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My wife and I recently became homeowners for the first time, and did our first home renovation. We opted to have smooth painted walls and hired a company to do this for us. Over our first months of living there, we noticed that the walls are really tender, much more than we expected. As an example, the other day somebody got up from a chair next to the wall, and the chair scraped against it causing a layer of paint (and plaster from the looks of it) to be scraped off.

In the past we have lived with abrasive walls (standard in rental apartments in our area), or wallpaper, and this kind of tenderness from a wall is not something I've ever experienced. I would really appreciate your input on this to evaluate the situation and how to move forward. How normal is it for the plaster layer under the paint to be so soft? Are painted walls always soft? What is the industry standard? What are realistic ways for me to resolve this situation with the contractor?

Edit: I would like to clarify that the actual wall is made out of brick. The situation seems quite un-intuitive to me because I come originally from eastern Europe, and most of our apartment walls there are made out of concrete, and covered by wallpaper. I have distinct childhood memories them being really hard (drawing with pencils, bouncing tennis balls against them), and not easily dented. My first intuition would have been that this would be similar with brick wall despite having paint on it instead of wallpaper. Is it normal practice to "even out" a brick wall with gypsum prior to painting? Are there any other materials, other than gypsum that could be used to even out such surfaces? I'm located in central Europe geographically.

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That looks like a normal scuff on a wall covered with plaster or drywall compound, textured and painted.

Plaster and compound be scratched with a fingernail. If the paint is very new it may be dry but not cured, or hardened. This is why the damage came easier.

There is nothing your contractor did wrong. It is the result of impact with a chair.

Your apartment walls may have been concrete for fire resistance. This is why the normal drywall walls seem "soft" to you.

If you are lost as to how to repair the mark, ask that in another question.

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    The wall itself is made out of brick. I imagine they plastered it on top to even it out, but this is not a drywall. What is the period to "cure" the paint? The wall has been painted about three months ago.
    – Vyacheslav
    Apr 15 at 12:49
  • Sorry for the confusion
    – Vyacheslav
    Apr 15 at 12:53
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I agree with RMDman. Modern walls are simply not to be touched. Even if they contain brick, the finishing materials are softer and lighter. This is for ease of installation and flexibility--they won't crack as readily with seasonal movement or vibration.

Get in the mindset that they're simply off limits to hands and furniture. Teach kids not to plant a palm when they're taking off their shoes. Keep furniture away a few inches. Consider installing wainscot or chair rail moldings where appropriate. Plan on doing repairs and repainting every few years.

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    Thanks for your reply! To clear a little confusion the walls are made of brick. The situation seems quite un-intuitive to me because I come originally from eastern Europe, and most of our apartment walls there are made out of concrete, and covered by wallpaper. I have distinct childhood memories them being really hard (drawing with pencils, bouncing tennis balls against them), and not easily dented. My intuition would have been that this would be similar with brick wall despite having paint on it instead of wallpaper.
    – Vyacheslav
    Apr 15 at 13:06
  • Is it normal practice to "even out" a brick wall with gypsum prior to painting? Are there any other materials, other than gypsum that could be used to even out such surfaces?
    – Vyacheslav
    Apr 15 at 13:06
  • Doesn't matter what's inside the wall. It matters what was used to finish it. We don't know that, but it's unlikely it was rock-hard traditional plaster. Ask your contractor.
    – isherwood
    Apr 15 at 13:22
  • Looks like you have plaster over brick. Not uncommon. Modern plaster is softer than the stuff that was used for lath-and-plaster finishing. Apply a patching plaster like Spackle (tm) to level it out, and apply a dab of paint to match color if needed.
    – keshlam
    Apr 15 at 13:24
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Welcome to the world of "soft" walls. They have many advantages such as insulation for temperature and sound, they can carry plumbing and electrical conduits, and you can drive in a nail to hang pictures. They also require the occasional patching and painting. And special anchors for hanging heavier items.

While I'm not familiar with brick walls finished with plaster I can propose an additional hypotheses for why your wall and paint were so delicate:

Water or moisture either in the gypsum trapped by the paint, or in the brick and moving into the gypsum, and then trapped by the paint

Bricks and mortar are not 100% waterproof and you can get water (moving slowly) from outside to inside of your home. Because the water can take a long time to exit the brick due to evaporation, it can easily be "temporarily trapped" by paint or gypsum and keep those materials from fully drying.

I recommend doing a bit more research into preparation and process for gypsum on brick. Some websites say you can paint within 72 hours.

I would speaking to another contractor about your experience and then your original contractor about any preparation that was done to the brick before the application of the gypsum. Worst case I can imagine is that they power washed with water and then applied the gypsum. This would probably have lead to damage to the rest of your home so I doubt this possibility.

If what you find doesn't answer your questions, can investigate the "other side" of the brick wall. Is it exposed to air, water, soil? If you get a moisture meter do you detect moisture? Rent a high end meter such as Tramex Moisture Encounter - ME5 or contact a flood response company to have them evaluate the wall. Another non-destructive test is an infrared camera survey to find "cold" spots in your wall indicative of moisture or thermal bridging.

And again, while your paint and gypsum may have been perfectly applied and you have waited months for it to fully cure, it may simply need more time.

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  • @Vyacheslav if you found any of these answers helpful please upvote and select the "best" answer. If none of them are helpful and didn't answer your question, please comment on them to get clarification. Apr 23 at 23:40

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