Texturing plaster walls?

KiagraceNovember 17, 2012

We are in the process of buying a 1910 brick house and I don't want to screw it up like so many of the old houses we looked at on the market. Please forgive my ignorance, but is it a horrible thing to use texture paint on plaster walls to hide some of the imperfections? The walls aren't in terrible shape, but they aren't perfect either. In our current house (drywall) I really regretted not finding texture paint for the wall until I had already painted several rooms. (We gutted the house. It hadn't been touched since it was built in the 50s.) It really helped cover the boo boos in the walls. Should I use this on plaster, or is this a horrible idea? We are having to replace the knob and tube wiring, roof, etc., so don't really have the resources to replaster all of the walls. I know there will be holes from the electrical I'll have to get fixed, and of course the plaster guy I called to try to get some idea of that cost recommends replastering all of the walls, even though he has never seen them. Advice?

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First, if the walls are fine, they do NOT need replastering. Small holes from doing wiring can be patched with drywall and joint compound. If you are talking small cracks, they can be taped and filled with the same compound--you do not need a plasterer for this, it is a diy job.

If the imperfections are just occasional ridges, and they aren't due to loose plaster keys, you have to understand one thing--plaster is itself a sort of texture--you could sand them down if they are small, but the occasional waviness of plaster is part of the charm of an old house. I have been lucky in the fact that my plaster is fine, but only had to skim a few spots after removing wallpaper. Are all the walls dead flat? No...are they structurally fine? Yes. The walls are telling you 'I was put up by a craftsman--not an idiot with a screwgun and sheets of drywall'; let the walls be what they are--character-filled.

As for texture paint--what a waste of money, and a faddish thing which the next owner will curse you for doing. You are not living in a Tuscan villa, so why try to look like one?

Save your money for other projects which will need an expert to help with...such as the electrical. Your walls, from the description you gave, don't need an expert, just someone who is willing to do a bit of hole-patching.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:52AM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

I agree 100% with the above^

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 5:37AM
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Also a lower sheen paint (flat or close to it) will hide not highlight some of those differences and would be worth a try for sure.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 9:34AM
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"-you could sand them down if they are small"

Wait till you try that.
Plaster is HARD.

You will also find the surface very different if you do manage to sand any away.

It was never sanded when it was installed, just worked smooth with steel trowels.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Bad old house Karma to add texture paint just to hide a problem that may not even exist, or one that could simply be fixed. Almost as bad as painting over wallpaper because it seems easier than taking it off. That's really, really bad ju-ju. (As long as you've never done it, you get a free pass to revile the PO that did.)

Don't feel bad about not knowing this stuff initially, each step/decision raises new questions And with the exception of some of the pros here I guarantee we all started out as rank newbies, many of us long before there was any place like this one to ask for opinions. So we made dumb choices. (Don't ask me about the plaster and wainscotted wall I once removed. I'm still embarassed about that!) Just go slowly, seek advice from people who love and know about their old houses. Stay away from TOH and all of the fix-it-to-flip-it shows.



    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:23AM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

brick says"Wait till you try that.
Plaster is HARD"

you got that right!.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 4:46AM
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Texturizing paint doesnt hide imperfections - it just ADDS TO them! What exactly are the "imperfections" you are seeing? As long as the plaster isnt cracking or bowing out it's good. If it is then it really should be repaired.

Im kind of puzzled by your word "replastering." Be sure the electrician you hire knows and appreciates old houses. The cuts they make to fish wires thru the wall are very minimal and easily repaired - not like there's extensive "replastering" involved.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 4:25PM
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Thanks for all the replies. Glad I asked you all. Your comments helped me convince my mom to stop insisting that I texture the walls before I paint. And thanks for the wallpaper painting comment, liriodendron, she suggested that as well. I know she's trying to be helpful, but... I plan to live woth the turquoise bird wallpaper until I have the time and resources to deal with it. Pleanty of more immeduiate projects for now. And who knows, maybe they'll grow on me...
As for the "replastering," this comment came from a plaster guy I had called who had never even seen the house. I don;t think the walls are in that bad of shape. A few small cracks, but they're 100 years old. As someone said, I will consider them character as long as the walls are sound. Hoping the electritian doesn't need to make too many holes. He seems reputable and understands old houses.... we'll see. :)

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:17PM
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Turquoise bird wallpaper? Man, I'd love to see a pic of that! The late 50s ranch I grew up in was pretty standard--except the room I got after my oldest sister moved out--she is a great artist and had painted peacocks on the walls! I vaguely remember them and they were very nice. It drove my dad nuts painting over them--for quite a while they would bleed through again!

Not to be mean, but if this is your house, you should decide what to do with it--your mother may mean well, but her generation has a different ethic toward old houses. The in-the-know owner today respects them for their detail and craftsmanship...and will try to keep what remains--your mother's era would tend to modernize everything to be trendy as they didn't see the value of their parent's houses.

It has been said here that people tend to like what their grandparents lived with--and at least in my case, that is true--you couldn't pay me to live in a ranch house!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 6:06PM
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I will try to remember to take a pic and post it when we close on the house next week. The birds match the turquoise toilet, tub, and sink very nicely. The birds may be allowed to stay, at least for a while, but the turquoise toilet is frightening. Wondering about glazing the tub...

As for my mom, you are right it is my house and ultimately I will make the decisions. Problem is, I need her help with things like painting and landscaping. Or at least I need her to watch my two little ones so I can do those things. The infant isn't great an entertaining herself and the toddler gets into EVERYTHING. My mom actually tried to talk me into a ranch, but like you, I have NO interest. I love old houses with all their quirks and just want to make sure I'm not doing this poor old place a disservice. It's really helpful for me to be able to send my mom things like posts from this forum to back up what I'm telling her. Mothers always think they know better than their daughters, no matter that the daughters have daughters of their own. :)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Not having children (only cats), I haven't had to worry about kids in the way--but I had to watch my nephews a lot when they were little, so that must be why I avoid them now. :)

I've heard that you can reglaze tubs and sinks, but never tried it myself--even he best jobs probably won't last more than ten years or so I think. My house has so many original features left that I only change what is actually broken and not repairable--the plumbers thought I was nuts for wanting to keep my original toilet--but they did it anyway when they replaced the lead drain pipe from it. What I have done mostly is reverse later changes (very few) done by doofuses. The 70s kitchen was the first to go, after the carpeting. No way could I live with plywood and formica and fluorescent lights in my house.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 10:55PM
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