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Emulsion walls in new home

This is a question I received from a home decorator who is clearly trying to do things right, not happy to slap a quick coat over the walls, but is getting in a bit of trouble.

I’m hoping you might be able to advise what I can do with regard to my internal walls.

We have recently moved into a relatively new house. The internal walls are plasterboard with the original paint the house was completed with. The walls have been finished with a tape and joint
finish and the paint finish is very smooth.

We have tried to re-paint a wall with very little success. Firstly we gave the wall a good sand down, removed all the dust etc and applied a mist coat over.

We then sanded the walls again and gave the walls 2 costs of Dulux Flat Matt.

The finish is rough to the touch and the paint does seem to dry out quickly when applying it with a roller. Is there something we can do to stop this happening?

You are exactly the “person” that Traditional Painter wants to hear from. I think from what you are saying there are a couple of things you can do.

  • the choice of roller pile is one issue. Are you using a 3/8" pile microfibre or less? The longer the pile the greater the likelihood of orange peel.

If the walls are that good to start with, after an overall light sanding I would apply two finish coats at most, maybe 10% diluted.

If it is drying quickly,

a) work faster, sorry, not wishing to sound rude, but a lot of people fuss too much. When rolling, use as big a roller as you can fit in the space (14" is my sweet spot size around the home) and follow the technique on this page on how to emulsion paint walls. Cut the edges in last.

b) You can add a product called floetrol (look half way down page) It is a conditioner that aids with the flow and levelling out of water based paints. Add 1 litre to 5 litres of emulsion, thus creating 6 litres of paint that as well as laying flatter than normal, will not dry as quickly.

The other thing to look at is the paint. If you are DIY and want some user friendly emulsion paint, you should try Mythic acrylic latex interior wall paint. It comes in matt or satin, literally any colour, and is almost zero spatter. It is a very thin paint that naturally lays flat when it dries. It dries within the hour and gets very tough when fully cured after 7 days. I think it is the most user-friendly modern look emulsion I have ever used. It is matt, but not however a chalky traditional look. And to be fair, flat matt should be quite forgiving.

I’ve very good results with Mythic Flat and Eggshell on walls. The Eggshell in particular will give an extremely smooth finish.

I always add Floetrol to Mythic because from the can it does dry a little to fast. Don’t be shy at adding Floetrol. The can says between 7 and 15% and I would go for the higher figure for walls.

Both Dulux and Johnstone’s Flat matt will give a finish that is slightly rough to the touch. Even adding Floetrol won’t stop this. Even expensive Dulux products like Diamond Matt suffer from this problem.

If you are painting on existing contract paint you will get subsequent coats drying to fast. The best way to combat this is to paint the walls with a product called Zinsser Gardz. This is a clear sealer which will seal in the chalky finish of the contract paint and give a uniform base for the new topcoats. It’s not particularly expensive but means more time in the preparation stage before painting. It’s best to do all your filling before applying the Gardz.

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I’m a fan of Little Greene Paint Company paints and have always got on very well with Intelligent Matt Emulsion (formerly Ultimatt). In my experience I have found that the coverage and flow of the paint is extremely good, any roller lines or brush marks (not that I leave any), actually disappear when dry and it is a scrubbable finish, so perfect for high footfall areas.

Furthermore, the finish is gloriously flat matt… yet, it is highly recommended for kitchens and bathrooms and areas of high humidity - not commonly heard of with traditional matt paints.

The range of colours is also excellent.

I would recommend it to any DIYer… perhaps a little more expensive than most ‘shed’ paints, but worth every penny.

If it helps to pick a path, I specify Mythic when clients talk about Dulux emulsion etc, and specify Little Greene where people talk about Farrow and Ball emulsion. ie Mythic is modern finish but lots of advantages, and Little Greene is a flat traditional finish but the Intelligent Matt is very tough.