How to Paint Coving & Cornice

When painting coving & cornice it’s important to remember that the approach you need depends on the material that it is made out of. For example some coving & cornice materials such as polystyrene are very absorbent, so will need several coats of paint to get a nice finish. Other materials such as paper coated plaster coving will typically require less paint but will usually need to be pre-primed first.

The modern polymer based products will be supplied with a quality primer undercoat already applied, thereby cutting down on the time and expense of having to do this yourself. Usually they will then only require a single topcoat.

Traditionally coving is painted white, but you can experiment with different colours if you’re going for a more contemporary look. Usually your coving or cornice will be painted a different colour to the wall to create contrast.

It is recommended that you leave at least 24 hours after installation before painting your coving, as this allows time for the adhesive to set properly.

Painting Coving & Cornice

Firstly check to see if your coving or cornice is pre-primed – as mentioned above, polymer based materials will usually be ready to paint straight away. However if you’re using plaster coving you will need to apply a special plaster primer first. It is also recommended to use a primer if you are painting over an existing layer of paint, especially one that is a darker colour. This will make it easier to get a nice even finish.

Step by Step Guide to Painting Your Coving & Cornice

– Cover the floor with a dustsheet and move or cover any furniture, so that it does not get splashed by paint.

– Inspect all of your coving or cornice for cracks and other signs of damage. It is better to fix any problems before you start painting. Use normal decorators caulk to fill any gaps and wait for this to dry before you paint over it.

– Use a damp cloth to lightly wipe down and remove any dust or dirt. This is so that the primer adheres correctly and ensures a smoother finish for the paint.

– Stick painter’s (masking) tape onto the wall just below coving and on the ceiling just above for the entire length of the coving to avoid overspill. Painter’s tape is widely available and stocked by most DIY stores. Run your thumb along the tape to make sure it’s stuck properly and then you’re ready to apply primer if required.

– Use a medium sized nylon brush to apply primer, tackling a small section at a time. Try not to wet the brush too much, especially if using paper coated coving. This can spoil the coving or drip down the wall.

– For intricate indented cornice patterns use a smaller brush, making sure you dab the brush into any crevices. If the surface of your coving is smooth, then use a polyester brush to get the best finish.

– When you’ve finished applying the primer you’ll need to leave this to dry for 2 hours before painting.

– Apply the paint in the same way, using small brush strokes and using a smaller brush when painting the edges. This will require a steady hand, although having painter’s tape reduces the risk of you getting paint onto the wall or ceiling.

– Again allow this layer of paint to dry for at least 2 hours before applying another coat if required.

– Inspect the paintwork. If another coat is required, you should wait another two hours before applying. If there are small areas that require addressing, you can use an appropriate size of brush to perfect these areas.

– Add repeat coats of paint in the same fashion until you are happy with the results. Depending on the material, coving should typically need about 1-3 coats of paint for a nice smooth finish.