plaster vs. drywall

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

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Don M
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Post by Don M »

Hi SiouxCItySioux,
With regard to vapor barrier; unless you maintain fairly high humidity in your house during the winter I imagine the vapor isn't particularly of concern in a plaster walled house. My house is solid plaster on solid exterior stone walls. They tell you to use a plant mister on plaster walls when making plaster repairs because the plaster is so dry it tends to suck the water out of the new plaster before it properly cures. If so then a little moisture or humidity will probably be absorbed by the plater before it ever penetrates through and into the wall cavity! My plaster house is extremely quiet inside because the plaster absorbs sound too. I darn sure would not pull down plaster unless it is non-salvagable. I have hairline cracks here & there on the 2nd floor which is original to the house (160 yrs old) the first floor was apparently replastered during a major renovation in the mid-60s and is in nearly perfect condition. My 2 cents. Don

SiouxCItySioux
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Post by SiouxCItySioux »

hi don m,

no, we don't run any humidifiers in our house. i believe the most humidity is probably generated in the kitchen and bathroom. those rooms seem to have the most damage to the original plaster, due to various remuddle jobs in the past, so i know those plaster walls will most likely have to be removed when the time comes to restore them. it's probably best to go with drywall and a true vapor barrier in these rooms anyway.

one thing i worry about, if i were to remove the plaster, is whether the window, door, and baseboards will all be able to be re-installed correctly (when we do a room, we strip it all down to the bare plaster, i.e., all of the woodwork comes down). these were cut to fit the plaster walls. if the drywall isn't thick enough or too thick, then the trim pieces could come up too tight or too short. too short being the real problem.

Don M
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Post by Don M »

Hi Sioux,
Yes the wood trim is a concern & possible problem. I encountered that in a previous house and we had to shim out the frames so the trim could be reinstalled properly. It darn sure looks bad if the sheetrock is installed over the old plaster and changes the reveal on the wood trim. Your thought of removing the plaster in the kitchen and baths is worthwhile for a number of reasons including replumbing and rewiring inaddition to reinsulating and vapor barrier! Don

catya

Post by catya »

Instead of removing the trim, maybe you could think in terms of "extensive or large drywall patches" instead of competely replacing ALL plaster w/ drywall. I have a couple of walls where I've taken that approach--plaster was so bowed out and loose we tore it out, except left in a 3 or 4 inch border of plaster which went under the baseboard and trim around the door. Then attached the drywall (approx. same thickness or slightly less as the plaster) then filled in gaps with 1st the bonding agent, and then the plaster, sanding it smooth to be flush w/ surrounding areas, and then skim coat of drywall mud over everything. Now, in looking at it, youcan't tell at all where the patch is Well, maybe if you looked really hard.

What little plaster that's left isn't going to go anywhere because its held down by the wood trim overlapping it, and its also adhered to the new plaster which holds it in place.

Does that make sense? Never quite sure I'm conveying what I intend to say!

You see that was my concern too -- putting it all back together again could be a nightmare. Whatever you do, please DONT just screw in drywall over old plaster! That is a true horror in my book (unless its a ceiling or wall without door or window trim)--

Dave
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Post by Dave »

The reveal distance of the woodwork trim requires attention but it is not a showstopper. It may be necessary to fur the studs out a bit to match the thickness of the old plaster. In my house, I removed some of the woodwork trim to find it was not convienient. Also, old trim can be very brittle, mine was, and now I'm not removing it at all. The plaster in my house was 3/4 of an inch thick. I'm currently furring the studs out a quarter inch and installing half inch drywall, but for future rooms I may seek out 3/4" drywall and not have to fur anything. I leave the trim on the walls, it's too fragile to remove and I know it will never go back on just right. See the pics of furring and trim in place in the two latest entries in my weblog, link below.

