"Matching" drywall to plaster?

kellelelyJuly 29, 2014

Hello - first time poster here. I figured it was time to join since all of my "How do I...?" searches ended up at threads at Garden Web!

We just purchased a 1943 bungalow in Portland OR, and are remodeling the bathroom before moving in. Since it's the only bathroom in the house, we needed to take over a small portion of an adjoining room to get enough square footage to make a workable layout for our family, which necessitated taking down a section of wall, which is plaster and lath.

Taking out that wall, and part of the adjoining walls where the shower tile is, has already started happening (I realized after the fact that I could have just taken the plaster off with the tiles, and left the lath to re-plaster?). But I don't need to tear out the rest of the walls - some holes will be made for a few electrical and plumbing tweaks, but that's all.

I know there's a lot of people who hate to see a perfectly good (and sturdy) plater and lath wall go - so my question is this: how can I "match" the drywall that will be going up in the demoed part to the plaster in the rest of the room so they look seamless? Any special techniques that I should study up on?

I'll admit I'm not crazy about the look of the plaster in this house - it has an orange-peel-ish texture to it (best way I can think to describe it). My last home was brick construction from 1900, which had plaster over the brick, but was smooth (albeit imperfect), which I liked much better. But I do realize that it's solid construction and there's no reason to take it out if it's not necessary.

I've attached a picture of the bathroom - basically the drywall will be on the right hand side, and the left hand side will remain the original plaster.

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In your case, what's under the finished part of the wall is irrelevant. You only have to match the new texture to the old texture. If it is an orange-peel texture, that should be easy to match as it is a spray on texture.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:43AM
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Thanks for the feedback, rmtdoug

So if I prefer the smooth finish of the drywall, that means I'll have to .... sand the plaster walls to smooth them out? (can I do that through coats of paint? total novice in the finishing plaster department)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:49AM
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I have no experience with lath and plaster other than ripping it out as I live in the NW, too, and not many people out here do plaster. Too many earthquakes. Generally speaking, if you want smooth walls all over, you would put another coat on the walls rather than sand them down. I would avoid sanding walls if at all possible. Too many toxics locked into paints and materials in these old houses.

Paint will not hide texture. It's too thin.

Have you tried scraping a small section of the old wall to get the texture off? If it does come off, you would only have to float some drywall mud on it to smooth it. Hopefully someone with plaster experience can be more helpful with this.

This post was edited by rmtdoug on Tue, Jul 29, 14 at 9:46

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 9:44AM
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The texture is usually some sort of water soluable joint compound (such as 'popcorn' ceilings). If you get if sufficiently wet, you can scrape it off.

However..... your bathroom looks like it has been painted with semigloss. Would be a lot harder to get water under that. Also, if the texture was applied a long time ago - it may be sturdier than plain old joint compound.

If I were you - I'd texture the new sheetrock - like the plaster wall. The room will have the same finish. I think you are making too much work for yourself in changing the plaster wall.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 10:40AM
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It's a lot easier and faster to texture the new stuff to match the old stuff, especially when old plaster is involved.

You may prefer the smooth new drywall, but how much time, expense and effort is it worth to you?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 1:11PM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback!

I do prefer the smooth look, but am not keen on the idea of sanding down or otherwise "smoothing" the plaster, because as some of you pointed out, it's an awful lot of effort for something that's fairly minor.

I will try to see if I can just scrape the textured layer off of the plaster. Otherwise I guess we'll have to texturize the drywall so it blends (since most of the new drywall will be covered in tile, it's not too much work to add the texture)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 4:05PM
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