Asked on Jan 14, 2016

How to paint a horse hair wall

Doreen Matuck
by Doreen Matuck
Our house is about 200 years old and my husband refuses to believe that we can paint the dining room walls, Even when we try to hang a painting the nail will dissolve the wall. Help.
  6 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jan 14, 2016
    See if this will help.
  • Christine Christine on Jan 15, 2016
    I don't know about hanging things on horsehair however I do know you can paint on it. My first house many many years ago was horsehair. We skim coated it with plaster it was a long but rather quick job, however I do believe there are things out there that can make the job much easier. I do not know if kilz will help. But my point is that you CAN paint horsehair walls
  • Jim Saurman Jim Saurman on Jan 15, 2016
    If the plaster is losing all it's cohesion, then you have a difficult job ahead of you. If the plaster is so weak that it is dissolving into powder when you put a nail into it, then you will eventually have to replaster the wall, as it will eventually not be able to adhere to the wood lathe underneath and start falling off the wall. But if you aren't ready to replaster yet, then you don't have many options. You can try to put a skim coat of plaster or drywall compound over it as the other person mentioned. Plaster would be best as it's the strongest, but it's also the hardest to work with. You could also try one of those really thick elastomeric roof paints, which have embedded bits of fiber mixed in. I don't really know how easy that would be to apply as it's meant to go on a flat roof, but it certainly is really thick and strong once dried. But once you build up some sort of a stable surface, then you can repaint as normal. You may have to do a lot of sanding to get things back to normal looking before adding the normal paint. The last option is to hire a drywall contractor and put a very thin sheet of drywall over the wall. I don't really like solutions like that as it changes the character of the history of the house. Plus it's a big hassle to fix all the baseboards or chair rails or crown moulding if any. Good luck.
  • LD LD on Jan 15, 2016
    Horse hair is a plaster wall, and therefore is not designed for hanging pictures directly on the plaster, but from a picture rail that is attached to the studs at the ceiling. Of course, this practice of hanging pictures is no longer done. You can install drywall over the plaster or you can paint the current wall. Depends on the weight of the picture you are hanging you could see if the Command Picture Hangers will work. Here is a link regarding painting an horse hair plaster wall:; and here is a link for drywalling over horse hair plaster:
    • See 4 previous
    • Kathryn Peltier Kathryn Peltier on Jan 17, 2016
      I hope that works for her. If the plaster is loose, however, putting the weight only on the plaster probably won't work. Anyway, she has some options.
  • Jen Jen on Jan 15, 2016
    Behr makes a "plaster/paint" that is a miracle when it comes to old walls...Friend used it on a B and B and we used it on our 1923 lathe and plaster walls....Like night and day! I'ver also used Ralph Lauren sand paint which was a tad pricey..but both sealed the deal! And the walls :-)
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Jan 15, 2016
    We have horsehair plaster throughout our 1850's farmhouse, and believe me when I tell you that they have been painted many, many times! You just need a good primer to start with and some good spackling to fix any holes or cracks. I always use Benjamin Moore interior matte finish and the results are always great. Now, hanging a picture is a whole different story...