It’s always amazing what a big difference a simple and cheap coat of paint can make to any space and having just finished painting our cellar, I still can’t help being surprised. The walls used to be yellowish (I assume they were white at some point), dirty and covered in flaky paint.
After spending hours and hours scrubbing the walls and removing any loose bits that we possibly could with a paint scraper and wire brush, then giving the walls and ceiling a sweep to remove any loose bits, dust and a lot of cobwebs, it was time to get out the paintbrush – well, kind of.
Our middle cellar room (it’s not really a room any more, as we’ve removed one of the walls) was by far the area with the biggest damp problem. Luckily the walls weren’t too bad, but there were a few small mould areas behind an old cupboard (I’d guess it had been there since the sixties).
With our cellar starting to resemble a fungi farm – okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but even just a few black spots mould are not the nicest of things to have in your cellar, so we had to take action before we could even start to think about painting the walls.
Most of the mould came straight off with the loose bits of paint, but to be extra sure that the area was clean, we decided to give the walls a quick wipe down with watered down bleach (we used about 1 part bleach to 7 parts water) first.
Yep, I live a totally glamorous existence….
After letting the walls dry, it was finally time to get painting.
We didn’t bother priming the walls, as the brickwork had already been painted and, other than the flaky paint, the walls and mortar were sound. Our bricks are also not very porous, which means that the paint adheres to them quite easily. If you do have a more porous or powdery surface, it’s good practice to prime the walls with a stabilising solution first.
Painting the brick took quite a bit longer than painting our other plastered walls in the house, especially as I only used a paint brush for all painting! As the brickwork is uneven, it takes quite a bit more effort to get the paint into every last dint and crack. Luckily most of our walls still had an existing layer of paint covering them, so the additional work wasn’t too bad.
As our cellar isn’t the lightest of rooms and it’s just going to be used for storage, we decided to paint everything white. It’s bright and most importantly has a nice clean feel to it.
After a lot of deliberating, we opted to use an outdoor paint. We had considered using damp proofing paint, but decided that as the floor seemed to be the main source of the damp our best option would be to paint the walls in a breathable paint, which means that if there is any moisture in the brickwork it won’t be trapped and can still escape into the room.
No solution down there is ever going to be perfect (unless we sort the damp issue from the outside, which we are still planning to do) but either way it is already a huge improvement and a step in the right direction.
Luckily the cellar is already much, much drier than before, so with a bit of luck we shouldn’t have too many problems anyway. We’re also planning on installing a dehumidifier which should take care of any excess moisture that we may still have.
Of course you don’t have to use exterior masonry paint, but it’s durable and easy to wipe clean. Before we started painting the whole cellar, we test painted a few areas to see how well the paint would hold up and cover the brickwork. It would be pretty annoying to paint everything only to find that the paint ends up falling off the walls again, but having left the test area for about 4 weeks, we had no sign of yellowing, damp or flaking, so we were good to go!
We of course have no guarantee that the paint will stay in this condition, but we figured it would still be a better option than sealing the brick with damp proofing paint, even if it means we may have a bit more maintenance down the line.
I already love how much cleaner the cellar feels and am ridiculously excited about adding storage and finally being able to tick this whole project off our to-do list.
Here’s what’s left to do:
- Clear cellar & remove old floor – done.
- Level and compact floor ready to receive new concrete – done.
- Add damp proof membrane – done.
- Lay concrete floor – done.
- Remove loose paint and clean walls & ceiling – done.
- Repair stairs
- Paint walls – done.
- Paint floor
- Add storage
- Move boiler
- Paint door
- Tidy electrics
- Add lighting
- Add wine storage
We obviously still need to finish off the painting, especially around the floor, but it’s already so much better than before. Now I can’t wait to get painting the floor!
What job would you most like to tick off your list? Do you love ticking boxes off your to-do list as much as we do?