Cracked Plaster - Bad Paint

In a 90 Year old house, plaster walls have spider cracks. They seem to not be into the plaster, but may be just cracked layers of paint. I see a shiny surface in the cracks, so I wonder if it's cracked paint on top of an old glossy oil pain w/o proper prep.
We primed & painted, but the cracks reappear immediately. A contractor skim coated a room & painte, they came back. Not sure what he used.
I don't want to put in the time and effort of using mesh solutions, and definately don't want to tear out the plaster.
Is hanging wallpaper the best and easiest solution, or can some paint or easy roll on type product cover this?
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It is old bad paint but I had good luck many times with 2-3 coats of thick paint keeping the cracks away for 5 years, Go to a paint store and get a top line latex, you can even leave the top off the cans for a few days to evaporate water and make it thicker. You could even try an exterior product for the first coat it should be more flexible when dry, roll it on as thick as you can.
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gdevinney wrote:

If the paint isn't peeling or blistered, you can fill fine cracks with paintable caulk. It is normally used for corner cracks, which most rooms eventally get. You can smoosh it on with finger and wipe smoothe with damp rag. If cracks are numerous, try applying with wide spackle blade. A little flexibility will probably keep cracks from coming through as quickly, at least, and won't do any harm. Be sure it is paintable!!
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snipped-for-privacy@spam.invalid (gdevinney) wrote:

Probably.
Try using shellac to prime the walls, let it dry (cure) thoroughly (at least a week), cover with jointing compound to fill in the cracks, shellac again (cure) and then paint normally. You can skip the jointing compound and second shellac coat if the wall is smooth already. The shellac forms a hard surface which "floats" over the shifting substrate.

You could also use a liner paper to cover the crazed surface and then paint over that.
Or, depending on how good you want the finish, you could cover the wall with fiberglass mesh and then skim coat the entire thing with jointing compound. I know you don't want to do this but it's really not that hard and it will give you the best finish.
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You might want to try a product from USG called Tuff-Hide. It's a primer/surfacer that's pretty awesome. We repaired cracking and crumbling plaster throughout a church, then used it as a primer. The roofer had trouble flashing some roof to wall areas and there were some pretty good leaks. The worst spot looked like a balloon on the ceiling. The Tuff-Hide didn't leak or crack, but instead held almost a gallon of water. I bet it would work wonders for your application.
Tim
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Thanks for all suggestions. I'll try a few, but won't know the long term results. I'll be happy to get 2 years.
Before reading these, I was going to try Zinsster's Peel-Stop. Guy in paint store recomended against 'cause it's an exterior product and he never heard it used on plaster. Sold me a "leveling primer" made to level tape marks on drywall and small cracks. Did one wall brush primed and then two thick coats of the primer ... used 1 gallon on 150 S/Ft. Looks OK, but will it last?
Maybe I'll finish the room and move on to the next room with some of these suggestions.
gdevinney wrote:

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