Residential Design series Stripping and Painting

June 26, 2018


Stripping and Painting.

There is something erotic about removing the layers of paint from old ceilings and revealing the seductive lines that lie beneath the years of neglect.

Of course many people just remove the cornices and fix a layer of gyprock over the existing ceiling. This is more than an option and is the method that many trades people and builders use. Personally I would always remove the existing before putting anything else back up. However you will have to deal with the 100 years of accumulated dust and dirt if you do decide to pull them down.

Alternatively you can renovate the ceilings. Sagging ceilings can be pushed up and rescrewed to the battens using a quality battery operated drill. Once you have worked out the direction of the battens and found the existing nails that hold the plaster ceiling sheets in place you can move quickly across a room taking the sag out.  You may need to use a couple of timber props to push the ceiling in position before screwing. You patch the area around the head of the screw with polyfilla.

To remove the layers of paint I have found a gas bottle and paint scrapper a most effective method. The trick is to keep the flame far enough away so that it melts the glues but does not set fire to the old paint. This way you can avoid filling the room with fumes and with plenty of thrust you can remove large areas as it comes away in big sheets. Remember some old paints are lead based so wear protective masks to prevent inhaling the fumes. Otherwise you may end up babbling like the mad hatter.

Before any painting or sealing clean everything up. All the paint scrapings should be removed and the ceilings should be broomed to remove the dust. Once you have broomed the room, vacuum everything and wash the ceilings to remove any dirt or stains.

The white, alabaster plaster ceilings have a chalky finish and must be sealed before any painting can begin. If you don’t seal them correctly, then the new paint will bubble and crack within a few hours of application.

Your tool kit for painting should consist of a number of brushes large and small and brushes for use with oil based and water based paint.

Cleaning up after using oil-based paint is messy and difficult. You will need to be thorough in your cleaning methods otherwise your brushes will be useless in a short time. You will also need somewhere to dispose of the mess. The method I use on oil-based brushes is to soak them in Mineral turps a number of times before washing the turps out with hot soapy water.

Once you get around to choosing colours you know the hard work is over and the arguments can begin.

I like to choose my own colours and so I invariably try many sample pots before settling on a style or theme for the house. If money is still an issue then I suggest you choose one colour for the majority of the house and combine it with one or two other colours to create feature walls. If you change colour from room to room it will be expensive and then you will have to store all the excess paint tins when you’re finished.

The best advice I ever received with regard to painting was to never open anything until all floors and furniture have been covered!

I wrote this article in 2004 my suggestion now would be to hire a professional painter. Just make sure they apply the three coats if that is what you are paying for.

Good building and design!

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