New-Build Decorating Guide: Patience and Precautions for a Flawless Finish

…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media. Decorating a New-Build Home: Expert Advice for Timing and Precautions


When moving into a new-build home, many people are eager to personalize their space and add their own touch.

However, experts caution that rushing into decorating could have costly consequences.

Mike Norton, the trade and projects director at Magnet Trade, warns that new building materials require time to dry out and settle, and advises leaving a 12-month gap before decorating.


The Drying and Settling Process: According to Mike Norton, the drying and settling process is crucial for new building materials such as wood frame, concrete, and plaster.

These materials need time to adjust to the space and temperature, which can cause them to shrink or expand.

In colder climates like the UK, where temperature fluctuations are common, this process may take longer.

Painting the walls too soon can hinder the drying process, leading to cracks, nail pops, and poor paint finish.

Implications of Premature Decorating: Prematurely painting or applying wallpaper to new-built walls can have detrimental effects.


Mike emphasizes that wallpaper suffocates the walls and inhibits airflow, impeding the drying process even further.

Hairline cracks and nail pops can form underneath wallpaper, leading to potential trouble and expenses down the line.

Re-doing the wallpaper or paint job can be both time-consuming and costly, with potential additional expenses for re-plastering.

The Importance of Patience: Mike advises resisting the temptation to decorate for the first 12 months in a new-build home.

Minor cracks may appear during the drying period, but most builders will fix them at no cost.


Applying patience allows for the completion of the drying and shrinkage process, preventing more severe damage.

Going against the builder’s advice may result in builders refusing to repair any damage caused by premature decorating.

Alternative Options and Precautions: If waiting is not an option, Mike suggests using “breathable” paint, which is water-based rather than plastic-based.

He also recommends using central heating sparingly to allow natural expansion and contraction of walls and joinery with the seasons.

Proper ventilation is vital, so opening windows to ensure a gentle flow of fresh air is advised.


Conclusion: Taking the time to allow new-built homes to dry and settle before decorating is crucial for avoiding costly damage and ensuring a quality finish.

Following the expert advice of professionals like Mike Norton can help homeowners make informed decisions and avoid unnecessary expenses.

By prioritizing patience and considering alternative options, homeowners can achieve the desired personalization of their new-build homes without compromising the integrity of the walls and surfaces.

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