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If you need advice about a painting or decorating problem not covered elsewhere on the site please leave a comment below.

Hannah – I have an Edwardian mid-terrace house which had a water leak under the hallway floor. The leak was fixed six months ago but I don’t know how long it had been going on for. Dampness has crept up the hallway (party) wall from the site of the leak and fluffy salts have been coming out of the paint. It’s gypsum plastered. I’m not sure what to do – please can you advise? READ MORE…

The fluffy salts is efflorescence, which is a natural occurrence when moisture is drying out beneath the surface. Assuming the source of the leak is definitely fixed you should just wait until the drying out process has completed before attempting to redecorate.

This could take several months.

Helen – Hello , we have a small area of mould on an outside wall , the room has been replastered but a small patch of mould has bled through . We have some Zinnser 123 , will this work? READ MORE…

Zinnser will block the stain coming through, for now, but it won’t cure the problem. You’ll need to remove the mould with a fungicidal solution and allow the wall to dry out in depth otherwise the moisture will just show up some place else.

John – I purchased a house that was plastered and never painted for 12 years, I was advised to use a stabilizer before painting. I then used Pliolite paint as I thought living near the coast would be longer lasting, Several spots of paint have come out in what I can only call water blisters causing the paint to come off, and then a mould is on the spot where the paint was , Is there a cure for this? READ MORE…

There isn’t a cure, as such, since you would need to take yourself back to before you started.

Trapped moisture is forcing its way out hence the blistering and subsequent mould patches.

The best way forward is to scrape off any loose paint and allow plenty of time for any embedded moisture to work its way out – this may take a long time and I would certainly not attempt any repainting until late Summer. The mould should clear itself up once the source of moisture has gone but you can treat any large, persistent areas with a fungicidal wash

Patch paint with a regular water-based masonry paint (maybe thinned a little first coat to act as a primer), as you go. This may end up being a process you have to keep repeating or you may be fortunate and have seen the worst of it already.

In a domestic setting there is no use case for Pliolite paints and stabilising solutions should only be used where the surface is loose/powdery, and never as an overall primer.

Bhav – Our new neighbour is building a double storey wrap round extension to their house & this leaves only a 100mm gap between his & our main side walls. His garage was attached to our north facing main side wall & once demolished, we had to bear the expense of having it rendered properly.

Once he has built his extension, we will never ever be able to access our side wall due to both houses being only 100mm part & they run about 15m deep.

In view of this & to offer the very best possible protection for the longest possible time to our main side wall, which type of external Masonry paint should we use – a water based one like Dulux Weathershield, Wethertex AP77 or a rubberised Pliolite type one?

Which is the best & longest lasting water based & Pliolite paints to get for our situation please? READ MORE…

The answer is to use a standard water-based masonry paint to protect the wall surface from the weather, this is what it is designed to do.

There are mineral-based finishes that create a ‘chemical bond’ which can outperform regular masonry paint but they are expensive, require professional application and wouldn’t really be worth it in this situation.

So called ‘specialist paints’ such as Wethertex make great claims about flexibility but it is a film of paint at the end of the day and is not able to withstand the kind of forces that cause cracks in walls – which is how water will penetrate a building, not, as they imply, through some state of osmosis that only other brands of paint are susceptible to.

Pliolite paints are formulated to dry quickly so you can use them when rainfall is imminent – which isn’t much of a solution to your problem I am afraid. They offer no advanced protection and will perform worse than standard paints over time for the simple reason that they offer a compromise which is only advantageous for commercial applications (ie, you can the job done in less than perfect weather conditions).

One a positive note, your neighbours extension is going to offer a significant degree of shelter to this wall which would be otherwise fully exposed. So may actually be of some benefit?

Bernie – I have sanded back all the varnish and stain on a landing rail / shelf and filled multiple holes with Ronseal medium wood filler. While similar it is not the same; how do i stain the wood filler to get it to a more similar colour to the wood? (plan will be to stain whole thing to finish). Sanding out all the filler is not an option. READ MORE…

For small areas you can just dig out a small amount of filler and use coloured wax instead. You can mix together different shades to get a good match. Or use a touch-up pen.

For larger area, it’s not impossible but would take a lot of skill and patience, experimenting with different solid base colours for the filled areas so that when you apply a stain on top it matches (known as ‘woodgraining’).

