All You Need To Know On How To Paint Newly Plastered Walls

People install plasterboard for many reasons. The boards offer additional wall protection, create barriers between rooms, lower noise pollution, are cheap, etc. Painting is the way to bring any space’s style and impact to life! So if you just had new plaster installed, painting over it is very important. Here comes the question of many homeowners about whether or not they can paint over new and bare plaster walls. And you may know how to paint over wallpaper or even your kitchen tiles, but what about this one? 

two men standing on ladders installing plasterboard in wall

As with all DIY projects, it can be a little bit complicated, and there are some tips and tricks to achieving an excellent finish. If you want to paint straight onto the plasterboard paper surface, you need to do a few things to the board’s surface before starting. Painting a newly plastered wall requires more preparation than painting a typical wall. Keep on reading to find out all you need to know to get the colourful finish you want!

Which side of the plasterboard should you paint?

There used to be a system where the board sheet’s grey side was for plastering, and the white side was for painting. Recently this has changed, and now the white side is commonly used for everything. Sometimes you may see a note printed on the board saying which side to use. If you don’t see anything, then contact your supplier as all boards can be different.

What paint to use? 

Choosing a good quality paint may be more costly, but it will take fewer coats, last longer and look better than a cheaper one. Here are some paint features to look for in DIY stores:

  • A breathable or lime-based paint will act as a sponge for moisture and prevent moisture.
  • High-quality matt emulsion is based on a blend of polymers that allow the substrate to breathe, helping the drying process.
  • When painting new plaster, the first coat you apply should be a mist coat. This is a watered-down matt emulsion.
  • Use a light coloured matt, preferably white, to provide a good base for your finishing top coat paint.
  • DON’T use vinyl or silk paints! When these types of paint dry, they form a “skin” that sits on the bare plaster’s top and does not bond with it. That means that it can easily flake or peel off.
  • You can also use specialist paints for new plaster. Although these will be more expensive than simply watering down a cheaper paint, you will find they are usually less messy. Just keep in mind; it may be harder to get the right finish when working with specialist paints since their edges are much harder than the soft effect of diluted emulsion. They might be the best option, though, if you are in a real hurry and cannot wait for your walls to dry out naturally.

What you’ll need to paint on newly plastered walls

Preparation is always key when it comes to all projects. That’s why it’s essential to keep all the materials you need handy. Here’s a list to help you plan:

  • Foam roller
  • Paint tray
  • Small paintbrush 
  • Protective sheets
  • Stepladder
  • Emulsion paint
  • Water
  • Gloves 
  • Masking tape
  • Filler
  • Filling knife
  • Sandpaper or sander

Set of tools for painting on window sill

Preparing the room and the wall for painting

Is this your first time painting on new plaster? Well, while painting a room is pretty much the easiest DIY project out there – anyone armed with some paint and a paintbrush can do a good job – painting a newly-plastered room is a whole different ball game! To help you handle the unusual properties of fresh plaster, we’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide on preparing and painting new plaster. Follow the steps to ensure you get a professional finish!

Step 1: Let the plaster dry and prepare the room

  1. When the plasterer is done attaching boards, open doors and windows, and don’t start painting until the plaster is fully dry. An average board may take 2-3 days after plastering to dry. If you are doing this during winter, you may also turn on the central heating to speed up the drying process. Just be careful; this isn’t a smart idea if your radiator is too close to the plastered surface.
  2. Ensure that there is no furniture in the room’s centre and that you’ve covered the floor with drop cloths. Any pictures and switch outlet covers should also be removed from the walls. 

Step 2: Make sure the plaster is dry

The longer you leave the plaster to dry, the easier you’ll achieve an even result. The time it takes to dry out will depend on the room’s ventilation, temperature, and the plaster’s thickness. If you notice any dark patches on the surface, that’s a sign that the plaster is still wet. If you apply emulsion paint to wet plaster, it’s most likely to cause damp patches, crack and peel off. 

Step 3: Make a mist coat with a mix of matt emulsion and clean water

If you want to ensure perfect coverage, you should give the surface a layer of undercoat before painting. Fresh plaster is porous, and any moisture will be absorbed into the wall. This is why you need to water down your first paint layer (famous as a mist coat). To make your mist coat:

  1. Combine an emulsion paint in a similar colour to your topcoat with water. The ratios for this vary according to the paint you are using, so you should check what it says on your paint tin. Around 3 parts paint to 1 part water should suffice. 
  2. If your topcoat is white, it’s best to use watered-down white mix for your mist coat, or you may end up doing more topcoats than you need to.
  3. Stir your solution until you have an even consistency of a watered-down mix. Fresh plaster needs to breathe underneath the paint to allow any moisture to escape, so be sure to use non-vinyl water-based paint.
  4. If you prefer not to water down your paint, you can also use Dulux sealer for plaster or plaster paints.

A woman's hand with a brush and water-based paint. Roller and brush for painting walls.

Step 4: Prime with a mist coat

  1. Applying your first coat of mist paint can be a messy job, so make sure you have covered any furniture and put down dust sheets. Fix masking tape along with any trim and the skirting boards to protect them, and cover windows, light switches or sockets.
  2. Pour the mist coat into your paint tray.
  3. Roll an even amount onto the foam roller. 
  4. Roll it over the plaster in smooth motions until you have covered its whole surface. 
  5. With a smaller brush, get into any corners or areas that you cannot reach with the roller. 
  6. Allow the mist coat to thoroughly dry before you start with the new paint.

Step 5: Use filler where needed

Once the mist coat has dried, your new plaster wall is ready to be filled. You will rarely find new plaster that doesn’t need a little filling here and there. 

  1. Mix up some filler.
  2. With filling knives, apply it to any holes or cracks that you can find. 
  3. Let it dry.
  4. Once it has dried, sand it back with some sandpaper and touch it again with the watered-down paint. 

How to paint new plasterboard walls

Once the mist coat is dry, you are ready to start painting your wall. This is the creative and fun part of this project, so choose the colour you like and start!

Step 1: Cut in around the wall’s corners using a brush

  1. After you’ve poured paint into the pan, dip the bottom of your brush into it. 
  2. With smooth strokes cut in around the wall’s corners.
  3. Keep the paint from dripping off the brush by lightly bumping the brush’s sides against the roll pan’s sides after loading it up with paint.

Step 2: Apply the paint with a roller to the middle sections of the wall 

  1. Use a roller with a thin, 10 mm nap to minimise splatter.
  2. Roll it in the pan until it is just coated with paint. 
  3. Place the roller against the wall and apply paint in smooth and even moves
  4. Continue till the whole wall is coated.
  5. Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before adding a second coat. Drying time is usually around 24-48 hours.

Step 3: Sand with 150-grit sandpaper between your coats of paint

Once the base coat of paint is dry, go over the entire space and sand it. Sanding will help your next coat to adhere more fully.

Step 4: Paint 1-2 more topcoats

A single coat of paint may fade over time. Prevent this by repeating the painting process until you have 2-3 coats of paint on your wall. When you are done with your final coat, allow the wall to dry completely before replacing any wall hangings and outlet covers.

couple painting wall white, happy couple, man on ladder painting with roller, painting newly plastered walls
Keep in mind that you can also paint old plaster, almost the same way as following the steps for this project. If you’re planning home renovations and don’t want to hire a decorator, you can see that you can paint your freshly plastered walls by yourself! It’s natural to want the job completed as soon as possible, and this can be done easily. All you need to do is follow our instructions for amazing results! Make the proper preparations, grab your painting tools and enjoy your vibrant and beautiful walls!

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