So I did something rash...

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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JamesReed
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:35 pm
Location: Lisbon Falls, Maine

Re: So I did something rash...

Post by JamesReed »

Chin up, you can do this. I did a whole house of multiple layers of paper over bare plaster. Towards the end I had a steamer (the As Seen On TV type, cleans your stove, your tires, your grill, your kids, etc), and that did help dissolve the final layer of paste. But on most of the house I just used water and wide-bladed putty knives / drywall-mud-speader-things.

It's a good idea to use scrapers that have rounded corners, lest you dig gouges into the wall and make more repair work for yourself. Just take and old one (or buy a cheap one) and grind the corners to, say, quarter-inch radius, with a grinding wheel.

I found that old, thin bath towels, soaked but not dripping, would cling to the walls on their own. This softened up large areas quickly. I never got things so wet that the plaster seemed to be in danger of turning to mud, but I would recommend caution nevertheless.

If the paper is really paper, not vinyl-ish, I see little use for the Paper Tiger perforators. The paper soaks up water well enough without needing extra holes.

Once everything was free of paper and glue, I sanded and patched like crazy with joint compound. There wasn't any serious plaster repair to do, thank goodness. Then a coat of shellac-type primer (like B-I-N), then new paper.

nezwick
Posts: 331
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:45 pm
Location: Corsica, PA

Re: So I did something rash...

Post by nezwick »

Thanks for all the tips and encouragement.

I actually haven't gotten back to this project, but I did get the car finished up. All in all, it needed about $500 worth of repairs: reman cylinder head (old one AND my spare one both had cracks), gasket set, thermostat, water pump, harmonic balancer, and of course all new fluids. I enjoy doing mechanical work like this and my dad always helps so we got to do a project together. But it was just the fact that all of this had to be done at once was the most frustrating part of it all.

Back on topic, I was going to try to get some better quality photos of the condition of the plaster today, but ended up doing other things. There are a few areas which will need patched which you can kind of see in my original cell phone pics, but nothing huge like entire sections of degraded plaster. So I'm happy about that. I am going to try with the simplest method first (just plain water) and work my way up from there if needed. I'd rather do things as "naturally" as possible so nothing damages the old plaster.

Even though wallpaper technically would be the most accurate, preservationist thing to do - I have decided I am going to paint these walls, and not apply new wallpaper. I would like to stick with a latex paint for health reasons (no fumes and easier cleanup) - Again, I realise it's not what the old-timers would have done. But I do think I will try brushing the paint on instead of using a roller, to get that correct texture.
The McCullough/Simkins house, built 1872-1877:
Progress thread on Old House Web

Texas_Ranger
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Re: So I did something rash...

Post by Texas_Ranger »

No fumes? I beg to differ... without knowing the exact formulations I'm willing to bet that while latex paint is considerably less toxic/smelly than modern oil paint, it's certainly not zero VOC like milk paint, whitewash, mineral paint or calcimine. BTW, I've always wanted to know if it isn't possible to mix your own calcimine using wallpaper paste and powdered chalk... both "paint glue" and traditional wallpaper paste are in fact methylated cellulose glue and behave in a very similar way.. I have to admit I belong to tthe slowly shrinking fan group of calcimine (it used to be readily available in Europe until very recently) because it's so incredibly easy to use, doesn't smell at all, is non-toxid, non-caustic and you can wash it out of brushes and rollers even months later if you forget them. Of course you can't wash the walls since that'd take the paint off, but you can take superficial stains off with a damp rag without taking the wall down to bare plaster. Eventually you'll have to scrape it off, depending on how often you repaint - you can paint it over a few times, but the longer you wait the more likely the fresh paint will make the old layers bubble and come off, for example if you paint on top of an old layer older than about 15 years. However, scraping it off is easily done, much easier than wallpaper or any other kind of paint.

If you don't want to experiment yourself, here's a Canadian supplier for zero-VOC paints and other finishes:
http://www.tockay.com/en/produits
(couldn't find a US supplier, apparently they closed down).

The Vega clay paint is a fancy name for calcimine, the Vega wall paint is milk paint (caseine) and the lime paint is self-explanatory).
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

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shizzy
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:28 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: So I did something rash...

Post by shizzy »

Sacto Diane wrote:My preferred method is a garden sprayer with water and some dif. The garden sprayer makes it easy to soak an area while you scrap another location. The shot below was 3 layers of wallpaper. Those little spray bottles don't get enough volume to get the paper saturated quickly.

Image

Just for grins, here is the "after" shot.

Image

Diane
That's just how I do it. although I simply use warm water. I usually spray about three sections of paper. let it sit a few minutes and then spray again. by the time you get to it is usually just pulls right off the wall.

to remove the leftover glue from the walls I just spray the wall again and then give it a scrape with a wide putty knife. after that a wet rag gets the residue. I feel using the garden sprayer gives full control of how much water you are putting on the wall.

mcg
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:29 pm

Re: So I did something rash...

