are not flush with the wall surface.

The polyfilla in the larger holes is not solid, it can be easily scraped off with the wallpaper stripping knife. I'd like to remove the filler and use something more suitable. I have bought some "finishing skim polyfilla". Is this sufficiently different to standard polyfilla in that it will leave a smooth solid finish? Will I need to seal these areas with a primer before painting?

The nails from the picture rail are rusty and hammered into the wall (pic 2). I want to remove these as most of them protrude from the wall surface. How can I remove these with minimal plaster damage?

There is one section of wall (Pic 1) which is bulging out thanks to the picture rail ripping. The middle section has been filled with polyfilla but the surrounding plaster is loose and cracking. The plaster is about 3mm thick. I want to remove the filler and the loose plaster and repair the whole section. Would plaster skim be sufficient? If so which type?

The ceiling has some long cracks about 6mm wide which have been filled in (Pic 3). There are still some cracks showing as I presume a flexible filler was not used. I have removed the filler from one of the cracks (Pic 5)as it was loose. There is a very small amount of movement when I press against the ceiling on either side of the crack. I plan to line the edges of the crack with some PVA sealer and then fill with decorator's caulk. There is black dust in the ceiling cracks around the edges of the ceiling, I'm assuming this is from the attic above. Would the PVA and caulk do the job?

There is a small section of ceiling that looks like cement and there are cracks around it (Pic 4). Can I paint straight on top of this?

Apart from the above issues, the ceiling is clean and flat, so I don't think it would be beneficial to re-paper it as the cracks would show through anyway.

There is some gloss paint on the walls, next to the skirting board and under the area where the picture rail used to be, as they didn't mask the walls before painting. I'm guessing that emulsion will not adhere to this paint particularly well, I intend to use a chemical paint stripper to get this off the walls. Would this be wise?

Any advice is appreciated, thanks :)
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Great post charlie...shame some of the others dont go into details like that and have pix..

Right first things have done a lot of very good prep work by the looks and sounds of things...but it reads like you going to cut corners at the end.

Addressing the questions first...

1...the long as it wasnt caused by penetrating damp you shouldnt have a problem but you could always put expanded polysterene on the wall followed by a couple of layers of lining paper.

2...filler, finishing skim may cause you problems as it is intended for thin coats...not deep holes, theres nothing wrong with using traditional it up in layers then finish it off with a thin layer using a wet filling knife..youll still have to do a bit of rubbing down though

3...nails//get somethjing behind them and prise them up..them pull them out with a claw hammer or pliers..

4...dig the worst of the bulging filler off til its level or just below the surface then skim over making sure you feather it out by about 5 inches or so...get yourself some gyproc easifil from b an q..its cheap and smooth (sounds like me actually!)

5...pva and caulk wont work..caulk shrinks, especially when used deep.
rack out the cracks then coat with a 50/50 mix of pva and water then fill with ordinary filler....the black dust might be the old plaster.

5/6...personally id forget about painting anything over anything at the moment...those walls reall do need fact double lining then painting.

I would line the ceiling with linen backing lining paper then ordinary 100 grade because of the cracks

I would aslo think about putting coving up over that dodgy ceiling might always have a problem there otherwise.

If you have any more of those rusty red stains like in picture 1 give them a coat of oil based undercoat...they may easily bleed through.

You may think those walls look ok but beleive me wait til you paint them...they will look awful...every patched up repair will stand out like a blind cobblers thumb.

You have put a lot of time and effort into getting it up to this stage and the walls have come up really well because of it

But dont run to the finish line at this stage...

Dont take my word for it..others on here will probably say the same

Except growler who disagrees with everyone! ;)
Another informative post and excellent advice from Zamps :D

I will add my two pence worth into the mix as well. :D

I see you have done your fair share of prep, and not afraid of hard work, and you will have a fair bit more to do, but if will pay off in the end.

Regards the picture rail holes... this is very common, but with time and effort they can be repaired.
You could use some plaster, but when I have come across these, I find ordinary tetrion filler does the trick.

The best way I find to sort this out is, is to fill the big holes first, build the filler up, its better doing it in stages rather than sticking a big lump of filler in the hole.

When your first lot of filler is dry and you have sanded it down, then brush on some diluted PVA over the filler, when dry, then you will probabaly have to fill again, keep doing this till filler is flush with the wall, but inbetween dab a bit of diluted PVA onto it, this will stop the filler crumbling when you start to line over it.

