Decorating an old house

Unlike decorating a modern house, unless the property has been maintained to a high standard it is likely that extra preparation will be needed when decorating an old house.

Decorating an old house

Decorating an old house can be rewarding.  After moving in to your new home no doubt you will be keen to add your personal touches to turn the house you have just purchased into your home.  But unlike decorating a modern house, unless the property has been maintained to a high standard it is likely that extra preparation will be needed.


Before decorating an old house:

  1. Check whether any areas of wall plaster require replacement, such as plaster which has been affected by dampness and/or salts, or where it has become unbonded.  If plaster finishes contain salts (sometimes present even after damp proofing works have been carried out) have the affected areas of plaster replaced with a salt retardant plaster.
  2. Ensure any lath and plaster ceilings are firm.  Lath and plaster ceilings can become unbonded over time and can be extremely messy if they fail.
  3. Carry out any repairs and/or alterations to the room/s which are to be decorated, such as rewiring, plastering, replacement of windows, kitchen or bathroom fittings, etc.
  4. Check whether there are any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in the property.  If any ACMs are going to be disturbed, eg, by cutting, drilling, sanding, etc, then then you should contact an asbestos removal contractor.  ACMs can be found in many forms, visit:


Tips when decorating an old house:

  1. Don’t use a steamer to remove wall and ceiling coverings from lath and plaster.  The steam may cause the plaster to become unbonded leading to repairs or replacement.
  2. Ideally choose decorations which will allow the walls to breathe, such as emulsion.  Do not use vinyl coverings as they may entrap moisture.
  3. If there are stains on chimney breasts, seal the stains with a proprietary stain blocker before decorating to avoid the stain showing through new paintwork.
  4. If wall surfaces are uneven, the plaster surface could be skimmed to improve the finish.
  5. Consider decorative effects such as rag rolling or use of a sponge to disguise imperfect plaster finishes.
  6. Don’t be tempted to remove or block vents or fireplaces.  Ventilation is essential to reduce levels of condensation, which may in turn affect decorations.


Finishing touches when decorating an old house:

  1. If internal joinery such as skirtings, architraves, doors, etc, need replacing, try to match the existing profile to maintain the character of the property.
  2. Where features such as fireplaces have been removed, try to find a suitable replacement, possibly from a local reclamation yard.

Visit also DIY in the home.

buying and selling a house


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