What Causes Plaster Walls To Bubble?

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    Plaster is a common material used for completing the look of walls and ceilings, giving a room a refined and sophisticated appearance. Unfortunately, plaster bubbles are unsightly and can cause further damage if not fixed promptly after they appear.

    In this blog, we will discuss the common factors that lead to plaster bubbling and the solutions to this problem.

    Why Are There Plaster Wall Bubbles?

    Plaster walls are built by layering plaster over a support structure like lath or drywall.

    Typically, gypsum, sand, and water are the components of the plaster mixture. When these ingredients are mixed, they form a paste that can be easily applied to flat surfaces.

    Plaster walls can bubble when moisture rises through the wall. This is because the plaster has cracked open, and the powdery mixture has begun to fall down the floor. Lack of a damp-proof course, poor site drainage, or inadequate sub-floor ventilation all contribute to the upward movement of moisture through the wall.

    Advantages Of Plaster Walls


    Plaster walls have a well-deserved reputation for being extremely long-lasting and capable of withstanding a great deal of wear and tear. In addition, they are more resistant to damage than other materials used for wall construction, such as drywall.


    Plaster walls are known for their exceptional ability to dampen sound. As a result, they can effectively reduce noise transmission between rooms, resulting in a more peaceful and quiet environment.

    Fire Resistance 

    Plaster has a natural resistance to fire, making it an excellent material for use inside buildings. In addition, it can impede the fire's progression and buy vital time for people to escape.

    Smooth Finish

    Plaster walls have a smooth and seamless finish, and they lend an air of elegance to any room they're in. In addition, the absence of any visible joints or seams enhances the aesthetic appeal of these pieces.

    Disadvantages Of Plaster Walls

    Installation Time

    Compared to other wall materials, installing plaster walls takes significantly more time. This is because the application of multiple layers and the drying process can take a significant amount of time.

    Moisture Vulnerability

    Plaster walls are commonly resistant to moisture; however, if they are subjected to excessive humidity for an extended period of time or have water infiltration, the plaster may become damaged and bubble or crack.


    Installation of a plaster wall can be more expensive than installing drywall or one of the other available options. Plastering is expensive because it requires a lot of labour and specific materials.

    Plaster Wall Bubbles: Common Causes

    Plaster walls that bubble up can be a headache for homeowners and a safety risk for contractors. These bubbles are unsightly and a sign of underlying issues that must be fixed before the walls can be considered complete.

    If you want to understand why your plaster walls keep bubbling, you need to know the most common causes.

    Various issues can cause wall bubbling; this guide will examine some of the most common ones, including water intrusion, improper installation, lack of primer, and the elements. You can ensure your walls' durability and aesthetic appeal by investigating these causes to learn how to prevent and fix plaster wall bubbles.


    Moisture is a leading cause of plaster bubbles. Plaster can bubble and blister if water gets underneath its surface. Roof or plumbing leaks, high humidity, or a lack of proper ventilation could all contribute to the damp atmosphere.

    The problem cannot be fixed until the source of the moisture is eliminated. After the problem has been resolved at its source, the affected area must be given ample time to dry out before the damaged plaster can be repaired.

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    Primers That Are Insufficient Or Incompatible

    Primers are essential for preparing plaster walls to be painted. Problems with adhesion, such as bubbling, can result from using the incorrect primer or not using enough.

    Previous Water Damage

    Plaster walls damaged by water (through leaks or flooding, for example) may continue to bubble over time due to residual moisture.

    Insufficient Surface Preparation

    Plaster bubbling can be caused by improper surface preparation before application. Dust, debris, or residue on the surface can prevent the adhesive from bonding properly and lead to bubbles.

    Incompatible materials

    Using materials that are not compatible with one another during the process of plastering, such as plaster mixes that are not compatible with one another or additives that are not appropriate, can result in chemical reactions causing bubbling.

    Poor Installation Techniques

    Improper installation methods can cause wall bubbling. Plaster bubbles form when the material is improperly mixed, applied unevenly, or allowed insufficient drying time.

    Environmental Factors

    Plaster walls are susceptible to damage when there is a shift in temperature or humidity. Plaster has a tendency to separate from the surface and form bubbles if it is subjected to extreme temperatures, as this causes it to either expand or contract, causing it to either expand or contract.

    Substrate Issues

    Plaster's tendency to bubble can be influenced by the substrate or base material it is applied to. For example, plaster's performance and bubble formation are negatively impacted if the substrate is unstable, has poor adhesive capabilities, or is polluted.

    Inadequate Ventilation

    Plaster drying time can be slowed if the room or building lacks ventilation. When moisture is trapped within the plaster and there is insufficient air circulation, bubbles may form.

    Vibration Or Impact

    The plaster can detach from the surface of the building and form bubbles if the building is subjected to intense impact or continuous vibrations.

