How to Treat Damp Walls before Painting

Wall dampness usually smells unpleasant, causing health issues in extreme cases. It also affects your paint finish. Painting damp walls and ceiling

Wall dampness usually smells unpleasant, causing health issues in extreme cases. It also affects your paint finish. Painting damp walls and ceiling is the most common mistake that people make. The paint bubbles and peels off once dry, returning you back to where you started.

Fortunately, wall dampness can be treated by yourself without the help of any professional in most cases. We can deal with the underlying issues with, whether it's condensation, rising damp or penetrating dampness. There are many methods and solutions that you can use to stop the moisture from reappearing.

In this article, you will get a deep and thorough knowledge about identifying dampness, fixing the causes and treating the walls before painting.


Does your home suffer from wall dampness?

Damp is a common problem in many homes, irrespective of the building type. Wall dampness in the home gives an unpleasant, unnatural and cold feeling. Damp is moisture that makes its way into the structure of your home.

Damp left unchecked can be dangerous for your health and your property alike. The water slowly erodes into the building, rots timber, and aids mould penetrate the walls.

How can you identify wall dampness?

The perfect sign of dampness is mould, if the damp is present for a longer time. Mould is a common type of fungus, grows on the surfaces of walls and thrives in humid conditions. It is mainly found in bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens.

You frequently detect mould in patches far from the source because it releases microscopic spores that can enter the air and spread throughout a room.

Sometimes, excessive condensation can also be a cause of dampness. Discolouring or peeling of paint or wallpaper and fragmenting plaster are also identification signs.

There are three types of dampness, and we will spot how to fix them.

Three types of damp

Inhaling dampness, or the mould spores, can cause breathing issues such as asthma and nasal congestion. Some allergic reactions equivalent to hay fever may also occur. Touching the mould can cause skin irritation and rashes that can be spread, for example to your eyes when you rub them.

Condensation is caused because of inadequate ventilation.

The most common cause of dampness, which can often result in mould appearing in your bathroom or kitchen, is poor ventilation. Condensation can also be built on exterior walls that can be colder.

Rising damp

Rising damp may typically be seen in homes that are 20 year or older properties. The damp rises from the moist soil beneath the property and into the foundation or ground floors of houses.

Nowadays, properties are built up with damp proof solutions that are a kind of waterproof membrane that acts as a barrier between the soil and house. Older houses used blue brick damp proof courses. However, over time the damp resistance of the brick reduces and damp begins to penetrate.

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp occurs when water from your exterior walls gets through to the interior walls. It happens in cases of leaking roofs, loose tiles, blocked gutter, solid walls or damaged exterior walls.


Causes of condensed, rising and penetrating damp

·       Beads like water can be seen on walls, and dampness can be felt when touched.

·       Rising dampness shows visible stains, tide marks on ground floor walls or mould growing in corners of walls at low level.

·       Penetrating damp shows as a damp patch on your inside wall. It is usually seen on high corners of walls or even visible as watermarks that are damaging your plaster.


Fixing condensed, rising and penetrating damp

The easiest damp that can be fixed quickly is condensation. It can be solved easily and quickly without any expert help. Some steps below may help you out.

·       Opening your windows more frequently to ventilate your house can be a good idea. Getting a dehumidifier and using it for a few hours is another option. Not drying clothes on your radiators will make a noticeable difference.

·       Getting a damp-proof course can significantly reduce rising damp problems. It is pretty expensive but will save you from any future deterioration. 

·       Finding out the main cause - whether it's pipeline, gutter or roof leakage water that is making its way into the inside of walls can fix the problem.


Can damp walls be painted?

No, damp walls cannot be painted. We should fix the underlying issues first before painting them. When the damp walls are painted, it doesn’t stop the dampness on walls from increasing.


How to seal a damp wall before painting?

People usually get confused between a damp or condensation problem. Condensation and a level of dampness that rises due to moisture in the air can accompany dampness in the wall. It is not advisable to fix ventilation until you have identified a damp problem, as it will leave you with no solution.

Here are 4 ways to treat mould and dampness on walls to live a healthier life and a beautiful home.

1.    Solving the cause of damp

Once you recognise where the leakage is from a blocked gutter, pipeline or exterior walls or requirement of a damp proof course, and the cause is rectified, the rest of the steps are easy.

2.    Letting the walls dry 

Once the cause is remedied, the damaged walls must be dried before treating them. The primary key is ventilation that circulates the air or a dehumidifier. You will see improvements like wet patches fading off. Now, if your home consists of peeling wallpapers, tide marks or bubbling paints, you will at least know how to fix it fully. 

3.    Damp treatment

Once the walls are thoroughly dried, repair the cracks and holes with wall putty and plaster it down smoothly. A damp proof paint, dampness treatment or a stain blocker paint prevents damp and covers stains, so it doesn’t penetrate to the next layer of emulsion.


Understanding the causes of dampness in the home is the first step in dealing with the problem. Using the above procedures, wall dampness is quite manageable even though fixing and treating it can take some time. If the damp is caused by internal factors (such as condensation), you might be able to fix the issue on your own. Otherwise, we strongly advise contacting a plumbing and drainage expert if the cause is related to plumbing or drainage problems.


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