Replacing Lathe and Plaster with sheetrock

solipsistApril 26, 2005

On the 1930's Cape house we are considering buying, there is a section of the ceiling in the second story hall way that leaked and stained. The previous owner replaced the roof and fixed the leak, but left the stain in the ceiling. How do we go about repairing this? Can we repair the plaster, or can we take out the lathe and plaster and put in sheetrock just in that section instead? If so, how do we do it?


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If the plaster is just discolored why not just paint over it with something like Kilz and then repaint?
Removing the old ceiling are very hard! Trust me, I just had to take one down last year due to a plumbing problem

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 8:26AM
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Please don't casually pull your plaster and replace it with sheetrock. Plaster is the nicest interior finish and *very* expensive to replace. Consider it one of the little luxuries that old house owners get in return for the fuss and bother of owning older buildings.

To make a highly satisfactory cosmetic repair over the stain, you can coat it with a stain blocking paint (KilZ is one, so is BIN). You can get these at any paint store.

If the leak has lead to a looseness in the plaster, it can be successfully reattached using plaster washers. These are a little harder to find, but not rare and certainly installable by a home owner.

If the leak has resulted in a loss of plaster (exposing lath behind) that can also be fixed. A temporary fix is a patch made from a couple of layers of sheetrock and joint compound. A better, and more permanent, repair would be to have a plasterer come (or you could do it, but it takes a little practice) and make a plaster patch. This will not be anywhere near as expensive as pulling the ceiling and hanging sheetrock. And you will still have your plaster which is a wonderful thing to own.

Since you are giving so much thought to this potential purchase, I am going add a link to a series of publications put out by the National Park Service that cover a wide range of old-house care and repair issues. There are also excellent books on the care of older buildings, but these have the advantage of being free expert advice, available at all hours of the day. The bulletins cover repairs suitable for buildings ranging from ordinary homes to museum restorations, so the info is very detailed. Pick what level is appropriate for you. The techniques and skills described are easy to understand. I've tackled more than one project with just the instructions in the bulletins to go by. And if you follow their recommendatins, you can also be confident you are treating your old house correctly according to the most widely accepted standards of care.

Prospective buyers of old houses are often regaled with tales of other people's "money-pits". If you heart is moved by an older building do not let that dissuade you. Even houses only a few years old begin to need maintenance and repair. The advantage of older houses is that often the orginal materials are much better quality and also often the materials were designed to be continuously repaired as opposed to tossed out and replaced.

The main things to check out before you buy an older building (if you plan to live in it right away) are whether the mechanicals (light, heat, water) and the roof are in satisfactory working condition. Structural issues also preoccupy prospective buyers. These can be checked by an engineering inspection, if you are worried.

The link below takes you directly to the brief that covers plaster. If you scroll down, you'll be able to link to the full menu of briefs which have info on everything under the old-house roof (including the roof and chimney pots). Since you asked about windows in another post, be sure to check out the brief devoted to window repair, as well.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Preservation brief on plaster care and repair

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 11:51AM
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replacing plaster is a messy task.... just did it in my 1930s cape. most all of the downstairs. The house had a structural issue and ended up cracking all the plaster in many places.

Plaster is a better product than Drywall... however.... 75 year old plaster is very brittle in some cases and sometimes not worth keeping.

I am putting up new drywall and am happy with it. depending on whether you're sure that you're not growing mold behind the plaster, you can prime heavily and paint over the section.

you probably won't be happy ripping out one small section of plaster and replace with drywall... its kinda an all or nothing thing, you'll crack the good stuff removing the bad. my vote would be repair what is there if it is in good shape.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 4:18PM
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I have some plaster/lathe walls that need significant work. Everyone seems to suggest using blueboard with plaster skim coat instead of patching the existing walls, but I am skeptical that it will be the same.

Also, the current finish is rough, whereas new plaster tends to be smooth. Am I too picky?

One benefit is that new plaster should hold paint much better. Mine tends to peel after a few years.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 11:28PM
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Your peeling paint problem (assuming it's not a prep defect or bad paint) is probably a moisture problem that might re-occur no matter what substrate you use.

If you have highly textured plaster would be agood idea to look for quotes from plasteres who could match it. PLastering is expensive, but not always prohibitively so. Too many people seem to assume that's the case and never really check into it, especially when you're talking repairs not doing a whole house.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 3:25PM
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I do have some moisture problems (roof, another headache), but I'm told that calcimine finish might be the reason that paint doesn't stick well. I also get cracks revisiting a few years after painting.

The plaster is not really textured. I guess it's just an old paint finish that makes it not smooth.

Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 11:22PM
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i have a bedroom up stairs that the floor is squeaking and saging .. u can see down staris in my living room where the ceiling is droping.. what all is involved in fixing this??

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 4:26PM
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My house is 91 years old. My L/R ceiling is drooping and seperating very bad. It looks like a gramcracker ceiling. What is the best way to repair/replace this?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 1:43PM
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