need help interior walls of a house built in 1943

younggun87May 31, 2014

I'm trying to do a little remodeling of a small room at my mothers house but I'm having trouble with the walls. I'll try to make my explaination as quick and easy to understand as possible... The house was built in either 1943 or 1948 and most of the house has standard drywall and it's easy to simply put a nail or screw in the wall in order to hang anything you can think of, but the room she needs done the walls and ceiling are made of something else. I'm in no way, shape, or form an expert so I have no idea what it is. All I do know for sure is:

1. It crumbles into powder and small chunks very easily
2. It's impossible to put any kind of nail or screw in due to the fact that no matter what type of nail/screw I use or how I try to put it in the wall simply crumbles away.

I've put a picture of a small piece roughly the size of a half dollar to hopefully show what I'm talking about a little better than I can explain. If anyone has any clue of what this is and any advice on the best way to hang shelves, or anything at all really I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

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It appears to be gypsum plaster, which is applied over a substrait of some sort.

So, use a masonry drill and screw anchors.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 9:26PM
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I'll bet that substrate is "rock lath".

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Drywall wasn't extensively used until approx. sometime in the '50's. My former home, era 1920's, had the plaster in every room....

You'll want a cordless drill with bit slightly smaller than the nail you are going to use ..... pre-drilling a pilot hole.

If you're hanging something exceptionally heavy, you may need to let the studs in the wall behind the plaster dictate exactly where and nail or screw into the studs not lath/plaster. In an older home, those might be anywhere from 16 - 24 or so inches apart, so a stud finder may be your friend.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 2:02PM
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Rock lath, which is similar to drywall, was used as the 1st layer under the plaster in my 1940 house. The rock lathe is nailed on in sheets like drywall, but not taped. The outer paper on the rock lath is very absorbent so it absorbs moisture and bonds with the 2nd layer of rough brown coat plaster. Then they put on the final coat of finish plaster.

You will always need to drill through it for any fasteners, because driving a nail through the finish plaster coat will fracture it and it will come off in pieces and expose the browncoat. If you already have divots or cracks, but the rock lath layer is intact, you can buy dry plaster mix at Home Depot or Lowes and repair the divots you made. Just mix up small quantities and layer it on until you get the divot filled. Its relatively easy to sand if you get too much.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 8:55PM
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