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Help and advice on Edwardian house renovation please

(41 Posts)
FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 11:54:06

We have recently moved into a neglected but potentially lovely spacious three bed end of terrace Edwardian house. Most recent 'home improvements' happened in 1990 when the back end of the house subsided and was underpinned and large sections had to be re plastered after the building work. Before that, in 1960s the fireplaces were covered over and the doors and staircase were panelled in. Whole house smelled quite musty.

This is our 'forever house' so we want to do everything slowly and properly, and would appreciate any advice along the way. We are pretty new to renovation work and our budget is tiny so we need to DIY. Have read the whole heritage house website and we are aware of breathability issues, however we have a lot of modern interior plaster on walls which we will need to live with as can't afford to take it back to brick and re do in lime.

First question: have stripped wallpaper off in one room (back bedroom). Have found a variety of plaster- will try to add photos in a minute. The wall thats an exterior wall has lots of black mould on it. I'm assuming this is caused by condensation problems. What can we do about this, as we can't afford to re plaster in lime. I'm thinking wallpaper is not a good idea as it'll get damp again.

Will post photos in a minute to clarify my questions about each type of plaster I found...

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 12:02:01

Main type of plaster found in this room: grey. Black mould like this!

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 12:06:27

Other than the black mould, these grey walls are in good condition and I'm hopeful I can clean them up and paint directly onto them. My plan was:

Spray mouldy bits with HG mould spray

Wash down all walks with sugar soap



Does this sound a good plan? Also, I think there is a coating of PVA, loose in places, is this going to mess up the surface for painting and does it all need to come off? If so how? If I paint on it is the black mould going to reappear on the painted surface in autumn when it gets colder and condensation problems increase?

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 12:08:15

grey surface has also been patched with pink (gypsum?) plaster which is also mouldy

JT05 Tue 26-Jul-16 12:11:41

Haynes ( the car manual publishers ) publish a book called The Victorian and Edwardian house manual. It is a really good guide to refurbishing V/E houses. It helps you to understand the original materials and construction and how to maintain the building.

Good luck, I'm sure you will be pleased with the end result. DH and I have gutted and refurbished two, in the past and found it really interesting, if tiring! We now have another, Edwardian one and just love the style.

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 12:11:54

Around the fireplace we've just uncovered, all over the chimney breast is this sandy old plaster, is this lime? It seems sound and attached to the brickwork, my plan here was to sand it down then use thick lining paper and paint that. Any comments on this plan?

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 12:13:27

JT05 thanks I'll order it now smile yes I was a bit overwhelmed when we moved in, buy the fact it was all so skanky and we had no money, but I'm getting into the DIY now and I can see it's going to be gorgeous in the end!

JT05 Tue 26-Jul-16 12:15:38

Just seen your previous post. It all depends on whether the staining is historical, or there is still damp. If it's still damp the source must be fixed. In our refurbs. we tended to have no choice but replaster so did not face this problem.

CatherineDeB Tue 26-Jul-16 12:18:20

I did an Edwardian house up, it was the first house I bought in 1986 shock. I bought this book.

I saw it in my library the other day. It was great for ideas and I replaced the long gone stained glass in the front door/entrance with a design from the book. I love that period, gone is the over ornate fussiness of the Victorian era, cleaner lines with beautiful detail.

JT05 Tue 26-Jul-16 12:22:10

We did both of ours out of earned income during the 1980s. So I know how you feel. Just when the first one was finished, we moved! The next one was bigger and we had a baby in tow! It had been a lodging house for 30 years!
5 years later job move again!
Lining paper is your friend!

minipie Tue 26-Jul-16 12:26:43

I'd say first work out if there is any ongoing damp issue and if so where is it coming from. For example is there any pipework in these walls (seems unlikely if it's a bedroom, unless there is a bathroom behind?) or is there a gutter pipe outside which might be leaking water onto the external wall.

You can buy little electronic gadgets which tell you if a wall is still wet/damp or not. Or if you know any builders they may have one they can lend you.

If you are confident the wall is dry and the damp issue is not ongoing then you can cover it but will need Stain Stop or similar before the paint goes on to stop the stain showing through.

I doubt you'd get condensation on the walls once it's all done, assuming you have the heating on when it's really cold and assuming there is decent ventilation.

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 12:41:54

CatherineDeB thanks that book will also go on my to buy list. I love anything that tells me more about how people lived in these houses too.

minipie yes I suppose you're right, we need to resolve the problem if there is one. The wallpaper I took off was badly damp stained but not damp, but I'm not sure if I can tell at this time of the year when the temperature is the same on both sides of the wall and the air is nice and warm and dry. Doubt there are pipes in the wall but will try and see what the route is from the water tank to the bathroom..

