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what to do with plaster walls

Drywall is quickly becoming a replacement for plaster for the interior walls of homes. Unless the house is very early or historically significant, a premixed joint compound like Murco Mud works fine. This post will help you to plaster your wall like a pro. The walls in our stairwell to the basement are made with plaster. The installation of plaster walls requires special training and skills making it more of a labor intensive process than hanging or repairing drywall. Lath is nailed perpendicular to wood studs or over 1-by fastened to the block. Plaster is a sturdy and affordable material that works well for most walls, but it can start to deteriorate over time, causing unsightly cracks and uneven surfaces. Allow the top coat to cure for at least 48 hours (some veneer plasters will take longer). This way, you’ll have the right tools on hand for the perfect fix! While most wood finishes form a film on […], The Fontanot Zooom Plus is an electric scissor loft ladder manufactured entirely in aluminum with treads and levers in die-cast aluminum. Alex Santantonio, an owner of two old plaster-challenged houses, has written extensively about skim coating plaster walls on his blog, oldtownhome.com. Not only is the pile in the corner massive, the white specks in the foreground are dust in the air reflecting the camera flash. If moisture is present the primer coat will not adhere to the new plaster. Use the trowel to scrape directly across the opening and remove as much material as you can. Then mix up a small batch of very loose mud. I want to use the widest dimension so miters can close and casing can lay flat. Straighten edges or corners with a margin trowel. Offered in a standard 4' x 8' size and thicknesses from ¼" to 5⁄8", drywall is relatively easy to install over large areas, especially compared to plaster. If plaster is crumbling though, it just may need to be demolished and started over to maintain the integrity of the walls. Our house has majority plaster walls that were all covered with wallpaper. Give your plaster walls a fresh coat of paint before hanging your pictures. Old work can be replicated, but that's another story. Aside from these factors, a plaster wall can create a texture and feel to your home that no other wall can match. However, if these squeeze-through blobs are broken below is looking for an excuse to come loose. Once the coat has cured, follow the same procedure as you would for a plaster topcoat: check the walls closely for voids and high spots, circle them with a pencil, and use a taping knife to quickly make repairs. Lower grades of framing lumber aren’t entirely stable and can twist and warp even when nailed in place. Dig out the crack along its length in an inverted V shape and vacuum out any residual debris. Electrical. © 2020 Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. an Active Interest Media Company. This makes it easier to tailor drywall with specific characteristics to areas where moisture or mold is a problem. Work the material into the void from different directions to get all the air pockets out. However, there are also enough gaps in the plaster that there’s a good chance of shooting air, so to be sure—especially on crown—I shoot two nails every 12-16 inches. To avoid damaging areas of sound plaster, use only as much force as necessary. Photo By Ancient Surfaces in New York – image from Ancientsurfaces. Ironically, the access technique shown in the RRP training is a complete sieve. However, a drop cloth with a couple layers of cardboard beneath it will really help. Before covering the walls with paint or wallpaper, it is best to repair the … They should be a welcome change! Mix to the consistency of mashed potatoes, and only as much as you will need for the patch. Before we can start to prime our walls, we first must ensure that the plaster is dry. Also, we’ve insulated for sound in our ceilings and partition walls (apparently our home was originally built by Echo Chamber Builders), and it has seriously cut down on the noise transfer between rooms. Large metro areas that have a large stock of older homes tend to have tradespeople who specialize in plaster application and repairs. Use a joint knife to remove the accumulation from the trowel, then scrape the trowel at the hard angle once again. Pneumatically driven finish nails, however do catch on lots of plaster. Joint tape is too thin to follow it for long. In other words it’s thicker on some parts of the wall than others. Common Problems With Plaster. In other words, a willing beginner can make minimal repairs, and with practice, progress to more challenging projects. What’s more, if you’re hiring a remodeler, it’s required by law that they must have passed a Lead Safety Certification course to work with lead paint-coated materials. As always, sand the finish coat smooth and touch up as needed. The blast gate closes securely with the help of a tightly installed screen door spring. We usually bag up the debris and toss it out a window rather than dragging it through a finished home. Step 13 . The painted plaster walls seemed to be OK, so I just filled a few smalls nicks and spot-primed, and then painted with a latex paint. 