DIY cosmetic repairs

Recommendation points



Redecorating – the concept is largely conditional, since the complexity and labor intensity of the complex of works to be performed depend on the structure of the building, the initial quality of construction and finishing work, as well as on the time and conditions of operation of the building in general and a particular room in particular. Let’s make a reservation right away that the alignment of walls and ceilings in order to bring them to meet the requirements of European standards goes far beyond the scope of cosmetic repairs, and therefore is not considered in the proposed article. Likewise, cosmetic repairs in kitchens, bathrooms, toilets, etc., as a rule, involve the involvement of qualified specialists (plumbers, electricians, tilers) and the use of specialized materials (moisture-resistant, waterproofing). Most of these works can be done on their own, but this is a topic for a separate article..

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Simple cosmetic repairs, which will be discussed, can be described as the restoration of the previous state of residential and office premises without carrying out work to replace the types of finishes.
This complex of works includes re-gluing wallpaper, repainting ceilings, painting windows, doors, baseboards and platbands, as well as polishing parquet floors and varnishing them. Parquet restoration is a rather complicated and time-consuming process, requiring certain qualifications of performers and the use of specialized equipment. For this reason, it is better to entrust the parquet work to a specialist – any initiative aimed at saving money can turn into even greater costs. At the same time, all other operations included in the program of simple cosmetic repair, if desired, time and minimal skills, can be performed independently. Since the best results are achieved only in the case of using proven techniques and using proven materials (unfortunately, not always the cheapest), we recommend that in the process of carrying out the work follow the recommendations of the staff of the Special Coatings Team (BSP) of the ARA Center, who were directly involved in writing this article.

Preparation for work

First of all, the room is freed from furniture (if possible). The remaining pieces of furniture are grouped in the center of the room and carefully covered with foil. In any case, you need to provide free access to the walls around the entire perimeter and the ability to perform work over the entire ceiling area.

If it is not planned to replace the floor covering, it must be protected from dirt and possible mechanical damage. Parquet, laminate or carpet must be covered with sheets of hardboard or packaging cardboard (clean and dry), on top of which a thick plastic wrap is laid (with an overlap of adjacent panels of at least 10 cm). In order to improve the protective properties, it is recommended to glue the joints of the film panels with adhesive tape (scotch tape). Coverings based on polyvinyl chloride (PVC), often incorrectly called linoleum, can be easily washed from most types of dirt, so it is enough to cover the floor with thick plastic wrap to protect them. In the course of work, the greatest amount of dirt is formed around the perimeter of the room. In this regard, it is advisable to glue the protective film with adhesive tape to the baseboards..
Skirting boards are only dismantled if they are replaced, the flooring is replaced or the parquet is scraped. If repainting of skirting boards is not required, they should be protected with masking tape. Masking tape is a special adhesive tape on a paper basis, which, after completion of work, can be easily removed (unlike scotch tape) from the protected surface.
Decorative frames from sockets and switches are removed, and the “filling” is sealed with masking tape. Naturally, all electrical circuits must be previously de-energized..

Dismantling old coatings

The preparation of the walls and ceiling of the premises begins with the dismantling (removal) of the existing coatings. Currently, the most common type of ceiling coating is water-based paint. In the houses of the old building, the ceilings were trimmed with lime whitewash. Ceilings painted with oil or alkyd enamels are much less common..
Water-based paint and enamels do not dissolve with water, so it is almost impossible to wash them off the ceiling surface. It is enough to remove the peeling areas of the coating with a steel trowel and open the cracks with the corner of the same trowel. It is advisable to treat the enamel with sandpaper to increase roughness and improve adhesion to newly applied layers..
Lime whitewash must be washed off to the underlying layer of putty. This is a simple, but rather laborious operation, the thoroughness of which depends on the quality of adhesion of the new coating to the base (the residues of whitewash are a separating layer that significantly reduces the adhesion of newly applied coatings, which leads to the formation of bubbles). A layer of whitewash, the thickness of which can reach several millimeters, is soaked with water using a paint roller and removed with a steel spatula. Sometimes it is not possible to completely remove whitewash in one pass; in this case, the operation is repeated many times. Remnants of whitewash are washed off the ceiling surface with a wet sponge.

