painting new plaster

Painting New Plaster in 6 Easy Steps (Complete DIY Guide)

Transforming your home decor often involves painting new plaster, which has some key differences from painting old plaster.

Fortunately, producing a nice smooth finish in the colour you love is a relatively simple and cost-effective way of giving your home a stunning new look.

Before you get started, though, there are three common questions that DIY enthusiasts often ask when it comes to painting new plaster:

  • How long should I wait for fresh plaster to completely dry before painting new plaster?
  • What type of paint produces the best possible finish on new plaster?
  • Should I seal bare plaster with PVA?

In this post, I’ll tackle all these questions and more.

Please note that this article only deals with painting INTERNAL walls/ceilings.

Don’t fancy doing this job yourself? Find top-rated painters in your area by clicking the button below:

Tools & Materials


  • A canvas drop cloth to protect carpets
  • Scraper
  • Bucket
  • Stirring paddle drill attachment or stirring stick
  • Paintbrush set
  • Roller and tray (medium to tight roller sleeve)
  • Filling knife


  • Plastic sheets
  • Rosin paper to protect hard floors
  • Masking tape
  • Emulsion paint
  • Solvent-based paint for kitchen and bathrooms
  • PVA. Use as a sealer for solvent paints only. For emulsion paint, use mist coats (see mists coats below)
  • Filler
  • 220-grit sanding block

What’s the Best Paint to Use When Painting New Plaster?

Picking the right paint depends on the room you’re painting, the bare plaster type and your budget.

The humidity in kitchens and bathrooms causes water-based paints (emulsions) to soak up the water vapour, making them unstable and likely to peel or harbour mould spores. Therefore, it’s best to use solvent-based paints for kitchens and bathrooms. Some companies even make special kitchen and bathroom paints that come in various colours.

For the other rooms in your home, go with good-quality emulsion paint. Good quality paint will need fewer coats, last longer and produce a much better finish when compared with cheaper paints. Use this paint guide to find the best options for your home.

Painting New Plaster – Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow the steps below to paint your fresh plaster like a Pro!

1. Wait for New Plaster to Dry

Leave newly plastered walls to dry out completely before you start painting.

Drying time depends on several factors, such as; time of year, heating, bare plaster type and the number of plastered layers.

You can expect fresh plaster to be completely dry after about three weeks, assuming you have central heating. If you don’t have central heating, it could take up to 6 weeks.

A newly plastered wall is much closer to the colour in Fig.1 than in Fig. 2 (see images below). Once the wall is completely dry, it should match the colour in Fig. 2. and be uniform.

colour of wet plaster
Fig. 1. Colour of a freshly plastered wall (do NOT paint!)
colour of dry plaster
Fig. 2. Colour of a dry plastered wall (ready to paint)

Why do I Need to Wait for the Plaster to Dry Completely?

You shouldn’t paint plaster before it’s completely dry because paint forms an airtight skin on top of it.

This airtight skin results in moisture trapped underneath the paint instead of evaporating off the plaster. The trapped moisture will either move deeper and develop mould in the wall or mix with wall salts and become Efflorescence.

In either scenario, you’ll have an expensive problem to fix. As always, prevention is better than cure!

Can I Speed Up the Drying Time?

Make sure newly plastered rooms are well-ventilated by opening doors and windows. This will allow natural air ventilation to flow through the room, gently drying your plaster.

Don’t be tempted to turn the heating up full whack, as rapidly drying plaster can cause cracking.

2. Prepare the Room for Painting

All the prep work listed below should have already been done for the plastering process. However, just in case they haven’t, here are the essential steps:

  • Move as much furniture as possible out of the room. Any furniture that needs to stay must be covered with plastic sheets
  • Cover hard floors with rosin paper and cover carpet with canvas drop cloths
  • Use masking tape to cover other areas that shouldn’t be painted

For more info on preparing a room for painting, please check out our guide to Painting A Room With No Mess.

3. Remove Excess Plaster (if necessary)

Look closely at the surface; you will likely see unwanted little blobs and plaster drops. They are not so obvious initially, but they stand out later when you’ve finished painting. Use a scraper to remove all the big bits you find.

Use 120 to 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out any marks for smaller imperfections.

Using a flat rubbing block, lightly and carefully run the sandpaper over the plastered surface. Avoid rubbing one area too much, as you’ll create dips and/or polish the surface so that paint won’t fully adhere to the plaster.

