Restoring a cornice

If your house is an older property, you may have a lumpy, bumpy cornice where the decorative plasterwork is scarcely recognisable because old paint has completely filled crevices and indentations. However, by following a few simple steps you can restore the cornice to pristine condition. It’s a time-consuming task but well worth the effort and requires only a few basic tools.

Since old paints like distemper and whitewash are water-soluble they can be removed by soaking them with water and then digging out the paint. Where the paint is not water-soluble – and you can test a small area of your cornice by rubbing a damp sponge over it – you will have to use a paint stripper instead. With the cleaning-up operation complete, you can redecorate using modern paints which will enhance the mouldings instead of clogging them up.

Small areas of broken moulding can be repaired with quick-setting plaster such as plaster of Paris. Sometimes it is possible to find old mouldings in demolition or junk yards which will fill the gap in your ceiling. There are also specialist companies which will make up mouldings to order to match your existing ceiling decorations.

To protect existing wallpaper while you are carrying out renovation, tape a sheet of polythene immediately under the area of cornice you are working on. The sheet can be moved to protect other areas as you go and how to cure it

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