Post by mcg »

we are in the same boat. removing wallpaper from one of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor (also our 1st attempt at removing wallpaper). what a nightmare. we finally got the paper off, but about 98% of the walls were still covered in the glue adhesive. we just score it, wet it with a sponge and warm water, and scrape with a putty knife. very very slow going, and since i don't have any patience for such things, my girlfriend has banned me from working on it anymore and is working it a little bit each day :lol:

nezwick
Posts: 331
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:45 pm
Location: Corsica, PA

Re: So I did something rash...

Post by nezwick »

So I've made some progress here. But it's not all good news. Three of the four walls are in very bad shape and now I'm stuck at a crossroads.

1. Figure out how to make plaster, patch all the holes, then skim coat everything.
2. Knock it all down (leaving the laths), pull the casings/baseboards, put up 1/4" drywall and finish that.

This room is only 5' x 5.5' so neither option is impossible.

The problem here is that the plaster was only applied about 1/8" thick in some places - and it only seems to be as thick as 1/4" in others. This is in the addition (the plaster in the old part of the house is almost 3/4 thick in some places).

I'm afraid that if I choose to leave the crumbly old plaster there, it will continue to fall apart and will start to fall down on its own in a couple of years (especially with the weight of the skim coat hanging off of it). On the other hand, I hate to lose historic elements of the house.

So what's everybody's advice - has anybody run into the same predicament? These walls are pretty much junk, which is why they were covered with wallpaper in the first place I guess.

Here are some pics to support my claims:

This pic shows some old water damage - notice the large bulge in the plaster where it has pulled off of the lath.
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By the way, the white spots remaining on the walls are either places where the wallpaper had previously been missing and the bare plaster was painted white.
The McCullough/Simkins house, built 1872-1877:
Progress thread on Old House Web

SkipW
Posts: 571
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:25 am
Location: Midcoast Maine

Re: So I did something rash...

Post by SkipW »

While plaster enthusiasts my balk at the idea, I think your thought of removing the existing bad plaster and sheetrocking the area is a good one.

The time and effort to remove the plaster and sheetrock the area will probably be less than patching the plaster, with more certain results.

My only concern would be installing drywall over the lath unless you are certain you have a way to fasten all to the studs and the lath will not keep you from getting the drywall (1/4 is very bendy) smooth and straight.

Otherwise, you might think of removing the lath also and going with 1/2 or 5/8 sheetrock.

Good luck and let us know!
Image

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you are right. - - - Henry Ford

nezwick
Posts: 331
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:45 pm
Location: Corsica, PA

Re: So I did something rash...

Post by nezwick »

SkipW wrote:My only concern would be installing drywall over the lath unless you are certain you have a way to fasten all to the studs
No studs - just 2 layers of vertical wood planks directly behind the lath (there seems to be about a 1/2" gap between the lath and the planks). So securing the new sheetrock to structural support will not be an issue whatsoever.
and the lath will not keep you from getting the drywall (1/4 is very bendy) smooth and straight.
This is definitely a concern, however there are no other smooth/straight/level/square/plumb surfaces in this entire house, so a bit of imperfection is perfectly acceptable to me.

I'm starting to lean toward the sheetrock idea too, because I don't want this stuff continuing to fall apart. It was obviously a poorly/cheaply done plaster job from the beginning - finally something I can blame the builder for and not the most recent PO.
The McCullough/Simkins house, built 1872-1877:
Progress thread on Old House Web

CivilWarHome
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Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 12:28 pm
Location: Macon Missouri
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Re: So I did something rash...

Post by CivilWarHome »

I don't think that your builder did a poor/cheap job, but that plaster needs repairs just like any other material after time. When we started taking our wallpaper off, my Dad said that it was probably the only thing holding our walls together, and he was right about some rooms! :lol:

We have found through wall paper removal that not all of our walls are plaster anymore. Knowing that, we decided small/med areas will be done with plaster, any large job (such as a ceiling) we will consider drywall. (with the lath)
Brandy
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Macon, Mo

Texas_Ranger
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Re: So I did something rash...

Post by Texas_Ranger »

You could also replaster... of course more work than drywall, but IMO very rewarding and such a small space would be good to practice on. IMO it should be possible to do a classic 3 coat job in such a room on 3 days with some time left on each day. There are plenty of tutorial videos on Youtube.

Additional tip: after the scratch coat is on I'd carefully screw guides (boards the desired thickness of the base coat) to the lath, using wooden wedges to get the guides as plumb and straight as possible. Then either apply a narrow strip of base coat next to the guides and screed it by "sawing" off any protruding plaster running a long board along the guides, then let the plaster strips harden enough, remove the guides and plaster the whole wall or plaster the whole wall, remove the guides and fill in the viods left by the boards. Old world professionals do the guides using just a long (2m or roughly 7') level but I think for a beginner using wooden guides is much easier (that's what I used on all my plaster jobs).

If there are any plastering professionals reading this thread: is there any reason why US plasterers mix on a board rather than in a trough? Mixing in a trough using a paddle drill attachment seems much easier and that's how it's done in Europe (and wood or steel troughs have been used for centuries, probably since the middle ages). For large amounts of lime or lime-cement plaster they use drum mixers here, but gypsum plaster is commonly mixed in a big bucket or trough.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

http://whatapigsty.blogspot.com

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