Wavy walls/ horizontal plaster bulges

vonlakeAugust 20, 2014

Hi everyone,
First time homeowner here with a old victorian twin (semi- detached) built around 1902.
My walls are mostly plaster ( some were replaced with drywall before I bought the home). My issue is that a couple of the upstairs plaster walls are what I'd like to describe as "wavy". You can see the horizontal outline of the lath bulging out slightly. This is both the walls in the hallway, one of which I share with my neighbor. The plaster is not cracked at all but is just unsightly, especially when light is shined on it. I do have an attic directly above and those plaster walls do not have the same issue.
The walls have been the same since I bought the home a year ago so it's not a new issue.
I haven't been able to find much info on what could be causing this issue or how to fix it.
Any ideas? I'd prefer not to replace the plaster if I don't need to.

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Check out this discussion of plaster washers for the type of repair you need.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plaster washers

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 5:32AM
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i have really learned to love my plaster walls. it is a material unbelievably superior to drywall in terms of sound resistance, durability, and literally giving your house structure. it blows my mind that anyone would rip out plaster and replace it with drywall.

ranting aside (i know you didn't suggest such a thing!);
the trade-off is that the walls are rarely perfectly uniform and repairing them requires a fair amount of patience and knowledge of rarely used products.

youtube fortunately offers a wealth of information on using plaster washers or even injecting adhesive. people have come up with some pretty creative ways to deal with plaster.

these are projects and you should give yourself appropriate time and prepare your workspace accordingly. it would be easy to spend a couple weekends getting it right.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 8:46AM
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Picture, please?

There are two possibilities I can think of

1 - the original plastering job was done over not-straight wall and lath, and instead of taking the time to fill out the dips and wavers, they just plastered. The quality expected in an upstairs hall was not as high as that expected in the parlor.

2 - the lath has become detached from the walls in those spots, or plaster from some lath. Plaster washers and LONG screws

Be sure to check for wiring behind the lath ... there is a small inexpensive doo-dad that shrieks when it it near a live AC wire. Often called a "sniffer".

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:06AM
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Thank you everyone for the replies! I have attached a picture , which I took from my phone so I hope everyone can see it.

I've figured this wouldn't be a quick project however I do want to ( finally) paint my upstairs so I will have to get started soon. I'm quickly learning how long diy projects can take with the rest of life's obligations ( I've been refinishing my heart pine stairs for what seems like forever). This project will be next on the list.

Any additional info after seeing the pic is appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Check out the link I provided, if you haven't already.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:15PM
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Jmc01- I did, thanks for the link.. Looks like a good place to start.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:51PM
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It's an old house. Wavy plaster is part of the charm.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 10:42PM
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2-coat plaster sometimes telegraphs every lath behind it; as already stated, often the best 3-coat work was reserved for the front "company" rooms when money was tight.
If the striations are horizontal all up & own the wall(s)and tapping it does not sound too hollow (not loose/spongy IOW), I'd live with it unless you have a plasterer in the family.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:45PM
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