Home > Decorating & Improving > Internal Walls And Ceilings

Internal Walls And Ceilings

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 15 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Property Renovation Renovate Extension

If you want to give your renovation project a quality look and feel then good preparation of the surfaces before decorating will be your best chance of achieving that.

If you project has been comprehensive enough to mean that your walls and ceilings have been rebuilt and re-plastered, then all you should need to do is wait until the plaster is properly dry, lightly rub it down and paint or paper over it. But if the walls are still in place and just a bit jaded, then you’ll need to make good the damage before you start decorating.

Updating Tired Walls

Making good holes and damaged or crumbling plaster is a case of removing the bad and replacing it with the good. In the housing boom of the Eighties, textured wallpaper, such as woodchip paper and anaglypta, and textured surface coverings such as artex became very popular. This is because they covered up a whole host of sins underneath them, and were a lot cheaper and faster than properly repairing and smoothing over the wall surface.

Today’s buyers are more knowledgeable and would see these as anachronistic aberrations, so it’s worth spending the time making good. First remove all the bad plaster around the hole or other damage and keep chipping away until you reach plaster that’s solid and in good condition. Then remove all the loose particles with a hoover attachment and then a fine brush, and if you’ve exposed bricks, dampen them.

Then prepare filler or plaster according to the manufacturers instructions, and apply it to the area. Use a filling knife or plasterer’s trowel to put the mix onto the wall and smooth it over, working it well into the edges. If it’s a deep area, build the filler up in layers, allowing each layer to stiffen, but not completely dry, before applying the next.Once it’s dry, smooth down with fine sandpaper and if necessary apply a thin layer of skim plaster or fine filler. Then sand down again and apply your choice of paint or paper.

This method will work on both ceilings and walls, although in older properties you may encounter lath and plaster walls, where a layer of small thin battens (known as laths) is laid horizontally across timber uprights (or joists in the case of a ceiling) and a layer of plaster, often strengthened with horsehair, applied on top.

If the laths are broken, they will have to be patched, but if it’s a small hole, say no more than about 75cms across, the gap can be bridged with a piece of wire mesh wrapped around good laths. Then apply plaster or filler in the same way.


One problem area that’s trickier to fix is at the external corners of walls, which of course are often damaged as they are more prone to knocks. The initial steps are the same, removing damaged plaster until you reach the good stuff, then you will have to build some sort of mould to hold the new plaster at the corner.

Do this by nailing a wide batten to one edge of the corner, using a known straight edge to line it up with the good plaster on the adjacent wall. Fill the gap between the wall and the batten with filler or plaster in the usual way, up to the batten. Then when it has completely dried, carefully remove the batten and fix it to the other side of the corner, to act as a guide for that side. Fill once more and remove the batten when the mix has dried.

If there is a large area on a corner to be repaired, it might be easier to use a length of expanded metal (mesh) angle beading. This is profiled with a 90 degree angle with a bead running down the corner and can be cut to the appropriate length. Once fixed to the wall, usually with dabs of plaster, this will provide a solid guide against which to plaster rather than having to use battens.

However bad your walls and ceilings, remember that time spent on decent preparation will pay dividends in making it possible to achieve a quality finish to show off all your hard renovation work.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • RenovationExpert
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Beth - Your Question:I am enquirering about possible housing grant for renovation of a very old damp depressing house, this house is…
    23 February 2018
  • Beth
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    I am enquirering about possible housing grant for renovation of a very old damp depressing house, this house is much older than 10…
    22 February 2018
  • PaN
    Re: Can Our Electrician Refuse to Finish The Job?
    @Cliffy60 - send him a warning letter and say you'll take him to the small claims court if he doesn't come…
    4 December 2017
  • Cliffy60
    Re: Can Our Electrician Refuse to Finish The Job?
    Hi - 9 weeks ago I paid an electrician in full for a job. But he hadn’t finished due to not having some…
    4 December 2017
  • Jonny
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Does a porch need an external door Or can it be used as a 3meter room out of the front door ,I still have a side and rear door on my house
    13 November 2017
  • PondPro2000
    Re: Renovating a Pond
    I am usually involved to read about ponds. Your post attracted my lot.I was repairing my pond with Pondpro2000. It’s first-rate to examine your…
    1 November 2017
  • Jac
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Hi, We have bought this house very recently,which hasa 3sqm PVV double glazed porch with tiledroof.As we have 2 young children we want to install a…
    30 September 2017
  • Messy
    Re: Adding A Porch
    @Stephb - tricky one. As the gas board to see if there is a solution.
    8 September 2017
  • Stephb
    Re: Adding A Porch
    We were advised that gas regulations prevent us from adding a porch as we have the meter on the wall outside and a lintel cannot go across the gas…
    5 September 2017
  • Yvonne
    Re: Adding A Porch
    I'm under the impression that rules have been relaxed viz a viz not within 2m of boundary with neighbouring property. Believe it still applies to…
    24 July 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the RenovationExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.