    How Can A Bubbled Plaster Wall Be Repaired?

    Repairing the plaster is the next logical step after addressing the underlying causes of rising wall dampness. If the cause of the bubbling plaster is not identified and addressed, any attempts to repair the damage will be futile.

    Step 1: Remove Damaged Wall Material

    In this step, you remove all the bubbly stuff, like the peeling paint, the crumbling paint, and the bubbling plaster.

    • Using the putty knife, scrape away the damaged area of the surface.
    • Remove the peeling paint and the bubbling plaster with a putty knife. Clean the wall's surface of any mushy or squishy debris. Pressure and careful digging are used for this. Continue the process to the perimeter of the damaged area.
    • The digging must be carried out until a layer of hard, undamaged plaster is found.
    • Inspect the area around the damage to see if the paint easily peels.
    • When removing paint, always begin at the centre of the damaged area and work outward.

    Step 2: Clean The Surface

    After completing step one, you should use a shop vacuum and a stiff nylon brush to clean the wall surface.

    Sponge-clean the walls and floors in the area. The presence of lime deposits is mitigated by this method. After washing, the area needs to dry before you move on.

    Step 3: Water-Damaged Surface Seal

    • Apply a coat of primer after cleaning and sanding the wall. The priming procedure serves to seal off any lingering contamination on the wall. This is recommended to ensure a strong bond when using a patching compound. Priming a surface prior to painting stops stains from soaking through the paint. Either an oil-based primer or a fast-drying primer-sealer can be used.
    • Shake it vigorously to ensure that the primer's solution is thoroughly mixed. Cover the damaged areas and extend the paint to the adjacent walls. Wait until the primer has dried. Primers dry in an hour faster than oil paint, which dries in 24 hours.

    Step 4: Plastering Repair

    • Joint compound or patching plaster can fill the gaps and restore the wall's even surface. Which option is best depends on the nature of the damage. A jointing compound is useful for patching up minor cracks. Plaster is the most effective material for patching large areas of damage.
    • Plaster or joint compound may need to be applied multiple times, depending on how deep into the wall they need to patch.

    Jointing Compound First Coat Application

    • Use a jointing knife to spread the first layer of the compound mixture. To begin, spread the compound on the wall in a layer about a quarter of an inch thick. Now, skim off the defect on the other side from where you repaired it.
    • If there is more serious damage, float the blade across it to fill it, and skim the surrounding walls to give them a thin coat. Avoid building up excessively thick layers near the edges of the repair, as this will require more sanding.
    • If you need to cover a large area with a compound, use a long, thin board. If there are still bumps, use coarse to medium-grit sandpaper to smooth them out. Wait until the compound is completely dry before beginning to sand.
    • Dust should be brushed away, and the area should be wiped down with a damp sponge once done sanding. Dust from scraping and sanding must be cleaned off the surface before applying a new coat.

    Jointing Compound Second Coat Application

    • When applying the second coat, focus on the most severely damaged areas. Use parallel strokes to skim off the top layer of the mixture. Buttering and skimming off are done at right angles to the first coat's application.
    • When using a jointing knife, you shouldn't worry about creating ridges. Keep the compound as thin as possible to reduce the final sanding required.
    • Wait for the second coat to dry. After that, scraping and sanding can begin. Clean the surface by wiping it down. More jackets can be added if necessary.

    Step 5: Sanding And Retouching

    • Let the final coat dry completely before proceeding.
    • Use 120-grit sandpaper to buff the surface and soften the edges and walls.
    • Remove the dust from the sanding with a damp rag once you're done.
    • Paint with primer first. It is best to compare a solvent-based primer-sealer to latex paint because the former prevents the new paint coat from becoming contaminated with any lingering water.
    • Applying latex primer to a water-damaged wall is not a good idea. Before touching up the walls or painting, ensure the primer is completely dry.

    Plaster Wall Bubble Prevention Measures

    Plaster wall bubble prevention is essential for wall durability and aesthetics. In addition, preventive measures can reduce the likelihood of bubble formation and the associated hassle and expense of fixing them.

    These preventative measures, which include controlling moisture infiltration, using proper installation techniques, and applying appropriate primers and paints, will help you protect your walls and ensure their long-term durability. Preventative measures ensure that your plaster walls remain beautiful and bubble-free for years.