The technology for dismantling old wallpaper does not fundamentally differ from the technology for removing lime whitewash: peeling fragments of wallpaper are peeled off “dry”, areas firmly glued to the wall are soaked with water and removed with a spatula. In old houses, wallpaper is often pasted in several layers, and it was customary to paste over the wall itself (to level the surface) with newspapers (while renovating his apartment, the author read articles half a century ago with great interest). In such cases, it remains only to be patient, continuing to consistently soak and remove the wallpaper layer by layer..
Some types of modern wallpaper (such as “triplex”) can be easily removed from the surface of the wall, leaving a layer of thin purl paper on its surface. If the wall is flat enough and does not need to be repaired, this layer should not be removed, as the new wallpaper adheres perfectly to it..

Old paintwork on doors, platbands and window frames can only be removed if cracked and peeled off. Window frames are most susceptible to this “disease”, the restoration of which undoubtedly belongs to the category of the most labor-intensive operations. Nevertheless, the complete removal of the peeling coating in this case should be considered mandatory, since the local elimination of damage with putty and subsequent repainting, most likely, will not give positive results: after a few months, the frames will again become unusable..
There are two methods for removing oil (alkyd) enamel: chemical and thermal. In the first case, the paint and varnish layer is softened with the help of special chemical compositions known as “removers” and removed with a spatula or scrapers of various shapes, which can be made from scrap materials or bought at a construction tool store. Rinse is a specially selected mixture of solvents and (or) alkalis with a thickener that prevents the composition from drying out quickly and the formation of smudges on vertical surfaces. Washes are expensive and time consuming to work with. More productive is the thermal method, which involves softening the paint under the influence of high temperature, which is provided by a jet of hot air generated by a special hair dryer. The paint softens in small areas and is removed with a scraper. Unfortunately, such a hairdryer is quite expensive, since it belongs to the category of a professional construction tool (a hairdryer is absolutely not suitable for hair styling, although it does not differ in its principle of operation).
Note that the restoration of skirting boards with complete removal of the old paintwork and subsequent elimination of defects with putty is likely to be economically unprofitable..

Preparation of surfaces for finishing

After completing the dismantling of old coatings, it is necessary to eliminate defects in the walls and ceiling. To facilitate the penetration of the repair material (putty) into the cracks, they must be expanded (expanded), the damaged areas must be cleaned of weakly adhering fragments, and the exfoliated (“bubbling”) areas of the plaster layer must be completely removed. Surfaces prepared in this way must be treated with a primer for hygroscopic (moisture-absorbing) substrates.

Primers – aqueous solutions of polymers containing long polymer chains capable of deeply penetrating into the porous structure of concrete or plaster and fixing inside it, significantly strengthening the surface layer of the base and eliminating the formation of dust, which, in turn, provides the maximum level of adhesion of the repair compounds to the base material.

After the primer has dried, deep potholes and places where the plaster layer has fallen off are sealed with cement-lime plaster. In extreme cases (to speed up the process), you can use alabaster or gypsum-based plaster mortar such as “Rotband” (TIGI Knauf). As a rule, this operation is carried out with a rectangular stainless steel float, an extremely convenient and versatile tool. For filling deep cracks in concrete and brick structures, a quick-hardening cement-based repair putty can be recommended..

The repaired areas are primed, and the surfaces are finally leveled with a putty, for example, “Vetonit KR” or “Vetonit LR” (Optirok). In the process of this operation, minor irregularities in the base are eliminated and small cracks are filled. It should be borne in mind that the thickness of the putty layer should not exceed 2 mm; greater thickness is provided by applying several layers, and each subsequent layer is applied after the previous layer has completely dried. Serious cracks on the ceiling are recommended to be additionally glued with strips of plaster fiberglass mesh with a cell size of 2×2 mm. The use of a “serpyanka” tape made of non-woven material for this purpose does not exclude the likelihood of the crack re-emerging on the ceiling surface. The technology for gluing the tape is as follows: a layer of putty is applied to the ceiling surface, the fiberglass mesh is pressed into the putty and rubbed with a spatula. Excess putty, squeezed out through the mesh cells, is removed with a spatula and returned to the container for reuse.
Is it necessary to putty the walls and ceiling completely, or can you limit yourself to leveling individual sections? If you plan to decorate the walls with dense wallpaper of dark colors, thick embossed wallpaper or wallpaper for painting, there is no need to putty the entire surface. Through thin light wallpaper, unpacked areas will shine through with dark spots: in this case, the walls are completely putty.
It is not necessary to completely putty the ceiling covered with water-emulsion paint (it is enough to restrict yourself to the putty of the damaged areas), but it should be borne in mind that the texture of the finishing paint layer on the putty and non-putty areas can vary greatly, which is especially noticeable with sliding lighting. Material compatibility problems often arise when painting enamelled surfaces: some water-based paints do not adhere well to enamel. Based on this, it is possible to recommend in all cases to completely cover the surface of the ceiling with a thin (“smoothed”) layer of putty. Dried putty is carefully processed with fine-grained emery paper or abrasive mesh. The use of an abrasive mesh provides the best result.

