There are several good paints available for plaster, depending on the look you require. Whether the plaster is newly applied or an old surface can also have a bearing on the paint you choose. Plaster is a porous surface so it makes good DIY sense to prepare the plaster walls properly first.
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Channel 4’s “4 Homes” recommends priming plaster walls before painting, with a water-based primer. A primer is a paint containing resins. These seal the porous surface of the plaster, creating a better surface for the topcoat. Allow completely new plaster to dry thoroughly before priming. This could take up to six weeks, 4 Homes suggests. Paint company Dulux claims it could take as long as six months.
Tommy's Trade Secrets, run by DIY expert Tommy Walsh, recommends mixing your own primer rather than buying it. His team creates a roughly half and half mix -- by volume -- of matt emulsion and water. They mix it thoroughly with a mixer paddle attached to an electric drill before applying it. It works as well as specially formulated shop bought primers, Walsh claims.
Paint for new plaster
A relatively recent introduction in DIY is a paint especially for new plaster. This promises to end the problem of having to wait for damp plaster to dry. The paint tackles the drying issue with a special chemical blend of polymers. The makers claim this allows the plaster to continue drying after the paint has been applied.
The best paint for standard plaster walls is emulsion, according to Homebase. You can choose from three main varieties, depending on the finish you want. Vinyl matt paint has a flat finish, without the sheen of a gloss paint. Though less hard wearing, a matt finish can help hide imperfections in the plaster finish. Vinyl silk, on the other hand, is both hard wearing and glossy. Vinyl soft sheen has a semi-gloss finish that lies somewhere between matt and silk.
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