NEED HELP with plaster walls
Alisha Potter
February 26, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Our home was built in 1902, and we are remodeling one of the bedrooms which seemed simple enough. But we tore down the wallpaper and found not one, but several layers of wallpaper, and a brittle plaster wall underneath. We tore off as many layers as we could, and sanded the walls to try and make them smooth, but to our dismay, the walls just keep peeling. We also found a huge hole in the ceiling, and giant cracks in the wall. The third picture shows after we tried sanding, we primed the wall, but as you can see, it just peels and peels.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to successfully prepare my walls for painting, how to plaster, or maybe has some experience re-doing a century home?
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Ironwood Builders
Yep. Neglected homes get wet. So the moisture held in by all that wallpaper rotted your plaster. On the ceiling, you can skin it out with dry wall, on the walls, remove the trim, scrape the plaster off the walls and install 3/8" dry wall (or 1/2" which ever is closest to your existing plaster). Tape and flat finish the drywall. Reinstall your trim. Buuut! Before all that, take the opportunity to run new electrical wires to all code required locations. If getting to the ceiling is a problem for a fixture, switch an outlet and use a lamp. A licensed electrician needs to do this work...with a permit. He/she will recommend a new panel at the same time. Do that too. Electrical fires are the main cause of all house fires now (meth labs a distant second!). Run new water supplies to the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry. A licensed plumber and a permit are necessary for this too. I know you did not expect the rewire and re plumb when asking about plaster...or the tough love answer
February 26, 2013 at 9:41pm     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
BMF CONSTRUCTION
Several methods:
For the smaller imperfections hire a plasterer to refinish, if possible. Next option:
smooth, patch and skim coat the entire surface with drywall compound. You might need to apply the first coat using a 45 or 60 minute mix since this will hold up better than a pre-mixed compound. For the major work (such as the ceiling), attach a layer of new drywall, screw through into the studs, tape and finish.
February 26, 2013 at 9:42pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Alisha Potter
Ok thank you guys. That is quite the tough love answer.
March 2, 2013 at 8:42am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Olde World Walls & Ceilings, Inc
Other than the drywall suggestion, I absolutely agree with Ironwood Builders. But hey, that's just me being a purist! Absolutely fix your out dated electrical and plumbing issues now. Hopefully you will find a good plasterer (look for an older semi-retired fellow that will work with you) and plaster the walls if your budget will allow. If not, the above suggestions are right on target.
Randy
March 5, 2013 at 5:30am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Ironwood Builders
Olde Worlde, I actually agree about plaster repair as opposed to laminating drywall. Perhaps my take on the situation is wrong...I read into this that the project is DIY and my advice about electrical, plumbing and...oops!....insulation!....will push the budget out of whack. Regardless, any drywall needs to be finished and a plaster over blue board is almost as cost effective as a Level 4 smooth wall with joint compound.
March 5, 2013 at 7:30am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Olde World Walls & Ceilings, Inc
Thanks, appreciate that! There are a lot of older plasterers out there that really enjoy what they do and if Ms. Potter can find one in her area, it should help with the costs versus hiring a plastering company. I say this because you were right to point out all that should be done with the home first and it's not going to be cheap...and she was just thinking of a bedroom...

Here we have a home built in the 1880's and the homeowner has had to do all those upgrades you mention (he had the old knob and tube electrical, plumbing, etc.) to bring his home up to code but his is a whole house remodel. We will be on the project for him but it has definitely changed the pace of the job, which we understand and are working with him as he has us coming in for a little of the work at a time now. But it is worth it to us to see the home being brought back to a better than original condition!
March 5, 2013 at 7:59am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Linda
As an old home lover, I understand the tough love comments. Ironwood made a comment on another thread about old homes being unsuitable candidates for flipping, because of the importance of the details

In my area, part of the problem with the older homes is that they are so much cheaper than the newer properties. Buyers with limited budgets buy an older home to get the space they want and then don't have the funds to fix them correctly - or even to patch them adequately.

If the plaster is still solid, just with a few cracks, you can use plaster washers to reattach it to the lathe. I've also seen a synthetic fabric mesh that is adhered to the surface with an epoxy. I've not used either of those products, but would love to hear from anyone who has actually used either. Removing plaster and lathe is an ugly, dirty job but once that plaster really starts to crumble, there's no other valid option. If you pull off the trim and remove the plaster, consider leaving the lathe. Most people remove the lathe, replace with half inch drywall and then are stuck trying to figure out how to put the trim back up when all the baseboards and crown are now too short for the longer walls.