Methods for preventing re-cracking

The likelihood of cracking depends mainly on the design of the ceiling. Ceilings made from one-piece reinforced concrete slabs are generally not subject to cracking. If there is a joint of concrete slabs on the ceiling, a crack in this place is very likely. The most difficult situation is in old houses with wooden floors (often with insufficient rigidity), the ceilings in which are covered with a layer of plaster. Plasterboard ceilings are also susceptible to cracking, which sooner or later crack at the joints of the sheets, no matter how well these joints are sealed.
As practice shows, the likelihood of the reappearance of even carefully repaired ceiling cracks is very high. To combat this unpleasant phenomenon, the use of fiberglass ceiling wallpaper, known as “cobweb”, can be recommended. A cobweb is a rolled non-woven fiberglass fabric with a thickness of 1.5 – 2.0 mm and a relatively loose structure. The considerable thickness and loose structure of the cobweb does not allow the resulting cracks to emerge on the ceiling surface.

Separate pieces of cobweb are glued end-to-end with wallpaper glue. The surface of the ceiling, prepared as described above (defects are repaired, cracks are sealed with fiberglass mesh, putty and processed with sandpaper), is primed with glue diluted with clean water by 20-30%. After the primer has dried, a layer of glue of normal concentration is applied to the ceiling with a roller, the cobwebs are glued end-to-end and rubbed with a stiff brush.
Rubber gloves should be used when working with spider webs, as with all materials containing fiberglass. Note that the finishing painting of the cobweb completely excludes the emission of glass dust and makes the use of fiberglass wallpaper absolutely harmless to health.
Choosing the right adhesive is essential. There are cases when the glue sold with the cobweb did not provide sufficient water resistance to the joint, which led to the formation of bubbles, wrinkles and yellow spots during the application of the finishing layer of paint. Practical experience with cobweb allows us to recommend QUELYD “Special Vinyl” glue for gluing it, which is characterized by high and, what is important, stable quality..

It is almost impossible to get perfect joints of the cobweb panels, so they need to be putty. This operation is performed after priming the entire surface of the ceiling with water-dispersion paint diluted with pure water by 10-30%. It is impossible to specify the exact ratio of paint to water, since paints of different brands differ very much in density. After the primer has dried, the joints and minor surface defects are putty with “Vetonit KR” or “Vetonit LR”, the putty areas are sanded with fine-grained emery paper, and the ceiling is finally painted with water-emulsion paint.
In older houses with hardwood floors, even using a cobweb may not be enough. In these cases, it is recommended to completely cover the surface of the ceiling with a plaster fiberglass mesh with a cell of 2×2 mm. The mesh is putty, sanded, primed with diluted wallpaper glue and pasted over with a cobweb, as described above. This “layered cake” provides the maximum degree of protection against cracking on the ceiling surface. More details about the use of glass cloth plaster mesh can be found in “TC” 1/2001.

Ceiling painting

Finish painting of the ceiling is done with a paint roller (preferably new) with a medium pile. Foam rollers, as well as rollers used to apply the primer, are not recommended. A special plastic tray for paint significantly speeds up and facilitates the work, allowing you to squeeze out excess paint and distribute it evenly over the entire surface of the roller. To facilitate the cleaning process, the bath can be lined with a piece of plastic wrap, the edges of which are fixed around the outer perimeter of the bath with adhesive tape (tape). After completion of the work, the film is removed and discarded along with the remaining paint, and the bath remains clean.
Currently, a huge number of brands of water-dispersion paints are presented on the construction market. Objectively, the quality of the paint can be assessed only by trial painting. The relatively inexpensive but high-quality water-dispersion acrylic paint “VDA-V” (Moscow plant SKIM) has proven itself very well..
The prepared ceiling is primed with diluted water-dispersion paint. This operation allows you to reveal minor defects, almost invisible on the putty, but unpainted surface. After filling and sanding the defective areas, the ceiling is painted with undiluted paint. The consumption of paint is determined by its properties and, first of all, by the hiding power (comprehensive information on the properties of paints and varnishes in “TS” 1/2001). It should be borne in mind that on surfaces covered with a cobweb, paint consumption increases by 20-30%, which is due to the looseness of this material.

