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Old house - Emulsion paint problems

(8 Posts)
Elliptic5 Sat 19-Jan-13 20:15:08

House around 160 years old. We moved in 12 years ago and every room has been a nightmare to decorate and I thought I had found solutions to every problem under the sun. However, we have finally got around to decorating the hall and I have a new problem.

The house had been empty for 2 years before we moved in and it was sold under probate - the heirs had splashed paint and/or woodchip all over the hall walls. I have stripped off the woodchip, filled in holes, sanded every wall and washed them with sugar soap and rinsed it off. Because of differences in texture and colour I have used Polycell Basecoat 5 in 1 on the walls (which I have used successfully elsewhere). Unfortunately some walls have reacted strangely, with the basecoat picking back up on the roller, sometimes with bits of plaster off the wall, in other places it's made a horrible thick textured effect, and in others the wall has bubbled. It doesn't seem to be related to the wallpapered bits although they are probably worse.
I have now tried painting one wall with a watered down coat of ordinary emulsion before I put the basecoat on, but don't know yet if that has helped.

Has anyone got any suggestions or foolproof solutions before I go completely mad with it all? I'm just about at the end of my tether.

purplewithred Sat 19-Jan-13 20:19:15

Wallpaper? it does sound as though the issue is with the plaster (assuming you are back to bare plaster and painting that). Or get it skimmed before trying to paint it?

nellyjelly Sat 19-Jan-13 20:20:34

Agree re skimming. We had probs with old plaster and only skimming worked.

Elliptic5 Sat 19-Jan-13 21:24:54

Woodchip wallpaper - all removed but it had a blue paint underneath which I can't get off.

mejon Sat 19-Jan-13 23:05:02

Could the blue paint be oil-based (gloss?) or something similar. Would papering with lining paper and painting over the top be an option for you?

PigletJohn Sat 19-Jan-13 23:35:34

a house of that age will have had distemper on the walls and ceilings. It is basically made of powdered chalk mixed with a glue made of boiled-up horses hooves, and colouring. It has a distinctive and somewhat unpleasant smell when wet. Tends to be in pale colours like chalky pink, yellow, sky blue.

It can be cleaned off with hot water but not with cold. Use a scraper after scrubbing to loosen it. If you use a steamer, keep it moving. Modern plaster will burst off the wall when overheated. I have worked with lime plaster, which this house probably has, it is usually greyish white, and much thicker, heavier and softer than modern plaster. I have never used a steamer on it so don't know how it would react.

Nothing will reliably stick to it. So get it off.

Tyranasaurus Sun 20-Jan-13 08:38:48

With dodgy plaster it's always better to use a brush than a roller, as rollers tend to pull bits off then spread them around the wall.

Elliptic5 Sun 20-Jan-13 21:15:30

Thanks for your suggestions.
PigletJohn I have encountered distemper here before and this is not behaving in the same way.
mejon it is quite possible the blue is oil based it does seem to have that feel about.
The wall I emulsioned behaved in the same way as soon as I put the basecoat on so that didn't solve anything. I'm thinking now of going to the trade paint centre and discussing it with them before I do anything else.

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