In my area, if you don't remove the lathe from the walls, you aren't required to bring the electrical up to code. Not saying that's a good idea! but if you're just working on a single limited area you might be able to wait on the electrical work until you're doing a more major rehab. Even if you don't have the funds available to do the work, call in an electrician now to find out what needs to be done. Look carefully and ask lots of questions as finding a good old house electrician is more difficult than just checking for a license. I suggest checking with your local historic preservation group or other old house lovers for names as you'll need someone who loves old houses. From a work perspective, historic houses are a passionate subject - you either love them or you hate them!
March 5, 2013 at 8:24am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
aniluap2
I have a 97 year old home with plaster walls and once we removed the wallpaper we understood why it was there. There were cracks in every room. We kept most of our plaster and updated the electrical and plumbing by breaking into the plaster and repairing the new holes made as well as the old fissures. It is the more expensive option so I agree with ironwood on this if this is a DIY . Wallpaper can also hide a multitude of defects but to plaster you really need someone that knows what they are doing. If the cracks are not fixed properly and you skim over them, they will appear in a matter of time. The electrical and plumbing should be addressed by an expert since the old knob and tube wiring in many cases presents a fire hazard and worn old plumbing develops holes that can spring leaks and can lead to broken pipes .. One friend actually had sewage dumped into her living room.
March 5, 2013 at 8:55am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
maureenroth
I have had much success using plaster washers, available from Lee Valley, to repair walls. I believe there are instructions included.
March 5, 2013 at 9:59am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Olde World Walls & Ceilings, Inc
Linda,

We've not used the washers, we do try to leave as much of the original plaster in place as possible, repairing damaged lath as necessary but we prefer to remove plaster if it is damaged or sketchy rather than anchoring it. I've left out steps that we would take in our process but hopefully I've given Ms. Potter a better idea of things that she can do in her old home. SInce she is only talking about working in a bedroom, she does have the option of not addressing electrical & plumbing issues but sooner or later they will need to be addressed. I recommend sooner rather than later...

We had to go into a home built in the 1920's that had fire damage due to the knob & tube wiring. For us this was a wonderful project as the homeowner wanted it done the old way, the right way. They ended up having us re-plaster the entire home, removing all plaster back to the original wood lath; their personal preference. We replicated all the cove ceilings the home had, we're very proud of that project.

Aniluap2,

Wallpaper does hide a multitude of sins, doesn't it? yes, cracks can be opened and repaired, then depending upon the amount of them we would recommend a skim coat over those repairs but agree with you completely, the repairs must be made first. Sorry to hear about your friend's trouble with the pipes.

As I mentioned, the best option for Ms. Potter, if she doesn't want to tackle this alone is to find an old plasterer or generation plasterer to work with her (guys that work only with stucco often times don't have the necessary knowledge to work on older homes), especially if it is a smaller project; there is nothing plasterers like more than educating homeowners and showing off our talents. Just hoping to keep the plaster in her home.

I've really enjoyed speaking with each of you today, you've really made the time spent working on plans that much more enjoyable! Thank you.

Randy
March 5, 2013 at 10:10am     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Ironwood Builders
Hi all, I've used the plaster washers....yeah, not so good. They don't lay flat and skim coats get thick. They may stabilize the area a bit but since you are only screwing into lath, the vibration of installing them makes things worse. And the cracks just come back. Laminating thin drywall over lathe can work to keep jambs and baseboards the right size....but replastering is pretty much the answer if you want it to be really excellent. The fiberglass mesh is good stuff...but expensive for doing an entire wall. Or room.
March 5, 2013 at 10:46am   
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
DCLOSTBOY Report to Classy Bedroom Thread! .....please :)
Here is my lovely bedroom (can we sense the sarcasm?)....
Decorating a RV Bus
Wanting to update and upgrade the look of our new bus....
Need affordable lighting suggestions - dining, living and entrance
I'm renovating a house in order to sell it and need...
Color scheming
Trying to figure out what color rug and throw and accents...
New ideas for built in's, TV and/or fireplace with Matel
We recently bought this house. I need ideas of how...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2014 Houzz Inc.
Houzz® The new way to design your home™