Master bedroom update: a disaster with the plaster!

In my last blog post I explained that the replastering had been done in the bedroom. However once the plaster on the ceiling started to dry I noticed lots of imperfections. Some reminded me of the surface of the moon but that’s not the effect I was hoping for.

Uneven patches and straight lines in the plaster.

Uneven patches and straight lines.

More uneven plaster patches on the ceiling.

More uneven patches.

Uneven plaster patch at top right was about 30cm across.

Patch at top right was about 30cm across.

Stain from screw at edge of ceiling

Orange stain caused by rusting screw head.

Uneven plaster at edge of ceiling (hole is screw hole on wall beneath)

Edge of ceiling (that’s an old screw hole on wall beneath).

It’s incredibly disappointing to put your trust in a tradesman and be let down by the quality of their work (I’m not going to use my blog to name and shame or go into detail of conversations).

Even after I’d had the plasterer back to improve the ceiling the workmen who later came to fit the plaster cornicing (the subject of my next blog post) noticed the quality of the ceiling immediately. They thought it had been done by my partner, not a professional!

Finding decent tradesmen is hard

I was planning a future blog post on how to find quality tradesmen, but thought it might be worth digressing slightly here. The plasterer came on recommendation so I’d had high hopes. Usually I read reviews on Checkatrade, Rated People or Yell but I often only get call backs from 1 in 5 people I contact. The workmen who fitted the cornice mentioned they did plastering too, but said they’d removed themselves from review sites because they couldn’t keep up with the demand and didn’t feel it was fair to potential customers. So it’s possible that the very best tradesmen aren’t even on review sites because they’ve already got a loyal customer base. Even though I try my best to get quality tradesman, from my past experiences I’m starting to think it’s down to perseverance and pure luck.

If you’re unhappy with any work done on your house by a decorater, builder, plasterer or any other tradesman I recommend you follow the guidance on the Citizen’s Advice website.

A quick explanation of mist coats

Getting back to the ceiling, over the weekend I’ve had to fill in a couple of uneven areas myself and sand it back a bit more. Then I applied a ‘mist coat’. Before painting bare plaster it’s best to do a mist coat first with watered down emulsion (I used a 50/50 mix of matt emulsion and water). This is because new plaster acts like a sponge. If you apply pure emulsion it’ll suck the water out of the paint and make the rest of it more likely to peel off. That’s my understanding anyway! I noticed when shopping for paint that there are specialist products for prepping bare plaster, but most websites said these were a waste of money and watered down emulsion is fine.

If you’re planning on wallpapering bare plaster don’t paint it with a mist coat. Instead you need to ‘size’ the walls with wallpaper paste that’s a bit more diluted than normal. Use a paintbrush or roller to spread the sizing paste onto the plastered walls then leave to dry. This is the same principle as the mist coat – it’ll stop the wall being too thirsty when you apply the lining paper and will ensure the paper doesn’t peel off when dry.

NB: I’m referring to modern plasters in the above. Please check elsewhere on how to prep older lime based plasters for decoration.

Look at this giant tub of paint!

Large tub of paint with a banana on the lid.

10 litres rather than the usual 2.5 litres

This is what I used to make up the mist coat. I got it on offer at Screwfix for £14.99 (usually £19.99). Bargain.

Plans for the next couple of weeks

I mentioned the plaster cornicing has gone up so I’ll give an update on that soon. I’m trying to figure out how I can make a feature of the chimney breast and am on the look out for some Victorian fireplace tiles.

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