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An easy way to repair damaged walls?

Question

Hi Darren,
Love this blog, thank you for the advice on paintbrushes.

So we have a Victorian terrace that is covered in woodchip wallpaper. Unsurprisingly the plaster underneath is in various states of repair. My question is – in an ideal world we would have quite a lot re-plastered but can’t afford a professional.

Is there a product that we could use that isn’t one of these “dries white and is a cross between plaster and filler” that will give us a reasonable finish? Should it only be gypsum based?

Really appreciate any help here at all!

Anna

Answer

Regrettably, there isn’t a practical alternative to the filler/plaster hybrids you want to avoid using.

There are various quick repair products available in DIY stores but their performance often doesn’t live up to the promise, and they can be quite expensive if covering a large area.

Gyproc Easifill is a popular product used by many professionals where something between a traditional filler and skimming plaster is required. You can buy large 10kg bags from B&Q for about £18 (go for the regular green label stuff, not the quick drying option with a yellow/orange labe).

It’s easy to mix and you can get a fairly decent finish although it does need sanding down afterwards and does also create a lot of dust. Provided you know this in advance, and take necessary steps to prevent the dust filling every room in your house, it is probably your best bet.

Use a plasterer’s trowel for best results and, if you don’t already have one, look for one with a fairly flexible blade, as these are easier to use. Failing this, go for a flexible filling knife with as wide a blade as possible.

A hand-sander, as above, is another expense but saves on elbow-grease and will ensure you get a nice flat finish.

Note though, the finished surface is quite powdery so will, ideally, need sealing before painting or wallpapering over. Aretx Stabilex is the best product for this but you’ll need to get this from a trade merchants such as Brewers and it costs about £25 for 5 litres.

You can sometimes get away with just wiping the walls down with a wet sponge to remove the excess dust and then priming with a thin coat of paint or wallpaper adhesive but the the success of this method depends largely on the finish you are going to be using and a bit of luck too. So, obviously, I wouldn’t recommend this option.

Other than this, it may be worth getting a quote for someone to come and patch plaster the worst affected areas. When you take into account your own time plus the cost of materials it may well work out more economical?