Painting a bathroom ceiling & problems

  Gordon Freeman 14:51 02 Dec 2015

OK, I'm 'googled' have come here for some advice please as I'm going around in circles.

I have a bathroom ceiling which I'm painting. Previous paint, over shower cubicle, was flaking, so have fetched all flaking stuff off and got down to plaster in some areas. I suspect I'll need to seal these areas before applying any new paint. I cannot, though, get all the non-flaking paint off, even with a sander or scraper. I've now got an uneven surface which I need to sort out.

Can anyone offer a solution on what to do/what to use, preferably the most easiest. Been reading about Zinsser, but not sure if this can be applied over existing paint, or whether it will ensure a flat surface.

Thanks in advance.

  Forum Editor 15:15 02 Dec 2015

Go to B&Q and buy some Polycell white fine surface filler. Get a plastic surface filling tool - one of those flat applicators with one chamfered edge.

Moisten the bare plaster areas, and apply the filler thinly over the blemishes. leaving as little excess on the surface as possible - don't worry about a perfect finish at this point.

When the filler is thoroughly dry and hard, use a sanding block with fine-grade green sandpaper and remove the filler until just the damaged areas are filled. They will not be perfect, but now you go over them again with filler (after you have wiped the area with a damp cloth to remove all traces of sanding dust.

When that application has dried do the sanding process again, and this time go gently and carefully.

With patience, you'll end up with a perfect surface, onto which you can apply two coats of paint (after you've wiped of all sanding dust again).

Good luck, and ignore anyone who tells you that you should use a filler knife for this job.

  Govan1x 16:15 02 Dec 2015

Hmm Are we talking about emulsion or paint.

Never heard of anyone putting paint on a bathroom ceiling before.

Just checked my ceiling and I must have papered it many years ago hence the emulsion I suppose.

Even if it was plasterboard I would use emulsion. Just wonder if you call emulsion paint as well England.

  Govan1x 16:16 02 Dec 2015

In England I should have said.

  wee eddie 16:33 02 Dec 2015

40 years ago they painted Bathrooms

  Gordon Freeman 16:48 02 Dec 2015

FE: I knew you'd have the answer! Oracle.

Govan1x/wee eddie: the house is c. 10 yrs old now and yes, all bathrooms in the house have emulsion painted ceilings...I thought it was normal? Given how tough it is to get off, I suspect some other stuff (anti-moisture) has been put on first.

The project has developed a little further since first post. Using a bladed scraper (found in garage - one of those 'where did I put that?' items) I've actually managed to get all paint off the ceiling above the shower cubicle.

Outcome of this is I am down to plaster above cubicle; good thing is there's no moisture, whereas the rest of bathroom is still covered in decent white emulsion, which I want to keep. I don't want to scrape the whole bathroom, I don't have the time or inclination.

What's the best stuff (paint-wise) to put on this newly revealed plaster, given it's directly above the shower? Normal emulsion again, or something like the Zinsser stuff?

And how do I ensure I meet the same level as the existing paint & ensure it doesn't peel there when I apply new paint?

Thanks again.

  tullie 16:52 02 Dec 2015

I painted my bathroom ceiling about a month ago,semi gloss.enquiries to friends and family tell me that they all have painted ceilings.Why are some people here saying its so unusual?Why use water based paint in a bathroom?

  Forum Editor 18:34 02 Dec 2015


"Hmm Are we talking about emulsion or paint."

yes, in England emulsion is paint.

  Aitchbee 18:37 02 Dec 2015

In Scotland, emulsion is also known as white-wash.

  Forum Editor 18:40 02 Dec 2015

"What's the best stuff (paint-wise) to put on this newly revealed plaster, given it's directly above the shower? Normal emulsion again, or something like the Zinsser stuff?"

Use one of the special bathroom emulsions - you'll get it at B&Q or Homebase. Before you apply it, spray the whole of the cubicle ceiling with Stainblock. Then apply the paint.

"And how do I ensure I meet the same level as the existing paint & ensure it doesn't peel there when I apply new paint"

Feather the edge, using the aforementioned fine surface filler. Sand the filler so that the join is virtually indistinguishable - you'll never get it absolutely perfect - and then overspray with Stainblock. Take care over it, don't rush and it should be fine.

  Forum Editor 18:48 02 Dec 2015


"Why use water based paint in a bathroom?"

Because it looks far better than oil-based paint, it is (now) just as durable if you use one of the modern water-resistant types specially made for bathrooms and kitchens, and it poses less of a health hazard.

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