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I purchased a house in the UK which needs considerably more work doing on it that originally anticipated. Because of covid backlogs it's really hard to get decorators/builders/etc booked in so I figured it's a good opportunity for learning how to do things myself... I figured I'd start with the smallest room first (office) as a way to get the basics. The first hurdle I've come across is not knowing what order to approach things in. The list of things to do is:

  • flatten textured ceiling (it's like an artex type situation atm, could maybe just plaster over it?)
  • install new light
  • repaint walls
  • repaint/replace skirting boards (probably doorframe too?)
  • new carpet

getting new skirting boards/carpet put in will probably involve getting professionals in I'd imagine?

So I guess my questions are, is some of this achievable as a complete decorating newcomer? What order should I do things (or get people booked in to do)? Also, the current walls are painted, but it looks to me like it's painted on top of some sort of flat wall paper? Can I strip this off and just paint the walls?

Sorry if this is a vague question, I'm just really new to all this. Any input/advice/answers would be greatly appreciated!

Happy to include pictures if that would be helpful.

Thank you and happy new year!

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  1. Check light fixture to make certain no rewiring will be necessary before tackling ceilings. You don't need to fit it now, just make sure the wiring is ready & you're not going to end up chopping into back it or lifting the floorboards above once you've finished the ceiling.

Let's pause at 2 for a while…

  1. Artex - is quite likely to be made of asbestos.
    First job is to get it tested.
    Most artexing in the UK was done in the 70s. Artex contained asbestos until 1984.
    Do not skip this. It should have been tested as part of your survey, so make sure it's been given the all-clear. If not, I'd be asking the surveyer why not.
    If it's asbestos, you have to get specialists to remove it. You are not permitted to cover it.
    If it's not asbestos, it is permitted to cover it. To cover it first you're going to have to sand it back as much as you can, or the various peaks are going to scupper your efforts to skim it.
    Most people opt to remove it, whatever it's made of. There are products such as X-Tex designed to peel it off like really thick wallpaper. Alternatively, wall or ceiling, you chop it back to the brick or lath & start over, browning & skim. Plasterboard you can't really chop it off.

For your sanity & the mess involved - you're probably going to want to do all the plasterwork before anything else… preferably before moving in. If that's not possible, then use heavy plastic dust-sheeting to curtain off each room as you do it. Air-lock it as much as possible.

If you're doing a room at a time, then you would remove old woodwork at this stage, in case any old plaster proves to be unsound, you can patch or replace as you go, not have to come back to it.

The rest is plain sailing relatively;)

  1. Install light fixture, replace woodwork & finish. Overpainting the woodwork onto the caulking & an inch onto the wall gives you a nice line to work when you emulsion.
    It is far easier to get emulsion to a sharp line over gloss than gloss over emulsion. It wipes off easier if you mess up the edge too.
    You'd also be trying to caulk in your woodwork after the wall is painted, so you'd have to do your edging over again.

  2. Paint walls.

  3. Install floorings.

[My father in law, a professional plasterer, used to joke that though he made plenty of money artexing in the 70s, he made far more replacing it all again in the 80s & 90s.]

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    Thank you so much for the advice, that's really useful! I'll take a look at asbestos testing services in my area then. The house survey said it should be ok, but I'll get it tested to make sure :)
    – RHSmith159
    Jan 1, 2022 at 17:23
  • Oh - I messed the old wallpaper part - it's going to depend on what the plasterwork is like underneath. People often use liner paper to literally be able to paint over the cracks. You'll have to test a part of it to see.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 2, 2022 at 11:07
  • One additional note: People used to artex because the plaster underneath was shot, & it was easier to artex than re-do it properly. Getting it off again, any pro plasterer would far prefer to hack off all the existing plaster & start over. Better end result & takes about half the time… but by heck it's dusty ;))
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 2, 2022 at 16:47
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    I really appreciate all the info mate thank you! it's all been a bit daunting trying to figure out what/when/how to do everything. This has really broken it up into a manageable set of things to do and I'll be able to apply this to pretty much the entire house :)
    – RHSmith159
    Jan 2, 2022 at 18:30

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