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Anyone who’s decorated a room will remember that little patch of poorly sanded window frame – or just the brush-hair embedded in the paint for all eternity. No one else would ever notice such a minute flaw but, to the decorator themselves, it can feel like a massive splotch!
We all want everything to be as near to perfect as possible, which makes it very disappointing when a major feature such as a wall or ceiling has an imperfect appearance.
The fact is, achieving a flat, blemish-free surface on a plasterboard wall or ceiling is impossible – and the best you can expect is the appearance of flatness. The chances are, if you’re unhappy with the appearance of properly installed plasterboard, the cause could be unfavourable lighting or decoration.
FIRST, GET THE BASICS RIGHT
Of course, there are some requirements of the plasterboard installation process itself to minimise flaws and unevenness. Accurate installation of wall and ceiling framing and roof trusses is essential. Using ceiling battens is also important to achieve a level finish. This means that if you’re renovating an older home where movement has taken place over time, you cannot expect the precision of a newly-built home.
The way you joint and finish wall and ceiling boards is also critical to their appearance – years down the track as well as immediately after painting. To help with all aspects of working with plasterboard– preparation, installation, finishing and repairing – we’ve developed a series of how-to videos and infosheets.
Finally, if you’re planning to use a glossy or sheen paint, you’d be advised to consult a professional plasterer or specialist trade store. These paints can highlight minor flaws, so it’s best to use non-standard finishing compounds and methods (Level 5 finish).
THREE LIGHTING CHALLENGES
The orientation of your home and factors outside it can impact on the appearance of internal walls and ceilings. The angle of the sun at different times of the day and year, reflected light from other buildings, glare from reflective surfaces such as pools and water features – all should be taken into consideration when decorating your room and may dictate the need for sunshades, blinds or curtains.
A second kind of light which can seem to magnify surface irregularities and spoil the look of even the highest quality finish is glancing light. Because it comes from an angle, it casts minute shadows which emphasise minor flaws that would otherwise appear flat. Glancing light can be caused by inappropriate light fittings or angles, such as ill-adjusted spots, as well as single light sources fixed to a ceiling or wall. Glancing light can also reflect upwards from external pool water or reflective surfaces outside to deliver a similar effect.
A third challenge is the type and style of light fittings. Bare bulbs cast harsh light, highlighting surface variations. On the other hand, recessed lighting and opaque shades avoid shadows and glancing light – illuminating the room rather than the ceiling. You should think carefully about your choice and placement of lighting fixtures.
NOW THERE’S HELP
In order to illustrate the different lighting challenges above, and discuss other causes of dissatisfaction with the appearance of plasterboard walls and ceilings and ways to mitigate them, we’ve published a guidebook. Now updated and reissued, the Lighting & Decorating Plasterboard Design & Application Guide offers valuable advice on what you need to consider before you start a renovation project that involves the installation of new plasterboard walls or ceilings.