Alternatively, try an opaque wood finish.

Dave – Hi I’ve got a problem with the second coat of silk emulsion blistering. It’s a brand name product, first coat went on with no problems, allowed 48 hrs before second coat was applied, and small blisters have appeared but only in certain areas, where as the rest of the rooms are absolutely fine. The exact same paint has been used walls and ceilings throughout the property, the confusing thing is why it has only been in a few small areas and only the second coat? READ MORE…

Blistering is usually caused by trapped moisture or surface contamination, it sounds like the latter in your case and is very unlikely to be anything to do with the paint itself.

It isn’t uncommon for such problems to only occur after the second coat because the containment is water-based and becomes soluble when the first coat is applied, and then migrates to the surface.

What I would so is scrape/rub down the blistered paint back to firm surface and wash down the area thoroughly before repainting. You may need to use a fine surface filler to get a level finish.

If the blistering is severe it may be worth using a shellac-based primer such as Zinsser B-I-N just to make sure the surface is fully sealed. Do this before applying filler and any more emulsion.

Nicola – I just moved into a house where the paint on the walls comes off dusty and the paint wipes off the wall easily. I’m working on the assumption that the plaster wasn’t sealed. Do I need to wash off all the paint and start again or is there a way to retrospectively seal the plaster through or over the top of the existing paint? Thanks in advance! READ MORE…

Painting over it with a thinned-down coat of vinyl based emulsion will bind the surface together but, as you suggest, the existing coating is not properly adhered to the surface and will come away eventually.

It really depends how bad the problem is and whether you can live it?

If you are able to wash it off then that is the ideal answer. One other solution is cross-lining the walls with lining paper but it would need to be done professionally and isn’t a permanent fix.

Tia – I recently had my utility ceiling skimmed, it had previously been patched after my toilet leaked and caused some damage. Prior to painting I had a decorator out for a quote and he advised me to use a stain blocker prior to painting the ceiling as otherwise the stain would show through. I used everbuild stain block aerosol and have now done 2 coats of emulsion but can see a sort of dark patch from what I think is the stain block rather than the water damage. Basically where do I go from here?! Tia READ MORE….

Water stains tend to be light brown in colour so it is indeed likely the stain block that is showing through. You can get this when using different kinds of paint and usually a couple of extra coats will do the trick.

Do two coats just over the affected area to ensure it is covered and then do one final coat over the whole ceiling to finish.

Chris – Morning, have a small ceiling that has had water leak onto it from a shower above some time ago, the stain follows the seam between two plaster boards. Painted a wickes stain block onto the stain over covering with a margin of 75mm. Despite 2 coats of white emulsion I can still see the stain block stripe very markedly, any help please? READ MORE…

I am not familiar with Wickes Stain Block but my first thoughts were that it is likely a water based product and, as a consequence, will have a limited effect on water based stains. It does say on the site that it is solvent based though.

The link to the product data sheet, however, is for another product entirely, so not much help there.

Another coat of the stain block you have might do the trick but, if not, I suggest trying a spirit based stain blocker such as Polycell aerosol stain block or, alternatively, a traditional oil-based white undercoat.

John – Hello, could you advise the best method for removing blistered masonry paint from a harled wall in preparation for repainting. READ MORE…

As with any kind of textured surface there is rarely a simple answer. It depends, to a great extent, on how widespread the problem is. Small, localised issues are easy enough to resolve with a scraper or, sometimes, a heat gun. Larger areas can sometimes be tackled with a high pressure washer and/or physical scraping.

Blistering is usally indicative of trapped moisture so you will need to also ensure the wall gets time to thoroughly dry out before attempting to repaint.

Claire – Hi there, our exterior walls were painted around 4 years ago (a few months after they were plastered) and have faded quite badly – one painter referred to it as ‘mapping’. There isn’t any current signs of flaking although this particular painter said this could happen – should I believe him? Did they just fade because they weren’t coated enough or poor quality paint? We are having the walls repainted and was wondering if we need to prime or use anything else to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Which paints would you recommend? We want to paint in a shade of farrow and ball and previously had used sandtex and got it colour matched. READ MORE…

When you say the walls were painted a few months after being plastered (rendered) I think the problem may be that that the render had not dried out fully in depth and this can sometimes cause problems such as you have described.