Regularly check your progress by running your fingertips over the plaster. After you’ve smoothed out the damage, you shouldn’t feel any difference when comparing the sanded and surrounding areas.

4. Seal New Plaster

New plaster is extremely porous, so if you use undiluted paint, the paint’s moisture will be sucked up by the plaster. The result is dry paint that won’t bond with the plaster.

Therefore, you must seal the plaster before applying the finish coat. For water-based paints, seal the plaster with one or two mist coats.

Mist coats are diluted coats of paint that plaster will suck up like a sponge and use to fill its pores.

Use PVA as your sealer for solvent-based paint (used for kitchens and bathrooms).

How to Create and Apply Mist Coats

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you DON’T use a vinyl emulsion for your mist coat. Vinyl emulsion forms a skin on the surface of your plaster that will be prone to peeling.

As mentioned above, solvent paints should be sealed with a PVA adhesive and NOT mist coats. PVA should also be mixed with water and by the same ratio below.

1. Mix Emulsion With Water
  • Mix standard emulsion with water. The ratio should be four parts emulsion to one-part water.
  • Stir thoroughly using a stirring paddle attachment for your drill. Use a regular stirring stick if you don’t have a stirring paddle attachment.

Note: Depending on your emulsion, you may have to alter the above ratio to achieve the right mix. If you need more info, check out this mist coat guide.

2. Apply Mist Coat to the Walls
  • Apply the emulsion-water mix to the plastered surface. Use a brush for the edges and a roller for everywhere else.
  • Check that the plaster is absorbing the liquid. You may even hear a sucking sound while the plaster absorbs the mist coat.
  • If you find that the plaster is not absorbing the mix, add more water to a max mix of 50/50
  • In most cases, one mist coat is enough. However, it doesn’t hurt to add a second one if you feel the need to.

5. Fill and Sand any Imperfections

Once the mist coat has dried, imperfections should be filled and sanded down.

  1. Mix up some filler
  2. Using a filling knife, apply the filler to any holes and cracks and wait for it to dry.
  3. After the filler has dried, use a 220-grit sanding block to smooth it
  4. Touch up the filled areas with the mist coat mix

6. Paint the Wall with Finish Coats

Once the filler touch-ups have dried, your wall/ceiling is ready for its finish coats.

Apply two or three finish coats by following the same steps used for the mist coat.

For more information on painting, check out this article under the heading ‘Painting Technique’. You’ll find some great tips on using rollers and brushes, so I highly recommend you check this out before you start painting.

Pro Tip: The humidity in kitchens and bathrooms means emulsion soaks up water vapour, making them unstable and likely to peel or harbour mould spores.

Fortunately, several paint manufacturers produce special kitchen & bathroom paint that protects against these issues. Be sure to ask your local DIY store about these paints when painting kitchen and bathrooms

Don’t fancy doing this job yourself? Find top-rated painters in your area by clicking the button below:

Painting New Plaster – Final Thoughts

I hope you found this post useful and feel empowered to paint your freshly laid plaster. To see how the pros do it, check out this video:

YouTube player

If you’re looking for more great painting tips, check out our guide to painting a radiator.

FAQ – Painting New Plaster

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about painting new plaster:

What if I cannot wait for my plaster to dry?

If you can’t wait, microporous paints will allow the plaster to evaporate and breathe while still drying.

Typically, microporous paints are thinner than water/solvent-based paints, so once the surface is dry, I recommend you paint over them using emulsion. Remember, only add the extra emulsion coats once the fresh plaster is bone dry.

If you’re planning on using microporous paints, read the product’s instructions regarding thinning and applying a mist coat to fresh plaster.

Although the microporous paints option is viable if you’re in a bind, I still recommend waiting for the plaster to dry out completely before painting.

Do I always have to prepare new plaster before applying a mist coat?

This depends on the skills of the plasterer. You should be confident in their work if you hire a highly-rated professional plasterer based on trusted referrals and reviews.

You may get lucky and avoid this step, but imperfections can happen no matter how skilled the plasterer is.

Often, imperfections such as scratches and lumps can be rectified using sandpaper. See step 3 above for instructions.

Should I apply a second mist coat?

A second mist coat is normally unnecessary, but it doesn’t hurt. So for peace of mind, apply a second coat if it makes you feel better.

Apply the second mist coat using the instructions provided in step 4 above, and remember to wait 24 hours for it to dry completely.

Once the surfaces are smoothed out, sealed and 100% dry, continue painting the finishing coats (step 6).