How to Paint a Newly Built House

How to Paint a Newly Built House

Newly built homes should be allowed to settle and dry out during the first few months after completion before final paintwork is done.  The reason for this is that building materials such as concrete, plaster, bricks and timber tend to absorb moisture during construction.

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This is not immediately obvious and certainly does no harm, but it is best to allow ventilation to slowly evaporate excess moisture to prevent paintwork from peeling and chipping prematurely.

Drying Out

As a home is lived in, heat generated from the inhabitants, as well as from heating and cooking appliances, will cause timber and other building materials to gradually shrink which may result in small cracks appearing on walls and ceiling finishes, as well as at joints in the corners of interior joinery such as skirting boards.

If these cracks and gaps from drying out are allowed to appear before the final painting is done, it will save you a lot of time and money.

To speed up the process of drying out and minimize cracking, try to avoid extreme fluctuations in temperatures and keep the house well ventilated to allow moisture to evaporate.  If you move in during winter, use central heating sparingly in the beginning for gradual drying and leave windows open for as long as possible during the day.


Efflorescence is a white deposit caused by natural salts that build up and appears on walls as a consequence of drying out.  This is a normal occurrence and will normally disappear over time.

It can be brushed off the walls. However, if it persists for more than a few months, it may indicate a leak in the interior of the walls and you should have it fixed to as soon as possible.  If this type of problem is detected before final painting of the walls, it can prevent repainting after the problem has been rectified.


Condensation often occurs in new homes while building materials are drying out. It should be taken care of immediately to prevent mould from setting in, which can cause damage to paintwork as well as floor coverings and ceilings.

To reduce condensation, use extractor fans and good ventilation.  Slotted vents in window frames should be left open and heating should remain at a constant temperature.  Avoid drying washing in front of a radiator and keep bathroom doors closed when showering to keep steam from escaping.

Painting and Decorating

Builders often paint the walls of a newly constructed house with an initial coat of emulsion paint.  Once the interior of the house has dried out, (which could take up to a year) further coats of emulsion paint can be applied or you can use oil based paints or wallpaper for final decoration.

Before applying additional coats of paint, any minor plaster cracks, gaps or other problems that may have arisen during the drying out period can be attended to by using decorators filler or other products specifically designed for wall and ceiling problems.

When painting the ceiling, apply two or more coats of emulsion to the plastic compound finish without sanding.  Avoid wetting the plastic compound before applying the emulsion to avoid spoiling the texture.

New woodwork will absorb a lot of stain or paint at the first application and may need repainting after a period of time for best results.  Woodwork should be completely dried out and properly prepared before painting.


External paint finishes will dull over time and should be redone on a regular basis.  Woodwork should be protected and preserved by repainting regularly, or re-staining the wood.  Harsh weather and bright sunlight will take its toll on exterior woodwork which may need to be repainted at least every two years if you live near the coast.  After the first application, re-painting or re-staining can be done every four to five years.