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Once the lining installation process is complete, painting and decoration is where the style and impact of a space really comes to life. 

During the process of installing plasterboard on walls and ceilings, builders and plasterers work hard to ensure the surface is ready for painting. This includes ensuring minimal surface irregularities, creating even joints and completing the final sand.

Some surface variation, however, is inevitable and can be highlighted by glancing light - a condition which exists when light hits the plasterboard surface at an acute angle and casts shadows that highlight any surface irregularities.

The good news is that apart from ensuring your builder or plasterer applies a level 5 finish during installation, your paint choices can be altered to minimise the effects of glancing light.

Bedroom with blue wall, a bed with an ornamental headboard, indoor plant and fold-out side table.


The paint surface on walls and ceilings plays a very important role in determining the effects of glancing light. 


A Level 4 finish presents the painter with a surface comprised of two different materials, namely the plasterboard paper surface and the jointing compound, which have different textures and porosity.

In order to achieve a consistent finish across these materials it is vital that a plasterboard primer sealer is applied.

AS2311, ’Guide to the painting of buildings’, requires that a sealer plus two coats of water based paint must be applied as a minimum. Such a system will provide a surface with minimal difference in texture and porosity.

Roller application for all coats is strongly recommended as it imparts a light texture to the surface and minimises visible differences. If spray application is used, each paint coat should be back rolled while still wet, to create a lightly textured finish, and allowed to dry completely before applying the next coat.

A similar paint system is recommended for a level 5 finish to ensure the best possible result.

Paint finishes

The choice of gloss level can also have a significant impact on the perceived quality of the surface in glancing light conditions.

A matt paint finish provides the highest level of light diffusion and helps to disguise any surface irregularities. It is recommended that a matt finish be used in areas where a higher gloss is not required for functional reasons, such as ceilings.

Higher gloss levels, such as satin, semi gloss and gloss, can accentuate any minor variations in the surface and are recommended only for use over a level 5 finish.


Light colours diffuse light more effectively than dark shades and reduce the effects of glancing light. In rooms where a dark colour is to be used a level 5 finish is recommended.