restoring my plaster walls - any suggestions?

by RevMalk 15 Replies latest jw friends

  • RevMalk

    When I first bought my home, I had planned on putting drywall over the lathe and plaster walls that exist now.

    After thinking it over, I decided to restore the plaster to keep the home original. That and the fact that the cherry molding would have to be removed on the first floor and I really don't want to do that.

    Anyway, I have been scraping the paint and paper off the walls and the plaster is actually in really good shape aside from a few areas.

    The worst thing is that in a few spots the plaster is not attached to the lathe any longer. The plaster is ok, but you can push it in and out from the lathe.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how I can fix that problem without ripping the plaster off?

    I thought maybe I could drill holes and shoot some adhesive or something in there, but was hoping someone could shed some light on it before I screw it all up.

    Thanks :)


  • Satanus

    Not very experienced at the old stuff. Maybe put in a bunch of long screws into the studs. You might need to counter sink them so that the heads don't stick up. Screw them all in snugly, not too tight, then torque them all a bit more, and again, as needed. This method should keep them from going through the plaster, and hopefully, keep from over torquing the plaster to the cracking point. If some do go through, use washers after counter sinking so they will also be below the plaster surface level. If it cracks, v out the cracks, put on the fiber tape, then do a nice plaster job over the tape.


  • LittleToe

    IMHO you'd be best ripping it back and re-doing it. Chances are it'd give you an idea of the state of the walls behind the lathes, too. The last thing you want to find is dry-rot but if it's there it's best to deal with it, for the sake of your health.

    Plaster really isn't that expensive, and lathes tend to be a bit thin and springy to have much success with screws.

    (LT, "Joiner/Builder in a previous life class")

  • Mulan

    I will have Dave read this thread. He is a drywall contractor, so may have some suggestions for you, about plaster.

  • onacruse

    Hi RevM!

    There are many variables in remodeling older homes. I've been involved with this kind of remodeling/reconstruction for 30 years.

    Please feel free to p/m me if you'd like more info.


    PS: This is not an invite for a bid! LOL You live way too far away from me for that kind of thing.

  • onacruse

    And don't trust Mulan and Dave...they live up here in the Pacific NW, and our brains (and plastered walls) are all water-logged.


    PS: Dave is a much better source of info than am I...uglier, yes, but smarter!

  • Celia

    There are a few things to look at - sounds to me like you are dealing with horse hair plaster? not the more modern.

    Ok, there are some metal washers - about 3.4" in diamater, with a hole in the center that will accomodate a standard dry wall screw - usually 1 5/8" is a standard, you can get longer ones depending on the need. Get a bunch of these washers, check building supply or hardware stores to start, depending on how many "bubbles you have.

    Next, gently push against them and try to find the "hard spots" - ie. places were there is not much give, you can "souround" the bubble with these washers and screws and pull the plaster tight to the lath strips - the washers usually flatten out when enough pressure is applied, but they will keep you from pulling the small screw head through the plaster - which will do you no good.

    You can also try to pull the bubble tight with these screws and see what happens. Some times this works, but I have found that usually the plaster just crumbles out, what has essentially happened here is that the plaster "grabbers" have seperated from the plaster itself, that is, when you apply the plaster to a lath strip the strips have space and the plaster curls around behind them and holds the surface plaster to the wall - when this seperates the blisters occur.

    In this case, when you can not pull the plaster back to the lath strip, you can take it out altogether. If it is a large area you may want to learn a bit about plastering, but for a small area you can consider trying "Duro-bond" this comes in bags and has different setting times - for example "Duro-bond, 45" means that it has 45 min. working time. This sets harder than regular joint compound or spakeling and you can mix it yourself - so you can control the consistency - you want something like a heavy cream, as you want to force it into the openings in the lath strips, have it "grab" the back side and set - not run down the wall.

    You can build up layers as you see fit untill you match the sourounding surface - come close - I like to apply a layer of fiber glass tape to the patch before I put on the final coats, be sure to extend from the patch out over the old plaster by at least 2 inches. You can also hit the final coat with joint coumpound which may be easier to work and may sand out better, it does take more time to dry and will shrink and crack if applied to heavy at one time. Good luck.

    The suggestions to make a good inspection of the walls before covering them is excellent - now is the time. Also cleaning out the cracks, and fiber glass taping over them is good - you could also use the Duro bond here as the base coat.

  • mkr32208

    This old house has some great renovation tips... home depot also sells some good books on doing it I've done it many times but it's pretty complicated better to get someone who knows how to do it to help you at least...!

  • Xandria


    Right now, I deal in preservation for a cemetery. But through this I have learned alot about historic preservation. I will put a few links that may help you. You may also wish to speak with the local historic preservation or conservation groups in your area. They are a great resource. You are on the right track, to first find out how to handle it and do it right to begin with. Preserving plaster. 2

    Hope these help.


  • Celia

    btw. it was not me answering above, but hubby...

    Ask this Old House may have the answer for you....

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