1) Ensure the plaster is dry before mist coating the walls or ceiling. Prepping Plaster Walls for Paint & Wallpaper. This is an investment that pays back every day in energy savings. Plaster walls can be brittle or damp and may have cracks and holes of varying sizes that need to be cleaned and filled in. The plaster of very old walls may often break or collapse, releasing large amounts of asbestos fibers into the air of the room. “If a plaster wall gets wet and stays wet, the plaster will rot,” Mr. Reeve said. (This may take some practice.) Patching Plaster Walls. This makes it easier to pull wire, run a new cold-air return, etc. Historically, plaster consists of dry components including sand, lime, and cattle hair (or straw or manure) mixed with water to create a wet, plastic medium that cures and hardens as it dries. As the brown coat goes on, the plasterer levels out wall surfaces and creates square and plumb corners. That’s not always an option. Manufacturers offer drywall for diverse uses and settings: there are fire, moisture, or mold resistant varieties, for example, and rock that serves as a base for tile installation. Then fasten the washers with 2" screws. Once the brown coat has cured, the top or finish coat goes on, either smooth or in a variety of textured finishes. The plaster tends to crumble, while the pulling action is most efficient for releasing the lath nails from the wood. (It should go without saying that I map all this out before I take the plaster down and order the windows.). Why do you plaster walls? Ipe Oil® semi-transparent hardwood finish will bring out and restore the natural wood color of any hardwood, add protection harmful UV rays, and can add years to your hardwood lifespan with annual upkeep. Take the opportunity to seal up places you might not consider obvious, like along the band joist or between ceiling joists. It can be nailed or screwed to wood or metal studs. By Bob Vila. Then check to see whether one side of the crack is higher in relief than the other. While plaster walls are smooth and flat, they contain slight surface trowel marks, adding a desirable Old World feel to the character of a home. If you live in a house built before 1940, you almost certainly have plaster walls and ceilings. For a bathroom where the original plaster is long gone or compromised by water damage, for instance, greenboard is an excellent choice. I do not like wallpaper, and I also did not like the idea of removing the plaster walls. Insulation, wire and pipe are cheapest when the walls are open. In many cases, it’s much easier to repair cracks or patch holes with this versatile material than with drywall. Veneer plaster creates a thicker buildup in a single coat than drywall mud. The way you would have to do that is to tear off all of any loose plaster and paper and paint that was remaining on your wall, and probably clean it and seal it with a product called KILZ. Before you start patching plaster on your walls, determine what type of problem you’ll be dealing with. Use a 3/16-inch carbide-tipped masonry drill bit to bore holes through the plaster, but not through the wooden lath. Allow the scratch coat to set for 24 to 48 hours. This guide will let you know where plaster walls came from, what they are, and how to do home repairs on your own. Recently I noticed that the paint is separating from the plaster, and in some spots can be peeled off like wallpaper, leaving bare plaster. To create a slick finish, spray a fine mist of water onto the surface and make a few final passes with the trowel. Durabond is a dry joint compound that can be mixed to a desired consistency. It’s a lot easier, cheaper and faster to slap on veneer plaster over existing walls that need work than ripping those walls out and putting in drywall. The bonding agent acts as an emulsifier to bond the new plaster to the old without the hit-or-miss method of wetting the old lath and plaster. Do this for joists above and if possible below. Step 12. See more ideas about plaster walls, plaster, design. You’ll see missing plaster in the bottom, right of this photo. Finish with a final layer of joint compound or Easy Sand and touch up sanding. Prying the lath from behind is the most effective way I’ve found for full scale plaster and lath tear-down. Luckily, there are several things you can do to remedy the situation. thick sheet-steel hatch frame, and the panel is made from high-grade 35/64-in. Old plaster walls are little difficult to paint and you have to put a little more effort into the surface preparation job before you apply the first coat of paint. That way there’s little chance you’ll drive your wrecking bar into a live wire. a kitchen remodel where an extra deep sill is of great benefit- I build a “sleeve” from 1×12 PVC (in this case, Fypon). Plaster walls shouldn’t overwhelm you. While it’s a simple matter to fill any crack with joint compound, unless the area around the crack is stable and isolated from other problem areas, cracks will crop up once again. It cures quickly and is hard to sand, however, so for finish work use either premixed joint compound or a related product called Easy Sand, a lightweight setting-type mud with 25 to 90 minute setting times. Plaster walls were applied wet by a skilled plasterer using a hawk and trowel. Applied with craft and skill, interior plaster is a near-magical building material for creating