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 12:43:21

JT05 yep this is going to be out of earned income, about £400 max a month to spend, if no emergencies such as car or whatever...

CatherineDeB Tue 26-Jul-16 12:44:59

We had damp in every room Four, it was caused by the fireplaces being closed up and the chimneys not being capped properly. Once the fireplaces were in use downstairs and the chimneys to the upstairs capped the damp dried out .... over the winter.

BumbleNova Tue 26-Jul-16 13:24:46

it looks like you have the same type of "plaster" as we do OP. our house was built around 1890 and when we pulled off the dodgy lining paper that photo of the fireplace is what we found.

ours wasnt lime - too expensive, just clay mixed with sand and horsehair. it was in pretty good nick but we wanted to paint, so we had the walls skimmed with gypsum. where are you? that is standard in the south east where we are.

we also had a bit of black mould staining. ours was historical, due to a leaky roof.

you could put up lining paper and paint. personally, i think that always looks crap. we paid about 450 per room for a re skim and it looks wonderful. get yourself a good plasterer round for a quote.

JT05 Tue 26-Jul-16 14:04:09

Four , reclaimation yards might be a useful source of authentic replacement bits. In our time there were lots of flat conversions, so banisters, spindles and door furniture were thrown in skips.
I was often seen pushing a pram with baby and discarded mouldings etc. strapped to it. grin

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 14:38:13

Anyone know about the PVA? Google is giving me mixed answers. I don't mind lining paper, but a lot of the room would be ok to paint on I think, except the chimney breast which I'll wallpaper... Have my eye on a gorgeous fired earth paper for that!

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 14:47:00

Oh crossed posts JT05 yes I've been asking around about reclamation yards locally, can't wait to visit one!

JT05 Tue 26-Jul-16 14:52:47

Ah PVA, we did paint it, diluted, over a cracked stairway wall where the plaster had slight movement. It stabilised the wall and the paper went on well.

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 14:56:44

Looks like we will have to do lining paper all over or an oil based undercoat which I'm not keen on, can't stand using oil based paints!

Quodlibet Tue 26-Jul-16 14:59:20

That damp doesn't look too bad to me - it might resolve once rooms are breathing properly again and airflow is re established. One of the things that causes damp in Victorian properties is trapped moisture - houses were designed to have sash windows open and fires burning. Nowadays up can windows, showers and drying washing inside causes a build up of moisture that doesn't get released. What kind of windows do you have? We had a similar level of worrying damp and peeling paper when we moved into our Victorian flat, but it resolved as we started using the house. Sometimes putting in an air brick can help matters apparently.

Re plaster - I wish we'd just coughed up for a re-skim in two of our rooms which we ended up lining. When you include the time you spend trying to patch up bad walls, the cost is fairly negligible.

Quodlibet Tue 26-Jul-16 15:00:44

upvc windows not can windows!

FourOnTheHill Tue 26-Jul-16 15:32:26

Quodlibet are you a musician too? smile

Encouraged to hear the damp doesn't look too bad to you

I'm not keen on paying for plastering, but will maybe get a quote. I'm a bit confused about what kind of plaster I'd ask for give that I don't want to put modern un breathable plaster on the nice old sand plaster. Don't care on the grey stuff obviously whatever it is. Looks like concrete...

Yes we will try and keep it all ventilated. We have an awful old UPVC window with seals all hanging off in there that needs replacing but isn't a top priority.

thatwouldbeanecumenicalmatter Tue 26-Jul-16 15:58:05

Our house is Edwardian, similar state walls, we got most of our walls skimmed with modern plaster and they've been fine for years now.

What's the state of your roof/guttering like? Do you know if the house has had modern cavity wall insulation- if it hasn't then don't as it will cause damp! If there's any gutters that are blocked/broken they'll cause damp with water running down your brickwork.

We are still renovating ours, mostly DIY due to costs. Still have kitchen and hallway to do. Agree with PPs to keep it well ventilated and it should be fine.

As an aside I don't know about anyone else but I've found our house gets dusty very quickly.

BumbleNova Tue 26-Jul-16 18:03:11

grey stuff is concrete - they clearly had a damp proof course put in, we had the same.

actually, modern gypsum is breathable and water permeable so it shouldnt damage the old walls and cause damp. we did loads of research, it was important to us too.

the key is breatheable paint - try earthborn or edward bulmer emulsion. and I'd step away from the PVA. its a disaster for old walls. and definitely do not use Farrow and Ball on your original plaster, it has acrylic in it.

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