Wallpapering

After completing the process of painting the ceiling, you can start gluing wallpaper.
For gluing wallpaper, specialized adhesives are used. Wallpaper glue, along with high adhesive properties, must have a certain level of moisture resistance, effectively resist the development of fungi and mold (fungicidal properties), do not leave stains on the wallpaper and, finally, be easy to stir and not form lumps. Unfortunately, not all brands of adhesives provide the same good results. Professional decorators recommend QUELYD “Express” glue (white-green packaging) for all types of paper wallpaper, and the already mentioned QUELYD “Special vinyl” (white-purple packaging) for vinyl, textile and paintable wallpaper.

Glue preparation (according to the instructions) is usually straightforward. To exclude the formation of lumps, the water in the container (bucket) must be “untwisted” with a stick until a stable funnel is formed, into which the contents of the package are poured out in a thin stream. The liquid in the bucket must be continuously stirred until the glue is completely dissolved.
Before gluing the wallpaper, the entire surface of the walls is primed with glue diluted with clean water by 20-30%.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, glue is applied to the back of the wallpaper, but some types of wallpaper (for example, non-woven) provide for the application of glue directly to the wall, which must be indicated in the instructions for use.

Before starting work, a vertical line is struck on the wall (using a plumb line), which serves as a guide when gluing the first panel. Modern wallpaper is glued only end-to-end, so the sequence of installation of canvases (from window to door or from door to window) does not matter.
Wallpaper is cut into pieces with a certain allowance (50-70 mm) along the length. In the process of performing this operation, it is necessary to take into account the rapport (frequency of repetition) of the pattern, the presence of which requires careful selection of adjacent panels in height to match the pattern. Some types of wallpaper (plain, paintable wallpaper without an ordered texture, etc.) do not have a pattern repeat, which almost completely eliminates the generation of waste and significantly speeds up work with them.

The reverse side of the wallpaper is covered with glue (using a paint roller), the pieces are folded in half (with glue inside) and kept in this state for the time indicated on the package (usually 3-7 minutes). It is not necessary to maintain this time with an accuracy of a second, but it is also not desirable to “overexpose” too much. First of all, this concerns cheap paper wallpapers, which can swell to such an extent that they begin to creep in the hands..
Wallpaper soaked in glue is applied to the wall, wrinkles and bubbles are smoothed out with a stiff brush. It is not recommended to use a rag for this purpose, because on some types of wallpaper – most often paper – paint may smear. When gluing paper wallpaper, you need to be careful that the glue is not squeezed out of the joints. From the surface of vinyl wallpaper, the glue can be easily removed with a damp cloth, they practically do not paint, so it is more convenient to work with them.
As the pieces are cut to length, excess material will form after gluing to the ceiling and skirting boards. This excess is cut with a sharp knife along a metal ruler. A dull knife crushes and tears the paper, so you should change the blade often enough.

The lower edge of the glued panel is cut so that it folds slightly (4-6 mm) onto the horizontal shelf of the plinth.
Quite often there are problems with gluing the border to the surface of vinyl wallpaper. Even the use of specialized border adhesives does not provide an acceptable result: after a short period of time, the border begins to peel off, and sometimes it just falls off. Only gluing the border tape directly onto the wall surface guarantees a long-term wallpaper with this decorative element..

The technology for gluing the border is as follows. A horizontal line is bounced around the entire perimeter of the room at the desired height. After that, the upper (above the curb) part of the wallpaper is glued, the lower edge of which is cut along the line drawn using a sharp knife and a metal ruler. The border, pre-impregnated with glue, is glued end-to-end to the edge of the wallpaper, and its lower edge (15-20 mm) is not pressed against the wall. The bottom row of wallpaper is wound under the curb and cut off along its bottom edge. The cut strip is removed, after which the border is finally glued to the wall. This work requires a lot of attention and accuracy, but ensures a perfect (and durable) connection of the border tape with the wallpaper..
As a rule, gluing a paper border over paper wallpaper does not cause any difficulties, but the result is worse. In this case, it is also recommended to adhere to the technology given above.

The last tip: in the process of gluing the wallpaper and before it dries completely, it is necessary to exclude any possibility of drafts. Drafts cause uneven drying of the wallpaper and, as a result, their uneven shrinkage, which can lead to creeping joints, poor-quality adhesion of panels, and in severe cases – to a violation of the integrity of the wallpaper.

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