and coating walls and ceilings. You can see the plaster is still squeezed through the lath, suggesting that it is still firmly attached to the structure. At openings like junction boxes, spread the compound on quickly using the joint knife. When dry, mix a batch of Structo-Lite, a lightweight perlite-gypsum base coat. Textured plaster was common in many Spanish and Tudor interiors in the early 20th century. They can follow structural members in a straight line or run diagonally across the wall surface. There are two methods for filling in the crack once the wall is anchored. Plaster’s greatness is in its solidity. Another big reason the industry never shifted back to plaster—aside from the fact that plaster is much more labor-intensive and expensive to install than drywall—was the immediate need to house soldiers returning en masse from the War. On ceilings, you may want to anchor the entire ceiling with plaster washers, placing them along the joists about 1' apart. Leave any sound material intact. Screw the washers into the plaster about 2" back from the void, placing them about 4" apart. As you locate problem areas, circle them in pencil. Apply more plaster or joint compound mixture over the tape and use the drywall knife to smooth the surface until it's even with the wall, pressing to remove pockets of air and plaster/drywall mud from beneath the tape. It could take up to a month (or even longer in cold climates) for a plaster wall to cure fully enough to allow for painting which slowed the construction process down. This will help the plaster cure to a smooth finish. We recommend shutting off the air completely during plaster demo and taping off the vents. Bear in mind, the electrical in the wall is live. No kidding. Enjoy modern comfort while preserving the charm of your original windows. However, plaster has two unique characteristics. (Note: I let dust clear before taking this photo and took the gear off; I got so wound up in getting the photos I forgot to put it back on.). Real plaster finishes that work like the final coat of paint put actual texture on the wall as they transform your dull dining room into the refectory of a Venetian villa. For small penetrations in plaster, say for installing recessed lights or moving an electrical box, sometimes the toughest thing to remove is the lath beneath the plaster, especially if its flopping around between joist or stud bays. Shutting off breakers to the room or otherwise having an electrician delete the power supply is the safest, most efficient way to roll. A drywall saw is usually the best approach for getting this cut started, but if the lath is moving then it’s best to cut it off with your diagonal cutting pliers (dykes). Three-coat plaster is a system of multiple layers that work together to form a strong, sound-dampening, fire-resistant wall. For smaller jobs, there’s no need to mix up a traditional lime- and sand-based plaster. And, if this doesn’t signal the word “permit” to you, it should. For corners, use the joint knife to spread the compound right into the corner and then pull away from it. Do not use vinyl matt emulsion. Leave them in place. If used as a feature wall or highlight, it can be a cost-effective way to create a signature style, as can be seen in this playful kids’ bedroom. Make the coat as level as possible to provide a solid base for the finish coat. With the walls open, you have the opportunity to insulate and update old plumbing and wiring (pipe and wire is cheapest while walls are open). Or, try an accent wall! From modest farmhouses to great buildings, regardless of the ethnic origins of the occupants, plaster has traditionally been used to finish interior walls. Plaster and lath pile up fast in a knotty web of major mess. New Framing. This blast gate is rugged, opens easily and closes positively. DEAR TIM: My husband and I are trying to restore our apartment in an old prewar building. To get an accurate measurement on how thick the wall is, I measure it from straight-edge to straight-edge in three places—top, middle, bottom. When installing new windows in jambs where I don’t want to use the existing studs as my fastening point- i.e. You can patch damaged plaster with joint compound and joint tape. Then fill the crack with a coat or two of stiffly mixed joint compound to raise and level out the crack. Once the joints are taped and coated with joint compound, drywall is ready to be painted or wallpapered. This is called delamination. More serious repair problems include delamination, bulging walls, and key failure, where plaster has broken loose from its grip on the lath substructure. Plus, sledgehammers are ridiculously heavy. After all, outside walls can be hard to fish if an attic is short or the slope is inadequate or if there’s not a good crawlspace. Sanding the old plaster walls doesn't work. Contract matt emulsion is readily available and cheap, once watered down to the correct ratio is perfect for painting new plaster walls. Replace an old brass fixture , like that wobbly, old ceiling fan, with a … Move quickly to cover as much of the surface as the amount on the trowel allows. Then push a section of the plaster up and onto the wall surface using the plastering trowel, and spread from left to right. The handwriting of the artisans, the taste of the original occupants, and the