Horse hair plaster cracks

bknouseFebruary 19, 2006

Help! We are moving into an old farm house that has cracked horse hair plaster walls in the living room. What's the best way to patch these cracks? Upstairs the walls have been drywalled over, but I don't want to do that downstairs so any suggestions? I'm a beginner so take it slow on the instructions. Thanks!

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The fiorst thing to do is find out if the cracks move with the weather and seasons. If they do the repair methods are limited.
If the cracks do not move, they can be filled with setting type drywall compound like Easysand. Mix it about as thick as peanut butter and force it into the cracks using a 5 or 6 inch drywall knife.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 12:29PM
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The cracks don't move and they aren't very wide. Someone told me to use some type of mesh tape? and do the cracks like you would drywall tape between dry wall sheets. But as I've said I know nothing. Just patching the cracks sounds easier then dealing with tape and mudding over it. Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 1:28PM
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Try just mudding first.
Mesh tape and setting compound works well for wider cracks, but anything less than 1/4 inch will usually close up fine.
Do not bother trying regular joint compound. It shrinks and makes a mess of plaster walls.
So called 'patching plaster' is also not good for much of anything. It dies not have sufficient lime and retarders added to work very well.
Easysand90 is a setting type compound ( a modern version of plaster and lime) that set in about 90 minutes. If mixed thick it will have minimal shrinkage.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 2:11PM
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Thanks, I'm heading to HD tomorrow so I will get some Easysand90 and give it a try.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 7:26PM
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I've also heard but never tried to "v" out the crack with a sharp pointed object such as an old style can opener.Lightly scoring over the crack and removing any loose debris before filling. Brickeye-good idea/bad idea? Have you ever heard of this?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 10:03PM
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If you V a crack it is wider at the bottom than at the top. It is an attempt to make a key that will hold a patch.
It is really not required with Easysand or Durabond. They stick just fine to the old surface.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 7:45PM
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    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 8:06PM
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At HD they had no idea what Easysand was, so any idea where I get this stuff? Or is this Durabond stuff as good or more easily available? Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 9:44PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Go to your local paint store,Duron,Ben Moore,Sherwin Williams,etc.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 7:52AM
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HD usually has Easysand. It is in the aisle with the drywall joint compound in buckets.
Durabond is actually a beter material, but it is so hard it cannot be sanded. I would not recomend it for someone without a lot of experience.
Most paint stores also carry Easysand.
Get the Easysand90.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 8:28AM
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Your best bet is to remove the plaster and put up drywall

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 8:55AM
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wlg2_2, I think you've just uttered the dirtiest words in the "old house" language... :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 9:06AM
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I think brickeye would agree that even severely damaged plaster can be repaired....we're talking about minor cracking here. To suggest drywall ,ruining the integrity and originality of the plaster, is like suggesting an earl schieb paint job on a rolls royce!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 10:22AM
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Thanks for the info. I will check out the paint store. Replacing them is not an option, first of all I can't afford it, second the damage is SO minimal. My sister has bigger cracks in her dry wall then I have in my plaster.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 1:20PM
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There is almost never a good reason to remove paster unless it is truly falling down under its own weight.
To replace a 2 coat plaster wall is not cheap.
Veneer plaster has hardly bettter sound qualities than drywall.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been called after plaster came down, drywall went up and the owner wants to know why the house is so noisy.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 8:44PM
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There was a great coverage by Tom on how to repair holes in plaster walls on Ask this Old House this past weekend. The hole was patched with two layers of drywall (to make up the thickness of the total plaster), then veneer plaster spread over drywall and finished smooth.

I was interested in the whole thing as I am busting holes to gain access to knee wall crawl spaces and will have to patch those, but I was particularly interested in the finishing technique as I also have many hairline cracks in the plaster which I want to skim coat over with veneer plaster.

I don't know if the website for ATOH has details of the features of each episode.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 10:45PM
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I have horse hair plaster that is finished with an "orange peal" texture. I need to make repairs and want to know how to recreate the "orange peal" texture?????

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 10:06AM
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I haven't used Easysand or Durabond, but I've repaired cracks by using a tool to V out the crack and then filling it with plaster and sanding flat when dry. I was very happy with the results.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 10:28PM
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"...filling it with plaster and sanding flat when dry."

Plaster should actually never be sanded to make it smooth.
Sanding roughs up the surface compared to a correctly troweled finish.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 10:19AM
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Since there seems to be good answers received on the intitial question, how about a variation of a plaster problem?

We have a 1858 wood framed farmhouse with plastered walls. In one wall there is an old brick chimney that goes up inside the wall (it is a thick wall in this location). The plaster on each side of this chimney is applied right over the brick.

We have a problem with the brick in the chimney wicking up moisture at its foundation from the dirt in the crawl space which is transfered to the plaster. This causes the plaster to soften and sluff off with bubbled paint over it.

I have previously scraped the bad plaster off coated the brick with Thompsons Water Seal and then filled in the area with joint compound sanded and repainted. The problem returns.

Would there be another product or technique that we should use?

Thank you for you responses.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 1:25PM
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Get the moisture out of the crawl space.
With good drainage it rarely wicks more than about 12 inches.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 7:49PM
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We've had excellent results using a simple mix of 50% joint compound and 50% plaster of paris repairing settling cracks in our 1870's home. We have painted horsehair plaster walls, and blend the patch in by using a tad of joint compund mixed with the paint to recreate the multiple layers of rolled paint texture. Oftentimes, the patch disappears. Never sand it, apply it in multiple layers if necessary. A depression is OK pending another coat, a ridge is forbidden.

Sounds bizarre, but its worked excellent for us.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 10:07PM
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