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Old 03-12-2010, 01:18 AM   #1
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


Let me preface this by saying I am novice at best... most of you have forgotten more than I will ever know. So with that said, please excuse my ignorance.

I am in the midst of replacing a pull chain fixture in a closet with a decorative fixture and tying in a switch. I did this in one bedroom no problem. I moved on to the second, and in in the process of creating a hole for the gang box I demoed about 3 square inches too much to the lower left side (truth be told, I used a sawzall instead of a keyhole and paid the price) .

My home is pre-1930's and the walls are plaster and lathe. My question is what is the proper technique and recommended product for doing this patch (I plan on running the 14 gauge and and setting the box and then patching)

Will mesh, fill, mesh, skim and wet finish do the trick?

Any tips for mixing plaster...

I am completely new to this and would love any suggestions.

Thanks.

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Old 03-12-2010, 04:50 AM   #2
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


I like patching plaster with plaster but you could also use dry mix drywall compound if this is just a closet. Get the 20 minute stuff as the 5 minute sets up a bit fast for a novice. Make sure you have a nice wide drywall knife.

If you only have 3 square inches to fix I would buy one of the patch kits at the paint store. Cut and stick it in place and go after it with the compound. One coat over the patch and then skim coat and feather it out.

You could also try mesh tape sort of pushed in the hole as a support for plaster patch if you want to go that way.

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Old 03-12-2010, 07:08 AM   #3
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


I second that method--Mike--
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:56 AM   #4
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


I'd opt to suggest that a novice use the 45 minute drymix- over the 20 minute.

What happens is that the novice ends up mixing and playing around with the product too long - before actually trying to use it. When using it, they end up taking longer to get comfortable and also spend more time applying it.

The 20 sets up fast. The 45 will give them a little more time to mix, and get handy using it, applying, and getting it the way they want to.
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:09 AM   #5
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
I like patching plaster with plaster but you could also use dry mix drywall compound if this is just a closet. Get the 20 minute stuff as the 5 minute sets up a bit fast for a novice. Make sure you have a nice wide drywall knife.

If you only have 3 square inches to fix I would buy one of the patch kits at the paint store. Cut and stick it in place and go after it with the compound. One coat over the patch and then skim coat and feather it out.

You could also try mesh tape sort of pushed in the hole as a support for plaster patch if you want to go that way.
I would prefer to get comfortable working with plaster as opposed to drywall, if only because this is the first to what I hope will be many successful home improvements... and the whole house is plaster so I need to get comfortable at some point. To be honest, I couldnt think of a better place for trial and error than a small patch job in an interior wall of a closet.

For the mesh tape... there is exposed lathe, that should provide the support for tape, right? Should I taper the tape to fit the hole perfectly... or would I want have it extend out of the hole a bit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlanticWBConst. View Post
I'd opt to suggest that a novice use the 45 minute drymix- over the 20 minute.

What happens is that the novice ends up mixing and playing around with the product too long - before actually trying to use it. When using it, they end up taking longer to get comfortable and also spend more time applying it.

The 20 sets up fast. The 45 will give them a little more time to mix, and get handy using it, applying, and getting it the way they want to.

I am the definition of the novice. So perhaps the 45 minute would be better. What is the actually wait time before coats and finishing.

How difficult is mixing plaster... and where would you suggest obtaining some (I assume home depot would not carry some of the suggested brands I have been reading about)?

Thank you... you already have helped a ton!
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Old 03-12-2010, 10:32 AM   #6
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


If you didn't damage the lathe you should be able to build up a plaster patch without additional tape support. Just do it in batches and not all at once. Note the drawback to working with plaster or even dry mud is that it is harder to sand if needed so you will want to practice and perfect your skills with a blade or whatever you use as best you can.

No trick to mixing small batches of plaster like you will need. There is not real way to tell you how to do it. You just need to play with the mix until you get it to a consistency that works for the project.