    Proper Installation Techniques

    Minimising the potential for bubbling in plaster walls requires proper installation methods. Take into account the following steps:

    1. Employ Skilled Professionals: It is important to employ trained experts when installing plaster walls. They know what they're doing, so you can rest assured that the surface will be properly prepared, the plaster will be mixed and applied correctly, and bubbles will be kept to a minimum.
    2. Proper surface Preparation: Before applying plaster, make sure the surface is completely clean. Remove any dirt, dust, or other particles that could prevent the plaster from sticking. Before applying plaster, make sure the substrate is in good condition.
    3. Proper Plaster Mixing: Mix the plaster as the manufacturer directs, carefully maintaining the specified water ratio to the plaster. Plaster that has been properly mixed promotes strong adhesion and minimises the formation of bubbles during drying.
    4. Allow Enough Time for Drying: Bubbles can be avoided by allowing sufficient drying time. If you want moisture to evaporate properly, you shouldn't rush the drying process and ensure the room is well-ventilated.

    Moisture Control

    Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to keep moisture out of your walls and reduce the likelihood of bubbling plaster:

    1. Put up moisture barriers: Before plastering the outside walls, install vapour barriers or waterproof membranes. These barriers aid in preventing water from seeping through the exterior walls.
    2. Maintain Proper Ventilation: Condensation can be avoided and humidity levels lowered by ensuring the room or building has adequate airflow and ventilation. Maintain proper ventilation by installing exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
    3. Regular Maintenance: Walls should be checked frequently for signs of moisture damage caused by leaks or plumbing problems. Fixing these issues quickly will decrease the likelihood of water seepage and plaster bubbling.

    Primers And Paints That Are Appropriate

    Plaster walls can be protected from bubbling with the help of the right primers and paints. Think about these rules of thumb:

    1. Select Compatible Products: Primers and paints should be tested to ensure they adhere properly to plaster. To guarantee compatibility and proper adhesion, check the manufacturer's suggestions.
    2. Follow the manufacturer's instructions: Primers and paints must be applied according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Use the specified number of coats, and give There was sufficient time for each to dry before applying the next.
    3. Test for Compatibility: Applying primer or paint to an entire wall without first testing a small patch for reactions and bubbling is a recipe for disaster. This ensures the products will work with the plaster coating.

    Plaster walls are less likely to develop bubbles if these precautions are taken. Plaster walls will last longer and look better if you use quality primers and finishes, install them properly, and keep the humidity level constant.


    Plastering the ceiling with intricate designs is a time-honoured practice that has added prestige and visual appeal to palaces, mansions, and other ancient structures for decades.

    Wet plaster that has been reinforced with hessian or fibreglass is used to create this ornamental finish, which is then applied to interior walls and ceilings.

    Decorative plastering has many potential advantages, including better aesthetic appeal, personalisation and customisation, long-lasting durability, an increase in property value, the concealment of defects, and improvements in acoustics and thermal comfort.

    Arches, columns, chair rails, and cornices are just some of the plasterwork architectural details available. Doric, Tuscan, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composition columns are the most frequent classically based columns in revival and colonial architecture and are employed to change the character of a room.

    Plaster bands called "chair rails" are usually set up around a room's perimeter to prevent damage to the wall from the chairs' legs.

    Horizontal cornices can be found on entrances, windows, furniture, and built-in fixtures and can have either a basic or elaborate pattern.

    In conclusion, decorative ceiling plastering provides several advantages, such as enhanced visual appeal, personalisation and customisation, long-lasting durability, increased property value, concealment of defects, and improvement of acoustics and thermal comfort.

    Plastering the ceiling with an ornamental design is a common and attractive option that can give any space a refined look and feel.

    Traditional plaster, moulds, reinforcement materials, decorative components, and equipment are just some of the specialised materials used in this process to achieve the necessary aesthetic effects.

    Gypsum plaster, for example, may be shaped into intricate designs because of its pliability. Rosettes, mouldings, and cornices can all be cast using moulds to add decorative detail, while reinforcement materials provide stability. Beads, medallions, and finials are all examples of decorative embellishments that can be used to elevate an already impressive design.

    After the plastering is done, a decorative ceiling can be painted with acrylic or latex paint, glazed, and sealed to prevent water damage. Ornamental ceiling plastering requires a variety of specialised tools and equipment, such as trowels, plaster mixers, spatulas, brushes, sandpaper, and measurement tools.

    Ornamental plaster restoration is a highly specialised, technically challenging, and ultimately gratifying process that allows buildings to either keep their original ornamental plaster mouldings or recreate them using the same methods as the original construction.

    Decorative plaster can range in price from $7.50 to $8.50 per linear metre for a simple colonial cove cornice to $15.00 or more per square metre for ornate cornices, depending on factors such as location and the state of the market.

    To sum up, ornamental ceiling plastering is a well-liked and gratifying technique that can boost a room's visual appeal. When renovating older homes, it is important to factor in the cost of the process as well as the knowledge of an experienced ornamental plasterer.

    Plastering an elaborate design onto a ceiling might cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Even if two houses are the same square footage, they could have vastly different ornamental plastering requirements and costs depending on the complexity of the design and the contractor hired.