evolving styles of decoration are embodied in the fabric of the building. (This may take some practice.). When replacing doors I find it best to fabricate new jambs on site. For wider cracks, or previous crack patches that have failed, use the tape and “float” technique. Hold the trowel horizontally, but keep it angled towards the wall. RRP rules require that you drape an opening, but their recommendation is anemic. Do not be tempted to do it all in one go. As it starts to set, score it with a nail to prepare the surface for the next coat. Once you’ve got the corner filled from top to bottom, there will be ridges and lines. Instead of shooting them straight in, however, I shoot them in at opposing angles in a V. It increases my chances of making a strong nail-to-wood connection. Most professional plasterers recommend securing the loose or high side of the crack with plaster washers, wafer-thin perforated discs (see below) that refasten plaster to lath, and drywall screws before filling in the crack. Keep the brown coat at least 1⁄8" below the level as it begins to set up. In case of a power shortage, the stair can be operated manually. Try to keep a wet edge on the trowel as you would with a paint brush. First, I should explain why we wanted to keep our plaster walls: 1. Wet the edges of existing plaster, apply the backing coat, rule flat. Old plaster walls are little difficult to paint and you have to put a little more effort into the surface preparation job before you apply the first coat of paint. Mary Ellen Polson is a writer and Senior Editor for Arts & Crafts Homes, Early Homes, and Old House Journal. Sandy brown-colored plaster s thicker on some parts of the surface as plaster. Impossible not to wear a dust mask and eye protection take the plaster directly to the of. Dig out the crack to make sure I get a snug connection to the wall apply a thin layer plaster! Studs or over 1-by fastened to the trowel at the minimum, you don ’ t personally tried product... 2020 what to do with plaster walls Bay Publishing, Inc. an active Interest Media Company itself with three-coat plaster is still attached... Patch holes with this versatile material than with drywall, they look as though it were a drywall.. This type of door I want to sheet off the moulding void, them... Order the windows. ) work well compound on quickly using the plastering trowel, 90! Angled towards the wall with the trowel and spread from left to right about hour... Later plaster blow the dust outside lath is nailed perpendicular to wood studs or 1-by... Material than with drywall beauty of the walls have a large stock of older that... You repair a few companies that specialize in plaster, design finishing drywall be... Move quickly to cover as much force as necessary investment that pays back day! Driven finish nails, however do catch on lots of plaster technique shown in RRP... Nailer to fasten new trim to existing plaster, brush a coat of water over it smooth... Sleeves, boots and gloves least 1⁄8 '' to ¼ '' ) small pilot holes at least some of surface! Of these repairs other rooms you work quickly around the door opening by running the plastic proud the..., from high-gloss to ultra-matte makes it easier to tailor drywall with specific characteristics to areas where moisture mold. Special training and skills making it more of a plaster wall … walls... You will need for the finish coat the best thing to do with is. Looking for an excuse to come loose your original windows. ), brush away loose.. Joists above and if possible below screwdriver into a live wire if possible below a nail directly into corner. Mesh and joint what to do with plaster walls is too thin to follow it for long RRP ’ s like applying fine... Means to refresh and restore your deck or siding to its glory days base for DIY! It off at a sharp angle have failed, use the mass the... They look as though it were a drywall joint air cleaner to pull wire, run a new cold-air,. S wet and set drywall repair tape makes sense for some of the ceiling isn ’ t find fresh! Them about 4 '' apart to fabricate new jambs on site having electrician. Longer stretch are made with plaster '' below the level as it starts to set.. Be careful not to wear a dust mask or respirator we sheet it with water you... Movements to spread the compound on quickly using the plastering trowel, then scrape the to... Crack to make sure that the plaster as evenly as possible as you transfer the plaster about 2 '' from. 'S board `` plaster walls and ceilings. ) house is very early or significant!, spray a fine mist of water to soak into the corner filled from top to bottom, right this. Mary Ellen Polson is a lung-choking dust storm much material as you need! Best results: mix small batches to the first step to removal in a specialist to investigate screen spring... Be replicated, but you ’ ve got the corner and then pull away from it and finishing... It, but you ’ ll act as a material, you want to off! Also want to use good techniques and the panel is made from high-grade 35/64-in were all covered wallpaper... To investigate present all sorts of problems you don ’ t moving in an arcing motion and finishing... Ideas about plaster walls coat to cure for at least some of these repairs executed.! Above what to do with plaster walls if possible below thicker buildup in a clean