I’m not familiar with the term ‘mapping’ but you often see what you describe happen on new build housing where the painting has been completed more or less as soon as the walls have been newly rendered.

Since you say the coating seems OK otherwise I wouldn’t worry about it. People sometimes suggest the need of a primer because it obviously increases the price of the job.

I wouldn’t recommend Farrow & Ball for exterior use though since their formulations are weighted towards giving a rich aesthetic effect rather than long term performance.

Sandtex or Dulux Weathershield will perform better, even if you have to compromise slightly on your preferred colour since the matching can never be 100% accurate due to the different formulations.

Kris – Hi, I have painted my daughters bed with a high VOC gloss and now realise I need a non-toxic paint instead. Can I just paint over the high VOC gloss with a low/zero VOC furniture paint? READ MORE…

The release of harmful fumes occurs mostly during the painting and drying process. Therefore, so long as the room is well ventilated and you leave sufficient time between painting the bed and and its eventual use, the long term effects are minimal.

If you want to be absolutely safe though, you can indeed paint again with a low/zero VOC paint and this will have the effect of sealing-in the previous finish.

Grace – Hi, we have a long standing exterior masonry wall which is the dividing wall between our driveway and our neighbours. Over the past couple of years after painting with masonry paint the paint has started to peel and flake off and looks terrible. The last time it happened I contacted the manufacturer of the paint and they said that the photographs showed that it was the paint underneath the most recent coats that was the problem as it was pulling away from the wall taking the newer coats with it. They also said there was some evidence of mould and I wondered before we paint the wall again what do you recommend we do to provide a good key and base for the new paint? Do we need to use a stabilising solution or anti fungal? Your help and advice would be greatly appreciated. READ MORE…

Not much I can add other than what you’ve already been advised, which sounds fair. The paint is only going to be as good as the surface you’re applying it to. So any loose material and mould needs to be removed before you do anything.

You don’t give any information about this wall or its construction/design, so impossible to give any further advice on this.

As for applying a stabiliser, there is ample information already here that you haven’t read so I suggest you start there.

Hazel – Please can you recommend a dirt and moss resistant masonry paint. READ MORE…

There are a few specialist manufacturers of exterior paint that claim to me mould and dirt resistant but I am not not going to recommend any of them since a lot depends on the type of surface, its current condition and location as to whether these paints have any chance of providing better protection than a regular masonry paint.

There is also no factual information that I am aware of that proves any of these paints actually work, other than their own publicity.

Hello, I’m trying to repaint an old granite slab carvings which is used outdoors. What are the most durable options that I have? I heard about some acrylic based paints that is claimed to last 10 years or polyurethanes, but I come across waterglass based paints that are supposedly last longer. Are these the best options that I have or are there better options? READ MORE…

The paints you mention will perform well as a surface finish but your biggest problem is obtaining a successful bond with the granite surface to begin with.

First you’ll need to remove any shine from the surface with fine wire wool and thoroughly degrease the surface before painting.

A surface preparation treatment such as Owatrol ESP will be your ideal first step. This will help any subsequent coats to adhere to the surface without the risk of peeling or scratching off.

Also bear in mind that most products you use as a top coat will have a curing time that goes far beyond surface drying times (sometimes a few weeks) so you’ll need to avoid the risk of damage during this time until the paint has fully hardened.

The exception to this rule is with with some industrial quality 2-part products which will cure more or less straight away.

Ahmed – Hi, I am having a problem with damp in my upstairs bedroom wall, directly underneath the window. I just had my windows replaced 1 year ago, there was no damp in this area prior to that. There is a lot of black mould gathering now, and paint flaking off. Could this be solely down to the windows not being fitted properly, or could there be another underlining problem? The damp-proof company said there’s no need to damp proof higher up on the rest of the wall, as he said his damp meter was showing that part as being okay. How reliable is this information? READ MORE…

Hard to say without seeing the problem but such problems are usually caused by either condensation or trapped moisture.

It could be that your old windows were a bit drafty but were also providing adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of condensation in this area.

Or, they have used a hard, non-breathable damp-proofing plaster and/or paint finish which is holding in moisture behind the surface. This could cause a cold-spot which is allowing moisture in the air to condense on the surface – hence the black mould. This would also explain why paint is flaking-off because the trapped moisture is forcing its way out.

As I say, pure guesswork on my part, but you will need to get to the root of the problem before attempting to redecorate.