4 Reasons Paint Won’t Stick to Plaster and What to Do About It

Have you ever had the frustrating experience of having paint adhere to one part of a wall, but not another? Or the paint won’t adhere to the surface at all? It turns out that several factors contribute to paint not sticking.

4 Reasons Paint Doesn’t Adhere to Plaster

Paint doesn’t stick to plaster if the painted surface is still damp and cold. Dust particles and over-polishing plaster also reduces paint adherence. Properly drying plaster or cleaning it thoroughly makes paint stick better.

1.       The wall is still damp

Moisture is bad for paint. Not taking steps to alleviate a damp atmosphere can result in major problems down the road.

In the case of the often damp bathroom, for instance, you may find that certain paints have bubbled or cracked on the walls due to the continual presence of moisture. And things may get even worse as time goes on. You will make the problem worse by allowing even more moisture to seep into your wall through the space between the paint and the wall.

2.       Dust and static dust

The most common cause of paint that does not adhere properly is dirty walls. Paint won’t adhere correctly to practically any kind of particle, and that includes dust. There are a variety of different kinds of filth that can be found on walls, ranging from dense dust particles to the gases that build up when cooking.

Before applying paint, it is recommended by every type of paint to clean the walls. If you skip this step, you will have the most common problem with the paint not sticking, as well as the most common problem with the paint looking uneven on the walls.

3.       Over-polished plaster

In the same way that improperly mixed paint won’t adhere to walls, paint or primer that has been overworked can have the same effect. The good news is that this problem has a straightforward solution: simply apply less paint. If you’ve already painted a wall, you must refrain from painting over it multiple times. This will not only make the end look of your paint seem terrible, but it also has the potential to cause clumping in the paint.

This can result in paint that spills and doesn’t stick, paint that balls up when it dries, and an overall unappealing appearance. Basically, you should apply one coat of paint, wait for it to dry, and then apply another.

4.       The walls are cold

The cold is not the paint’s friend. When heated, it dries more quickly and has less of a tendency to drip. This connects back to what we discussed before about how you shouldn’t paint on damp surfaces. The presence of moisture in the air during periods of cold weather makes it more probable for precipitation, such as rain or dew, to condense on freshly painted surfaces while they cure. In addition to making it more difficult for the paint to adhere to the surface and dry, the freezing temperatures will eventually lead to the paint splitting.

How To Make Paint Stick to Plaster

1. Wash the wall with sugar soap

Even if the surfaces don’t appear to be dirty, it is necessary to clean them thoroughly before painting them. Any residue left on the wall will prevent the newly applied paint from adhering properly. Sugar soap is an effective way to remove grease and grime from surfaces. However, you must ensure that all traces of sugar soap are removed from the surface before painting.

2. Give the wall light sanding

Sanding down your plaster walls is necessary to smooth out any rough spots that were left behind after the previous procedures were completed. You get one more chance to smooth the uneven spots on the walls before you prime the surface. Sandpapers ranging from coarse to fine should be used to produce the best results.

Sanding is usually an essential step that must be completed before the surface can be painted successfully. Painting may not adhere properly to certain surfaces if they have not been adequately sanded.

3. Use a bonding adhesive

Before adding a new coat of concrete, coat the base surfaces with bonding adhesive using a sprayer, roller, or brush. This will act as an adhesive that may be painted on. Alternatively, you might combine it with a slurry instead of water, dividing the cement into two parts and the bonding agent into one portion.

4. Repair holes and cracks

Over time, holes, dents, and fractures appear in plaster walls. Using a paintable caulk to fill in small cracks and holes is your best bet. Repair larger cracks and holes by applying mesh tape and then filling the space with a substance.

5. Remove and test for lead in the paint on the walls

Lead paint was a common paint ingredient in the past and must be removed from plaster walls to avoid health risks. Continued lead exposure provides several major health hazards, which is why this should be avoided at all costs. Before taking any further action, make a second check with a home lead test kit.

It’s best to scrape away any obvious paint chippings, peelings, or missing plaster to ensure that you have an even surface that is free of bumps. This can be done by using a putty knife. You will find that a putty knife is a very helpful tool to have on hand for this process.

What paint to use on plaster walls?

It doesn’t matter what color you choose for your plaster walls if it looks good to you! Either color or finish can be applied to plaster walls once they are repaired and primed.

You should, however, avoid using all-in-one paint and primers. These paints don’t contain priming, despite what the label claims. Instead, a thicker, more durable covering is created by blending the two materials in concert.


Dirty walls, leaks, mold, and low temps can all contribute to painting that won’t cling. It’s necessary to use a primer that acts as an adhesive between the wall and the paint particles before certain types of paint can be applied. Clean, even-applied bonding primer is the greatest way to ensure that paint adheres to a surface.