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Painting, decorating and home improvement tips blog

How to paint new plasterwork

Posted by Adrian
April 7th, 2012

Painting new plaster

When you have had either walls or ceilings plastered or skimmed over with plaster you need to know how to paint them correctly to get a long lasting finish.

Firstly ensure they are dry, this will depend on what plastering you have had done. One thing not to do, start painting colour samples on bare plaster, due to the brushes that come with the samples and how thick you apply the sample you will see this on your walls forever unless you rub them down, best to paint on some lining paper or plain white paper, you can then move it around the room and see the colour in different lights. There is a previous post about this Colour samples and testers.

To Paint new plasterwork

Firstly get some sandpaper, not too course, as you don’t want to ruin the new plaster, around 120 grit and lightly rub over the plaster to remove any splashed plaster or drips of dirty water. Then brush the area down to remove any loose dust.

Next, you may well think it’s simply a case of deciding on a colour and painting over the new plaster? STOP!
You should never paint new plaster with a vinyl emulsion as this will sit on top of the plaster leaving a skin or layer that could peel off. You should always paint new plaster with a ‘New Plaster Sealer’ or a non-vinyl emulsion.

I use a non-vinyl emulsion and is my preferred method. I use a matt emulsion, typically white to seal the plasterwork before using a vinyl emulsion colour over the top to complete the job. The ‘New Plaster Sealer’ or a non-vinyl emulsion will soak into the new plasterwork and the finish coats you apply will adhere to this first ‘mist’ coat.

You don’t have to worry about covering the plaster totally, you just need to give it a ‘mist’ coat (as it’s known) to seal the plaster, you’re not looking for complete coverage and opacity.

Once you have mist coated your new plaster you can now apply your choice of finish coat and colour.

Paint Calculator

You may find my paint calculator useful to help work out the quantity of paint you require to mist coat your new plaster and also for your final finish coat. One thing to note, new plaster can be absorbent so slightly more paint maybe required than normal to get a good depth of colour and a good finish.

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Posted in Decorating Tips | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “How to paint new plasterwork”

  1. vicky Says:

    I have a newly plastered ceiling and was advised to pain it with pvu glue (watered down), is this a good tip/idea?

    Date posted : August 14th, 2014 at 10:02 pm
  2. Adrian Says:


    You can used a diluted mix of PVA and water but I always use a non-vinyl white emulsion, that way you are sealing the plaster and covering the plaster colour, ideal for white ceilings 🙂

    Date posted : August 15th, 2014 at 1:54 pm
  3. j spence Says:

    Very informative and useful information covering many decorating issues.
    Thanks for putting it all together and making it publically available.

    Date posted : November 4th, 2014 at 9:18 am
  4. Julie Says:

    I have had my kitchen ceiling and walls replastered. I painted the ceiling with a cheap white matt emulsion – I did not brush the ceiling or use a mist coat. I have painted the ceiling twice now and it looks patchy. What can I do to correct matters?

    Date posted : December 2nd, 2014 at 9:03 am
  5. Adrian Says:


    I normally mist coat with a non vinyl emulsion so it soaks into the plaster and seals it, I then apply a further 2-4 coats for a good coverage and finish.

    If you are using a cheap emulsion then the opacity will not be as good as more expensive or trade paints so will require more coats.

    The only way to correct matters is to 1. either apply more coats of the heap emulsion or 2. buy some better emulsion and apply a coat or two to get an even finish.

    Hope that helps.

    How to paint a ceiling
    How to paint new plaster

    Date posted : December 4th, 2014 at 11:38 am
  6. Caroline Says:

    I have some great Victorian tiles in the hallway which could do with freshening up. What would you recommend for cleaning them and then shining them up to maximise their colour?

    Date posted : December 16th, 2014 at 6:53 pm
  7. Adrian Says:


    You don’t say if these are wall or floor tiles but just a good wash with soap and water I’m guessing would be OK, then you could seal them with a sealer to keep them looking there best.

    Date posted : December 19th, 2014 at 3:07 pm
  8. Marilyn Says:

    I have sanded newly plastered walls and added mist coating. Now when I have painted top coat of the emulsion still parts have peeled off. How can I rectify this?

    Date posted : August 3rd, 2015 at 6:53 pm
  9. Adrian Says:


    It’s a job for me to say why the emulsion is peeling off.

    Was there dust on the surface from rubbing down?
    Was it a non-vinyl emulsion?
    Was there any contaminates on the plaster such as grease?
    Was the plaster fully dry?

    I would remove the peeling emulsion back to a solid edge, then use fine filler to fill, rub down, dust off, mist coat these areas and re-apply top coat of emulsion.

    Date posted : August 4th, 2015 at 8:22 pm
  10. Chris Says:

    Hi Adrian
    I wonder if you can help me.
    After the mist coat is it necessary to sand down the whole area before painting with emulsion?
    Is it necessary to sand again between the 2 ‘top’ coats of emulsion?
    If it is necessary to sand down, is it better to remove the dust by using a ‘dry mop’ like the Wooster dust eater or is it equally effective just to wipe down the walls with a damp cloth?