Dave

SneezyDec
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 4:54 pm
Location: Boston MA area

Post by SneezyDec »

Sioux-

I went to a specialty store to get paster materials, but then I saw it that I could buy it at Lowes - they have a different brand, I think, but its the same stuff. Either way, its not that expensive to buy supplies. I got directions to do it from an online pdf someone suggested: http://www.worleyplace.com/plasterrepair.com

If you are going to try your hand at this, get a couple different trowel sizes, a cement mixing bin, lots of plastic gloves (I use my hands to put the first coat on), and practice in a smallish area before taking on a whole wall. Expect it to be messay at first. And the consistency of the mixes should be like softened soft serve ice cream.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

-Sneezy

SiouxCItySioux
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Post by SiouxCItySioux »

catya,

i have employed the method that you describe on several occasions, especially where there was bad water damage. in these areas, the lath was so completely rotted out that i had to replace all of that as well. i then cut pieces of 1/4" drywall to fit the holes, and mudded it over to bring it all up to the correct thickness. here's a link to an older version of our website with some pics of that project: http://users2.ev1.net/~flaxx/house/html ... sterbr.htm

i also did this in the dining room (i don't have the pics of this up on our new website yet) where i had to remove a section of plaster in order to move the exposed pipes into the wall. you are correct, you can't even tell where the drywall meets the plaster, unless you tap on the wall and listen for the difference in sound.

don't worry. believe me, i would NEVER just put drywall over the plaster in any situation. the previous owners did this in the upstairs bathroom, but they used 2x4s layed on their side as furring strips. so, the room has been reduced by about 2 inces all the way around. the reason they did it is because they had the room wired with external wiring in metal tubing. they just covered it all up then with the drywall. i'm sort of glad they did this because they didn't totally wreck the walls running the new wiring.

dave,

we have been removing all the trim work because it seems easier to strip down and refinish. it's pretty ornate and it's tough to get it completely clean unless we remove it. we tried stripping it in place, but it just didn't work. we have completed one room using this method and i was worried about the woodwork not going back properly, but it all seemed to go back without any issues. we just made sure we marked where everything came from as we removed it. here's a link to our old website that shows this project: http://users2.ev1.net/~flaxx/house/html ... or_gbr.htm . you can see in some of the pics that it was just impossible to get the paint out of the joints while it was still in place.

sneezydec,

thanks for the info! i'll have to check at lowe's again. they just recently opened a store here and shortly after they did, i had gone there looking for metal lath mesh, and they had told me that they were still in the process of getting the "regional" product needs sorted out. so, hopefully, they have started carrying it by now. most of the repairs i would be doing this with would be water damaged holes, since we really don't have entire walls that would need to be replaced.

moonshadow317
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Post by moonshadow317 »

This discussion is a none issue for me as PO ripped out all plaster walls and sheetrocked :cry: . But for all those tiny hairline cracked plaster walls how about :

http://www.spec-chem.com/nuwal/index.htm

It sounds like a great idea! Has anyone had any experiance with nu wall?

Karen

Raisinette

Post by Raisinette »

moonshadow317 wrote:This discussion is a none issue for me as PO ripped out all plaster walls and sheetrocked :cry: . But for all those tiny hairline cracked plaster walls how about :

http://www.spec-chem.com/nuwal/index.htm

It sounds like a great idea! Has anyone had any experiance with nu wall?

Karen
No. But another board I used to read, even recently until it suddenly went "poof," had a lot of discussions on this, most particularly by a poster by the name of Sheldon Stroh, who seemed quite practiced and even brilliant. He advocated this product with no end of enthusiasm. It is the first thing I would look at were I undertaking plaster repair.

Greg
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Post by Greg »

I checked in to Nu-Wall after reading Sheldon's on going, glowing, and even religious like zeal for the product (At first I thought he owned the company). Anyway, it seemed like an expensive way to go just to cover a few small cracks. It is like putting up very costly and permanent fiberglass wallpaper in your whole house. I'm sure it will do the job if your walls are in really bad shape but I couldn’t justify the cost so I never really considered it.

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