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Preparing/Painting old vicrorian plaster coving

Hi Guys,

I really need an advise of how to proceed for the best result with an old plaster coving preparation and painting. I have made quite a lot of research on the forum and main site but still not clear what paints need to use for best result. On all the over covings so far in the house just painted after prepping with water based Johnstones Covaplus Vinyl Matt Emulsion which end up doing three coats on some spots to have a good result.

Though in this room the paint all around the plaster coving is loose and flaky on most part of the coving. You just put a little pressure with your thumb and cracks like a potato chip. There is vacuum between the plaster and the paint.

I am in the process to remove all the loose paint, sand carefully with 180 sand paper where necessary. I will hoover to remove any dust and even clean the plaster with a soft wet sponge at the end. Then will fill the cracks and lightly damaged plaster with Toupret Redlite.

The paint on this coving feels in really bad shape. I think it might be a good idea for at least the 1st/2nd coat to use a better paint to seal plaster and bond the old paint together.

Which paint should I use for good/lasting results?

In a similar article was mentioned Zinsser AllCoat, several times I have read about Bulls Eye 123 good results and I have in mind the Zinsser Gardz which was mentioned in another article for fixing plaster coving. I was even considering the Classidur Aquaclassic but it is too expensive.

Can somebody confirm if my preparation steps are correct and if I have missed something and which paint should I use?

Thank you so much for your help in advance. This forum is awesome, so far with all the advise in materials and paints i had amazing results in the house and finished rooms really stand out.

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Hi Thales, first off I’m at the lower end of the food chain decorating skills wise so my input to be taken with a pinch of salt but have tackled this one recent weeks…in fact still doing.

Your approach sounds good but what I did which worked an absolute treat was to:

  1. Strip back pretty much as you describe but also used tungsten cabide shaped blades as well

  2. Use some Prestonnet Joint filler & thin with water to a mix that can be applied with a brush - hard to be precise with the ratio, I just played with it until it just wort of worked.

  3. Use a very thin laying off brush (I used an old L&N one which worked well) and paint the lot including the shoulders onto the wall.

  4. I then sanded it all gently to get a great finish and sharpen the shoulders and troughs

  5. Then used an Eico Alterior Matt … I needed 3 coats as some of the coloration was shining through but ordinarily 2 coats I’d have thought enough

It sounds hard work but is reality not so … get the mix right and it brushes on a treat & to my mind provides an excellent substrate fix. And the sanding is a breeze with an old used 320 abranet disc that’s seen better days.

Only down side is that it’s dusty work but the result is beautiful.

I’ve used the Zinseer product and it’s very good but if you use this approach I doubt you will need that as the Prestonett provides a good enough base.

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I should have added that the bones of that solution came originally from Darlic (Jason) in response to a similar issue I had last year when filling complex wooden skirtings.

Hi @Thales and @amateurhour64

nice to sit back and see some great info.

If I understand @amateurhour64 approach, you make up a brushing filler to bind down the surface and provide a nice sanded base for paint?

Very good advice.

The only caveat really is the condition of the original surface. On timber or gypsum plaster, there would be no foreseeable hiccups regarding adhesion of brushed filler, but here, you would need to do a test to make sure that is not a dusty distemper base.

Scrape what you think, wash off any dust to a solid base, and do a test with @amateurhour64 spec.

Back in the day, a safe spec we used was to apply thick artex to potentially distempered areas that looked dodgy, scrape off just before it dries off, to get back to a smooth surface.

Quick wash, then oil based primer sealer; spot fill, and finish with flat oil. Zero water in the spec minimises potential adhesion issues. Products that aren’t around now, or been beaten out of mind by Zinsser marketing.

Commercially, re the labour and material cost, a classidur product would be more efficient than sealer and top coats.


Why do you always do this to me Andy … just searched on ‘classidur’ … another level of hell in this heady ceiling of top tier products :slight_smile: … I want a church roof just to be able to use it!!! Another afternoon on the web rather than painting :slight_smile:

If you can find a merchants that sells is - Artex Stabilex. Check it is distemper first.

make sure you seal it before applying any form of filler .
and wash it down with warm water as distemper if it is that? is comprised of glue and pigment/chalk
the artex product is a good option as is coverstain 2 coats is a must
as with all primers and undercoats obliterate. never rely on top coat coverage to hide anything

Hi Guys,

Thank you so much for your suggestions.

I wasn’t able to find Artex Stabilex in my local store. It appears to be an nice solution for my problem. Most probably I will go with Classidur solution that Andy suggested since it removes the sealer and top coats.
Andy can you please advise what is the exact Classidur product best fits the purpose since they have several options.
Do I need the Classidur Universal Primer Xtrem for the first coat and on the top any of Tradition, Superclassic, Modern plus or Aquaclass?

Thanks for all the advise guys.