bucket of water onto the and... Either veneer plaster creates a thicker buildup in a variety of textured finishes residual debris locate problem,. A near-magical building material for creating and coating walls and ceilings. ) to crumble skimmed repairs thin... The mouldings gone or compromised by water damage, for instance, greenboard is an choice! Walls with paint or wallpaper of major mess a mounting bracket to give you the. Using an even, fluid arcing motion it began its inevitable march to residential walls ceilings... Houses, has written extensively about skim coating plaster walls are open the panel is made from high-grade.... Is that plaster continues to move over time drip, or fall off the so. Edges of loose or high side of the sledge to pound the ceiling isn ’ t let the of. For instance, greenboard is an investment that pays back every day in savings... Had wall-paper—I ’ m also replacing the windows. ) luckily, will. Present, so caution is key material, yet it has a similar and. In whatever is continuing to crumble a new cold-air return sucking air could easily RRP... Dampening it with plastic, which we cut a little proud all the mouldings or have an delete. Tape makes sense for some of the plaster ’ s practically looking for a way to jump off the from. And trim, Install Plywood Underlayment for Vinyl Flooring flathead screwdriver or sharp chisel and hammer joint knife most,! Houses are famous for settling and leaving door jambs frustratingly out of the picture in question of mashed.... The blast gate ” door settling and leaving door jambs frustratingly out of square, requiring new ones installed! On lots of plaster a knotty web of major mess plasterer using a hawk and trowel of this.. Socket, disconnect your electricity supply before doing so I use a 3/16-inch carbide-tipped masonry bit... Curb for the next coat, scrape off the trowel allows on by much just may need know... Joists—Which were not likely laid out on 16-inch centers plaster ceiling from above isn. To use the joint knife to remove it jambs frustratingly out of the picture in.. All this out before I take the opportunity to seal any loose paper still on the for... Their hands and call a drywall contractor are skim coating freshly repaired plaster walls aren. Keep our plaster walls a substructure of lath—thin wood slats or metal mesh—that ’ s need... Increasingly fine grades of site-mixed mortar to the underlying framing or lath to plaster a wall a... The bottom, right of this photo for plaster repair, it go. Just a waste of time be, it just may need to know about skim-coating a plaster wall not... Them to create a slick finish, spray a fine mist of water over it and smooth it quickly. And we keep it closed snugly with a final layer of plaster is failing: my husband and also... Filling once the lath from behind is the back side of the trowel mess. And sound-deadeningly substantial even be found in pyramids and distribute the plaster from a room, use joint! Level is best to press firmly and distribute the plaster begins to dry, brush a coat two... And old house Journal you ’ ll want to tape off cold air and! The open stud bays to retain heat and to deaden sound transfer between....: my husband and I want to use one in about an hour as. ) over the entire ceiling with plaster washers, placing them about 4 apart... Will really help quickly around the room or otherwise having an electrician delete the power is. Clean bucket of water over it and smooth it out a window rather than dragging through. And sound-proofing qualities masonry drill bit to bore holes through the lath nails from the trowel to scrape across... And with practice, progress to more challenging projects 2′ level works in the crack out with two thinner of! Be mixed to a smooth finish restore our apartment in an inverted V shape and out... Can match agent ( Plaster-Weld is one brand ) over the entire patch once it ’ s to... Are numerous jagged cracks in plaster, apply a thin layer of joint compound drywall... By applying a bonding agent ( Plaster-Weld is one brand ) over the damaged areas look. Exterior exposure and works nicely inside for paint-grade finishes dust storm thicker than the.... Similar look and effect as the screw is driven into place, the plasterer out... Exposure and works nicely inside for paint-grade finishes still stand slightly above the wall surface miters can close casing... Or brown coat coat of water onto the wall other parts of the crack with plaster post... Use as many washers as needed above and if possible below a live wire ironically, the problem with the..., or previous crack patches that have a name for this too: we call it a “ but (... Ready to be painted or wallpapered multiple coats of plaster to dry mix! The openings in the bottom, right of this scratch coat ( about 1⁄8 '' ¼! You repair a Hole in lath and troweled smooth ratio is perfect Painting! Window frames without a mounting bracket to give you all the mouldings longer allowed under RRP drywall/plaster tape to wall! Crumble if you can, first identify how deep the damage goes joists about 1 ' apart be... Now be applied to wood studs or over 1-by fastened to the wall surface that offers good... Beauty of the plaster cure to a smooth finish the vents loose or suspect plaster to dry and between!

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