    Ornamental ceiling plastering is a fun and easy DIY project that may save money, let your creativity shine, and expand your horizons.

    But it takes time, effort, and the knowledge of an expert to do, and the results might not be worth it. Experience and training have given professional plasterers the ability to produce work of lasting excellence.

    When you hire a plastering service, you get the benefit of their experience, skill, speed, and quality of work. Because of the wide range of resources at their disposal, they can guarantee a flawless final product. On the other hand, if you have the time and inclination, doing the work yourself can save you money in the long run.

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    There may also be less opportunities for customisation when working with experts, as their input and expertise may be incorporated into the final product.

    Content Summary

    • Ornamental ceiling plastering is a prestigious and eye-catching form of architectural and interior decoration.
    • It has been used for centuries to adorn palaces, mansions, and historic buildings worldwide.
    • Ornamental plaster is a decorative finish applied to interior walls and ceilings.
    • It is made of wet plaster strengthened with hessian or fibreglass.
    • Cornice mouldings, decorative work, and ceiling roses and arches are made from ornamental plaster.
    • Installing decorative ceiling plastering improves the aesthetic appeal of a room.
    • It allows for personalisation and customisation of the design.
    • Ornamental plastering is long-lasting and durable when done correctly.
    • It can increase the market value of a property.
    • Ornamental plastering is an excellent way to conceal ceiling flaws and imperfections.
    • It offers acoustic and thermal advantages, enhancing the room's comfort.
    • There are various styles of plasterwork, from traditional elegance to contemporary minimalism.
    • Arches are commonly used to break up long hallways or cover structural supports.
    • Columns can completely alter the character of a room, ranging from simplistic to complex styles.
    • Chair rails protect walls from being gouged by the back of a chair.
    • Cornices are horizontal mouldings with decorative patterns found in various places.
    • Fireplace surrounds often feature decorative plasterwork.
    • Domes create the illusion of greater height in interior spaces.
    • Skirting is a simple moulding installed at the floor's base.
    • Medallions are decorative elements mounted on ceilings or walls.
    • Pilasters mimic columns and emphasise the scale of a room.
    • Ornamental ceiling plastering requires specialised materials such as plaster, moulds, and reinforcement materials.
    • Decorative elements like beads, medallions, and finials enhance the overall design.
    • Paint and finishes are applied to the plastered ceiling for a polished look.
    • Specialised tools and equipment are used for ornamental ceiling plastering.
    • Ceiling roses, panels, and other decorative mouldings in older homes may be in better condition.
    • Vision Ornate Plaster offers services related to ornamental plaster, including restoration and reproduction.
    • Steps for restoring ornamental plaster include consultation, disassembling, repairs, and reinstallation.
    • The cost of ornamental plaster varies depending on factors like design complexity and service provider.
    • A less elaborate cornice can cost between £7.50 and £8.50 per linear metre.
    • Ornate cornices can cost £15.00 or more per linear metre.
    • Hiring an expert ornamental plasterer can range from £35/hr to £100/hr.
    • The total cost of plastering a home can range from £10,000 to well over £30,000.
    • DIY ornamental ceiling plastering offers cost savings and creative expression.
    • It can be a learning experience for gaining knowledge and skills.
    • DIY projects require expert-level expertise and can be time-consuming.
    • Professional plastering services offer expertise, craftsmanship, and time efficiency.
    • Professionals guarantee high-quality and durable results.
    • Hiring a professional plasterer can be more expensive than DIY, but the quality may justify the cost.
    • Professionals may have limited creative control compared to DIY projects.
    • Ornamental plastering is a labour-intensive art form with enduring appeal.
    • Plasterwork can create various textures, patterns, and finishes for visually appealing ceilings.
    • The use of decorative plaster can increase the market value of a home.
    • Ornamental plastering can hide imperfections and flaws in ceilings.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Plaster Walls

    Minor bubbling issues can be addressed through DIY methods, such as patching and repainting. However, for significant or recurring bubbles, seeking professional assistance is recommended to identify and address the underlying causes effectively.

    It's important to choose a primer specifically designed for plaster surfaces. In addition, look for products that promote strong adhesion and compatibility with your chosen paint.

    Yes, extreme temperature changes can cause plaster to expand or contract, leading to bubbles. However, maintaining a stable indoor temperature and avoiding direct exposure to heat sources can help minimise this risk.

    Regular inspections are recommended, especially after significant weather events or building structure changes. Promptly addressing any signs of bubbling or moisture damage can prevent further issues.

    It's generally only recommended to paint over bubbling plaster walls after addressing the underlying issues first. The bubbles may reappear, and the paint may not adhere properly. It's best to address the root cause of the bubbles and repair the plaster before applying paint.

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