Loosen the first few layers of paint by lightly rubbing the moulding with a dry cloth and tapping gently with a rounded object – so as not to break the plaster. To remove more stubborn paint layers, use a paint removal product and make sure that the product is suitable for older lead based paints that you may find in period properties. Once most of the paint has been removed, carefully remove the remains using a small implement that will limit any damage to the plaster.
Once the existing paint has been removed, you will need to apply a water-based primer (depending upon the substrate you could use solvent-based if preferred) followed by your choice of top coat. If you have a paint sprayer, this is the time to use it. Using a paint spray gun is much quicker and more effective than using a paint brush, as the spray can get into hard to reach crevices and gives an overall smoother finish without disguising any of the finer details.
If you’re hanging a new ceiling moulding, bear in mind that plaster versions can be very heavy, so you will need more than one pair of hands to attach them. Depending on the requirements of your client, you can buy lightweight resin versions that are much easier to install and paint.
Painting with damp problems
The older a property is, the more susceptible it is to damp and mould, so you will need to consider this before you start decorating. Usually damp problems will be visible to the eye before you start a job, but sometimes they can be lurking beneath wallpaper or behind furniture.
Where walls feel cold or damp, or if there is visible mould or staining, make sure that the cause of the problem is identified and fixed before you tackle the decorating – don’t just remove old wallpaper and rehang new paper in the hope that it will go unnoticed.
Once the problems have been rectified appropriately, choosing the correct decorative finish can reduce similar problems in the future.
Painting on plaster rather than papering is advisable in period properties that have damp problems, as paper can peel easily due to the effects of damp and paintwork is easier to clean if mould reappears. Use a specialist anti-mould paint to reduce the reappearance of mould, especially in bathrooms and kitchens where there will be high levels of steam.
If there is a chance that the walls will need to be cleaned in the future, make sure that you use a paint that is easy to wipe, such as a satin finish.
Dark colours keep with Victorian tradition