Plaster wall? How to paint it?


Old 07-22-13, 12:18 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2
Plaster wall? How to paint it?

Hello All,

I am new to the forums, so I hope I am following the rules with this thread.

First, I am a new homeonwer, and I am completely new to the whole dyi mentality. As such, I am not to keen on how to fix things and never really grew up learning how; this is what has brought me here.

I recently removed some popcorn ceiling in my place and noticed there is this chalky material that was underneath. I believe that it is plaster, but I don't know for sure. Anyway, the plaster has what looks like elreical wires running through it. The wires run nearly the entire length of the cieling, and there are at least 3 dozen of them. (see attachment)

My intent (after removing the popcorn) was to simply sand and then paint the drywall, however, the plaster and wires were a complete surprise. I have talked with a a friend who basically recommended that I just prime the plaster and then mud it to get a smooth surface and then basically prime and then paint over the mud.

I am hoping any one of you may be able to help me. Is this something I should do, is there an easier way, or should I take down the plaster all together?

Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks in advanced.
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Old 07-22-13, 01:13 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 42,814
Welcome to the forums!

I suspect the wires are an electric ceiling heat system - it may or may not still be operational.

How much of the ceiling texture are you removing? Normally you just wet the texture and scrape. You shouldn't need to remove the mud that the wires are embedded in. If the chalk can't be brushed off it will need to be primed before you apply any joint compound - or the j/c won't adhere well.
Old 07-22-13, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 614
"I suspect the wires are an electric ceiling heat system"

Does such a thing really exist? That's the scariest thing I've ever heard.
Old 07-22-13, 03:04 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2
I was told that it actually might be some sort of heating system, but whenever I did research, the wires and layout were different. I doubt it's operational because there doesn't appear to be a control system for it and there is also central heating/AC. As far as the sanding goes, I just sanded to smooth the surface and to get rid of the leftover popcorn. My plan is to keep the plaster and wires intact because I don't know the condition of the drywall underneath and don't wont to create more work for myself.

I have finished the sanding, but just want to make sure that I prep the plaster correctly to be painted. Basically I don't just want to paint over the plaster; i want the ceiling to be smooth and so far I have been told to

1) Sand the plaster (to get rid of rough spots)
2) Mud the plaster (with a joint compount topping)
3) Sand the mud to smooth it
4) Prime the mud
5) Paint

Do have to use a joint compound to smooth the ceiling or would an oil based primer pretty much do the job of filling the plaster and making it smooth?
Old 07-23-13, 03:13 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 42,814
Paint will do very little to level out the texture! Generally sanding texture isn't overly productive, scraping and then skim coating works better. Basically you'll spread the j/c over the ceiling and sand when dry, be sure to check for any low spots, knife marks, etc. before you prime. While the primer is wet double check for any defects in the finish and go back and repair them after the primer is dry [don't forget to reprime those areas]

Back in the 50's and 60's ceiling heat was fairly common in the southeast. I don't know a lot about it other than it was expensive to use.

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