Plaster Repair and Wall Gap

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Plaster Repair and Wall Gap

Postby Cragin on Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:16 pm

We were looking to do a simple paint/repair of the walls in the kitchen of our 1924 Chicago Bungalow after taking down the 70's-era faux wood paneling and wall paper. However, when I pulled off the paneling, I saw this:

This brought up 3 questions:

1. Is it normal to have such a large gap between the paneling and the floor?
2. Is there any way of repairing the plaster that's so badly cracked and crumbling?
3. What's with all the sawdust? Is this just for insulation?
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Re: Plaster Repair and Wall Gap

Postby moonshadow317 on Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:00 pm

How high is the gap from the floor to the paint line? It looks to me like you had some nice baseboard molding there. They probably ripped it off to put up thier lovely paneling. It shouldn't be too hard to recreate it with 1X6's Or 1X10's and something over the top.

Kinda like this:


Don't know what the sawdust is. It might just be that the old lathe behind the paneling got wet and rotted away, or dry rot. Sweep it up and investigate.
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Re: Plaster Repair and Wall Gap

Postby plastrr385 on Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:57 am

Its easy to repair. Pull off old broken plaster, bond the lath and edge of the old plaster,mix up some structo lite plaster and pack it on and smooth it out with the edge of your trowel when it sets up apply finish. Hope this helps any questions just ask.
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Re: Plaster Repair and Wall Gap

Postby Cragin on Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:02 pm

Thanks for the responses. Yeah, you guys were faster to the idea of the baseboards than I was. Just thought of that this morning. Rest of the house has 10" baseboards (with molding), and you can see the layers of paint.

With regard to the sawdust, I did find a few sites that referenced sawdust as insulation in the early 1900's (and it's apparent once again en vogue with new "green" builders). I vacuumed up a section of sawdust and saw no rot, so I'm hoping that's the reason for it.

Am I kidding myself?

As far as the patch job, do I have to chisel out the pieces before I patch? If I have to go so far as to chisel it out, seems like it'd be better to leave it in. It's the original horsehair plaster in there.
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Re: Plaster Repair and Wall Gap

Postby Sombreuil_Mongrel on Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:39 pm

Yes the sawdust is some kind of blown-in insulation. The 1x2 strip of wood was the "plaster ground", a guide put in place to assist the plasterer in applying a straight and uniform coating. And the paint line is where the baseboard used to be before the paneling was put in.
You could remove the 1x2 ground, put in one more strip of lath, and patch in the plaster, using the existing wall surface as the ground. That would seal off things perfectly and stop any drafts,& keep the sawdust at bay.
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Re: Plaster Repair and Wall Gap

Postby Leslie Ap on Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:41 am

Plastrr is the expert, of course, so I might be corrected here. I think you just have to break out the loose and crumbling plaster. If it's well adhered to the lath, you don't necessarily have to remove it. Just clean it up, then get to work with the replastering. I don't know why- maybe because of all the advice I read on this site- but I am finding plaster repair (in small patches) to be fairly straight forward.
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