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Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

Posted by aliciaandbilly (My Page) on
Wed, May 29, 13 at 10:53


We're currently doing a cosmetic renovation on 2 of our 3 bedrooms. Stripped all of the wood trim, took down wallpaper that had been painted over and are almost ready to have the professionals come in to skim-coat the walls and ceilings.

Both bedrooms have some minor (old) water damage (discoloration and some peeling paint, but plaster seems to still be fine), the room where the wallpaper was taken down now has a wall and a half of bare unpainted plaster and the other room has sand textured paint on the ceiling. This is of course in addition to various settling cracks which don't seem to have worsened since we bought the house 3 1/2 years ago.

We've received 3 quotes from reputable companies, but since each proposal's procedure seems to vary slightly, I'm curious to get someone else's take on what is or isn't necessary.

Here are the proposals:

Apply mesh tape to entire wall and ceiling areas
3 coats of compound with sanding in between
After 3rd coat sanding with 300w light to ensure smooth surface

Remove any water damaged plaster and loose plaster.
Apply a slow drying oil primer
Apply a paper tape (not fiberglass) over all cracks and corners.
Apply a 50-50 mix of slow setting gauging plaster and USG all purpose compound (not lightweight compound )
When above coat is dry apply a skim coat of compound leaving ready for painting.

Install 36 inch mesh screening over entire surface of ceilings and walls and coat surfaces with plaster
bonding liquid.
Apply two applications of Durabond 45 compond.
Sand surfaces to a smooth finish and apply one coat oil based primer to make surfaces ready for
finish paints.

Seems like only Proposal #1 includes 3 coats and #2 is skipping the mesh tape? Since some walls are bare plaster, should it be primed before putting up the mesh, or would the bondling liquid in #3 suffice?

What sort of prep if any should be done to remove loose paint, dig out cracks, etc if mesh is being used?

We're currently leaning towards #3, whom we've worked with before, so before going back to them, just wanting to make sure they're not skipping any steps or if there's anything else we should ask them to include/specify.

Just trying to find a way to compare apples to apples when it comes to the pricing, so advice from those who have done this process would be greatly appreciated!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

i'd be curious what the quotes are.

i'd rate my preferences as #2, #3, #1.

i don't think mesh screening of the whole wall is necessary at all.

RE: Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

We're in the NYC metro area and I'm sure the prices we were quoted reflect that, so suffice it to say that your preference order matches the cost from most to least expensive. As a side note, #2 came from a website, not personally recommended by a trusted friend, and also told me over the phone that he'd do it for less than 1/2 the quoted cost if we did it off the books. Given that I had just met him, I wasn't too keen on the idea of doing anything w/out a written contract, so we kind of crossed him off of our list. What was it about his proposal that you liked - skipping the mesh, removal of the damaged plaster?

And if the mesh is not necessary in this scenario, when is it? I thought the purpose of it was to help prevent old cracks from reappearing.

This post was edited by aliciaandbilly on Wed, May 29, 13 at 11:10

RE: Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

Properly repaired, old settling cracks needn't come back. Spot repairing a limited number of cracks would be more economic than meshing the whole wall. Of course, this is all a blind guess on my part. Nevertheless, if you have been satisfied with #3s previous work, that would be the most important consideration for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Old House Journal on Plaster Repairs

RE: Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

The only one I would consider is #3; it most closely resembles the way we have been repairing plaster since 1996.
The one divergence is that Durabond is better IMO for spot repairs; if skimming the entire walls, we'd have white coat (Lime + gauging) for a smooth sanding-free finish. That has to be applied by a real plasterer, whom we hire. The bonding agent and heavy-gauge mesh tape in wide rolls is excellent for fixing places like ceilings with widespread cracking.

RE: Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

Thank you all so much for your advice and glad to hear Casey that #3's process is very similar to what you've had done. I'll ask them if they've ever worked with the white coat instead of the Durabond. They're a paint company, but given that most homes in the area were built in the 20's they're well versed in working with plaster. I was actually surprised by how hard it was for me to even find someone who just did plaster. #2 was the only one I found, and he largely seems to work on buildings of historical significance - slight overkill for our modest Dutch Colonial Revival!!

RE: Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

I would be more interested in the one that wants to use plaster instead of joint compound. I wouldn't want to have to sand to get a smooth finish; too much labor and mess.

RE: Help translating plaster skim-coat proposals?

That would be #2. Back when I did renos I had an English -trained plasterer repairing old homes and touching up new ones who would use various mixes including, I think, Durabond. He'd do a sweep or two with the largest knife and even a large patch was paint-ready.

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