    Date posted : October 12th, 2015 at 6:08 am
  11. Adrian Says:


    Depending on if there are any bits of dirt, dried paint etc in the coats will depend on if you need to sand down between coats. If you do use fine paper so not to rip up the emulsion and I typically use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust, but it is entirely up to you what you want to use. A damp cloth may lift or or remove some emulsion, especially the mist coat.

    Date posted : October 15th, 2015 at 3:17 pm
  12. Will Says:

    Hi Adrian, I ploughed straight in without research and painted 4 new walls and a ceiling with Dulux trade brilliant white, and it’s Vinyl emulsion, ive applied 2 coats and so far nothing has peeled, after reading your thread, can I just apply a pva coat over the top or do I have to remove the paint first?

    Date posted : November 22nd, 2015 at 11:55 am
  13. Adrian Says:


    It is not worth applying a PVA coat as it will only sit on top of the emulsion already applied. As you have already applied the emulsion it should be OK. Problems may only come in the future, say after removing paper or filling the walls and rubbing down. But for now I would think you should be OK?

    Date posted : November 29th, 2015 at 2:15 pm
  14. Sharon Says:

    Please can you help us? In our new bathroom extension the walls were plaster-boarded and then skimmed. I think the plasterer put on a PVA coat as I saw the container on the floor and the room smelled funny after he left. We let everything dry for several days until it had all turned pink. Then we brushed any dust off with a damp cloth and let it continue drying over another night. The next day we put on a mist coat of Dulux matt diluted 10% with water. After four hours we put on an undiluted top coat (B&Q Matt) and the following day a second top coat. The day after however, it has started to peel off around the edges of the ceiling where each of the walls joins it, and also in the corners reaching down from the ceiling.
    What can we do to rectify this? And what did we do wrong? Desperately hoping you can help! Thank you!

    Date posted : January 18th, 2016 at 9:19 pm
  15. Adrian Says:


    The plasterer may of use the PVA on the plasterboard and the plaster itself may be the smell. Was it vinyl matt? Mist coats should be of a non-vinyl emulsion, such as supermatt.

    Is the paint peeling, or is it cracks where the plasterboard has shrunk away? If so this can be filled. I don’t use B&Q paint so am unsure if there would be any problem reacting with Dulux paints? It maybe worth putting in a call to Dulux and B&Q technical department and see what they say.

    I am surprised that simply using a vinyl matt and not a non-vinyl matt that it would peel already. There maybe other factors at play. Has the room been used and a lot of steam created from a shower for example?
    I can’t think of anything else it may be.
    I would hone both companies and see what they say, then you may have to peel off the loose paint and seal the plaster, fill if required and re-paint.

    Hope you get it sorted.

    Date posted : January 19th, 2016 at 2:17 pm
  16. Sharon Says:

    Thank you so much for this Adrian. It’s a brand new extension and the shower/basin haven’t been used yet. It is very cold in there as the radiator has only just been connected. The peeling is a bit like the crazing on old plates – I suppose I would call it flaking rather than peeling. The main parts of the walls are all fine, it is just where all the walls meet. It is by far the worst in the corner where there is a hole waiting for the extractor fan to be fitted. It is flaking all around the hole.

    We used up some old, leftover paint for the mist coat and threw out the finished tub so I’m afraid I don’t know whether it was vinyl matt or supermatt.

    Thank you for your advice, it is much appreciated.

    Date posted : January 22nd, 2016 at 11:06 am
  17. Adrian Says:


    Could the wall have a contaminant on it, greasy hands from workmen etc?
    If you remove the flaking paint, has it adhered to the wall at all or just sitting on the top? The only solution I see is remove problem paint, fill with a fine surface filler and the sand down and re-paint.

    Date posted : January 22nd, 2016 at 2:48 pm
  18. Andrew Says:

    This is a brilliant advice piece and I’m so happy you’re first point was to wait for the plaster to dry – there are so many people who fail to do this!

    Date posted : May 23rd, 2016 at 9:12 am
  19. Joanna Says:

    Just had a wall re-plasterboarded and skimmed. Waited 3 months, dusted 2x mist coats and 2 coats of matt emulsion. 3 weeks later drilled holes, fitted raw plug and screwed in a picture. seen some cracking where teh screws have gone in. Why has this happened? Is there a way to fix it without repainting the wall?

    Date posted : September 14th, 2016 at 8:49 pm
  20. Adrian Says:


    I can’t think why this would happen, plasterboard doesn’t normally crack, even after drilling. Are the cracks straight, could it be the plasterboard joint?

    Filling and touching up is the only solution really.

    Date posted : September 15th, 2016 at 1:47 pm

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