When the holes are finished, then just lightly spread the filler over where the grooves are left from the indent of the picture rail, you might have to go round the whole room, again this will give it a flush appearance on the wall, you dont want the indents of the old rail showing through.

When you have done this and its dried, again, brush on some diluted PVA all over the filled areas.

I would suggest you do the same if your going to fill the big cracks on your ceiling and walls.
If you seal the lumps of filler with the PVA, then when your paste reacts against the filler under your lining paper, you will see crumbling, or the filler breaking away, and it will leave a mess under the LP.

I think LP is the best for you, but you still have to do a good bit of prep beforehand.

I did a house the walls very much like yours, and tbh very worse, but I lined every room, there was so much filler in some of the rooms, that it would have been better off being plastered, but they didnt want that. :rolleyes:

I'll try and post a pic (if I can remember how its done) lol, showing loads of filler on a wall, pvaed, then lined.
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Wow, thanks so much Zampa and spice for your detailed responses. You've given me a lot to think about now :)

I'm glad that you can see the results of the work put in so far. I have indeed spent many hours getting the paste off the wall, a sharp wallpaper scraper with steaming works wonders, then washing down with sugar soap and rinsing and replacing the dirty water regularly. I am going to do a final wash + tack cloth wipe after doing the wall repairs.

The ceiling hasn't been cleaned yet by the way, that's another few hours of work!

I must admit that I was hoping to avoid the LP, but you have convinced me to do it now. It just saddens me that I'll be putting paste back up on walls that I've worked hard to get off! My main concern is the gaps between LP pieces, and possible shrinkage causing a larger gap to appear. Guess I could rub some filler into these gaps then sand down as some people have recommended here?

Would I get away with single lining the walls if I used a higher grade, for example 1400? If not, then what grades should I use for double lining?

Thanks for the filler tips, I think it would be wise to buy this in bulk powder form as it would be more economical. As I'll be applying it in layers and waiting for it to dry each time, can I mix up a quantity and then store it in an airtight container without it drying out?

I like the idea of insulating the exterior wall with expanded polystyrene before lining it, I'll look into this.

I'd also like to use coving if I can find something narrow enough - something minimalistic.

Re-skimming the walls and ceiling is out of my budget unfortunately, and I have other rooms to do after this!

spice said:
If you seal the lumps of filler with the PVA...

I think you mean don't seal ;)

Cheers :)
I'll be putting paste back up on walls that I've worked hard to get off!

Dont worry about that...all your hard work will not be in vain...a lot of people think lining will cover wont, all that prep work you have done so far will pay off when you line it.

Regards preference would be double line with 800 grade...but double lining you will also help solve the problem of shirkage on the joints

Plus the first layer will be good practice for you.

You should double line over the expanded polysterene anyway because the wall tends to be 'soft'amd easily dented.

If you do have a problem with gaps in the paper fill them after you have given them the first coat of paint...filler on top of lining paper isnt a good idea because it can cause the seams to when you rub it down you may scratch the lining paper

Id definatly think about linen backed for the ceiling to help hold those cracks in place.

Make sure you size the walls first if you line...try pouring a small drop of emulsion in with the will allow you to see where your going.
I've been looking around and I can't find linen backed lining paper anywhere. Where can I find this stuff? UPDATE - have just found the "Wallrock 55 and 75" fibre liners here. Is this any good?

Would this polystrene veneer (is this the same as expanded polystyrene?) from Wickes be suitable for the exterior wall?

And the walls lined with two layers of one of these: 800 Lining Paper

When I was washing the ceiling, I noticed that some of the cracks are not level, i.e. one side of the crack sags down about half a mm in relation to the other side. I read a post here mentioning polystyrene veneer on the ceiling to help mask the cracks. I be using the linen backed paper as recommended (if I can find it!), but I'd like to know how the polystyrene compares (I'm guessing the poly won't be as strong).

Thanks :)
Any ideas guys? Going to buy the lining paper and polystyrene this week :)
I have a problem I hope someone can advise on. I have a condensation problem in our bathroom. I dried out the walls using a heater & once they were completely dry,painted while the heater was still on. The paint dried perfectly, yet 2days later the paint was wet in one corner, floor to ceiling & about a foot above the skirting all along the wall. Possible causes please.

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