We have a very old cottage (built in 1650) that we have just completely refurbished from top to bottom. Because it is stone & brick and had a major problem with damp when we first purchased it, we stripped all of the walls back to brick and redone with a lime cement plaster to let the walls breathe.

As such, we didn't seal the plaster (as this would have negated the breathability) and painted with a microporous paint (Laura Ashley Pale Duck Egg). This has been fine absolutely everywhere, except one corner of the kitchen that backs onto an outside store. In this corner, the paint very quickly started to peel and flake away only a couple of months after applying it.

There is a lot more wall that backs onto the outside store, but it's only this small corner that has a problem; however we also appear to be developing a similar issue in a small spot on the opposite wall, which backs straight onto the outside at the front of the house.

Obviously I want to repaint it, but without it happening again and again. Does anyone have any ideas?

For reference, here's an ASCII drawing of the corner:

        ___          |  ____________
        | |          | |
 Side   | | Outside  | |
 Of     | | Store    | |
 House  | |          / |
        | |________/  /
        | __________/
        | |
        | | \
        | |  The problem area
        | |  (Inside kitchen)
        | |___
        |  ___|
        | |
        | |

Any help or suggestions would be very much appreciated.

  • Is the paint bubbling up or simply flaking off? Is the plaster coming with it at all? Is the plaster behind it wet or discolored? Is there a stove/oven/vent or any other heat source near these 2 locations? Is there a sink/window or any other moisture source near these 2 locations?
    – Jason
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:20
  • The paint is flaking rather than bubbling. The plaster is not coming away - just the paint. There isn't a direct heat source near either part of the kitchen. There is a large window about a foot up and a foot to the left of the much smaller flaking that has started recently. There is no other moisture source near the original point other than backing onto the outside store.
    – indextwo
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:31
  • 1
    It sounds like the wall is either wicking the water through - or second comment - , so maybe your roof eaves are allowing the water to run back underneath them and down the wall. It could be coming from the roof if you have a small roof leak right there, maybe something like leaves or straw holding the water there allowing it to slowly leak down.
    – Jason
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:46
  • The other decent possibility is the plaster wasn't prepped in those two areas so those areas didn't get the right adhesion; if the wall isn't wet and doesn't show any signs of moisture/water damage I would sand the area, and a margin too so sand some paint away, clean with dry cloth, and paint again. Make sure you still have good paint and it is mixed properly.
    – Jason
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:48
  • Thanks for the tips. I was wondering if there's wicking (I learned a new word!) either from the outside store and through the wall, or from the inside out (since obviously the air can become quite moist in an active kitchen, and my wife cooks a lot), but I wasn't sure if anything could be done to the store. Worth noting that right in the very corner the plaster is dark, and very occasionally the wall feels wet. Other (flaky) areas feel bone dry.
    – indextwo
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the dampness is still a problem in that particular area because it is a corner adjoining the external wall and the store area. Is this part of the house in shadow for a lot of the day?

  1. Check the external ground area surrounding the outside store. If the ground is clay or compacted it might not be helping in that it is storing water. Perhaps better drainage there.

  2. Some form of heating in the store area to keep it at a similar temperature to the kitchen e.g. condensation happens in that part of the kitchen because of the cold store area on the other side of that particular wall.

  3. Perhaps a better seal on the door and windows in the store to keep it warmer in general.

  4. Put a faux wall in the back of the store to buffer the cold air away from the wall that is adjoining the kitchen.

  5. A robust kitchen extractor to remove as much steam as possible from cooking.

  • Thanks for the tips, @brett-grubb - I think you're right; the condensation is appearing from the inside, but I hadn't considered the temperature difference to be what's causing it. The oven is built into an old chimney space, and so is utilising natural (unpowered) ventilation for extraction, so maybe a localised, powered extractor might help matters. Thanks!
    – indextwo
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 18:10

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