Invest in at least good drywall pan and a long blade to fit it for small repairs. I have a plastic drywall knife thing that is worthless for most anything else but is great for mixing little batches of plaster or drywall compound. If you ever have to mix a lot of either a paddle and a decent and substantial 3/8 or 1/2 corded drill will come in handy (or have lots of charged batteries on hand). Be prepared to toss the mixed stuff when it starts setting up on you.

You should have a fair amount of working time with patching plaster and as mentioned I like using plaster for at least the structural part of plaster repairs because it responds to temp and humidity changes like the original material. I have been known to prime over plaster and cheat with drywall compound for a skim coat because it is a bit easier to work with and surface.

The suggested times for drywall compound are just that and the curing of the material starts the minute the powder so much as sniffs moisture. It is wonderful for certain things but you really have to work fast with the 5 minute stuff for example.

Dry/hot mud comes timed from 5 minutes all the way to 120 as I remember although I have never known anybody to use the really slow stuff. Might as well use the premix if you can wait that long? You will get better at knowing how to mix and work with it or plaster with practice. The good news is it is not particularly expensive.

As for actual drying times? I think you will find that they are pretty close to the time on the bag unless the walls are really moist or cold, it is really humid in the space you are working or you try to lay in too heavy a patch at once.

I don't shop in box stores unless I absolutely have to which is about every 3-4 years. Your paint store should have patching plaster. Of the horrid home improvement places, I have found Menard's to have the best selection when it comes to plasters and drywall compounds in decent sized bags for the money.

You might also invest in some relatively airtight plastic tubs or cans to put the plaster or drywall mix in if you are going to store it for awhile. It does have a shelf life of sorts--especially if you store it in a basement or garage--after which you should probably toss it out.

Have fun with it. Do not panic. We were all novices at this once too! Do get good tools though. Doing so will speed your learning curve and you will have them for a long time.
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Old 03-12-2010, 12:34 PM   #7
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
If you didn't damage the lathe you should be able to build up a plaster patch without additional tape support. Just do it in batches and not all at once. Note the drawback to working with plaster or even dry mud is that it is harder to sand if needed so you will want to practice and perfect your skills with a blade or whatever you use as best you can.

No trick to mixing small batches of plaster like you will need. There is not real way to tell you how to do it. You just need to play with the mix until you get it to a consistency that works for the project.

Invest in at least good drywall pan and a long blade to fit it for small repairs. I have a plastic drywall knife thing that is worthless for most anything else but is great for mixing little batches of plaster or drywall compound. If you ever have to mix a lot of either a paddle and a decent and substantial 3/8 or 1/2 corded drill will come in handy (or have lots of charged batteries on hand). Be prepared to toss the mixed stuff when it starts setting up on you.

You should have a fair amount of working time with patching plaster and as mentioned I like using plaster for at least the structural part of plaster repairs because it responds to temp and humidity changes like the original material. I have been known to prime over plaster and cheat with drywall compound for a skim coat because it is a bit easier to work with and surface.

The suggested times for drywall compound are just that and the curing of the material starts the minute the powder so much as sniffs moisture. It is wonderful for certain things but you really have to work fast with the 5 minute stuff for example.

Dry/hot mud comes timed from 5 minutes all the way to 120 as I remember although I have never known anybody to use the really slow stuff. Might as well use the premix if you can wait that long? You will get better at knowing how to mix and work with it or plaster with practice. The good news is it is not particularly expensive.

As for actual drying times? I think you will find that they are pretty close to the time on the bag unless the walls are really moist or cold, it is really humid in the space you are working or you try to lay in too heavy a patch at once.

I don't shop in box stores unless I absolutely have to which is about every 3-4 years. Your paint store should have patching plaster. Of the horrid home improvement places, I have found Menard's to have the best selection when it comes to plasters and drywall compounds in decent sized bags for the money.

You might also invest in some relatively airtight plastic tubs or cans to put the plaster or drywall mix in if you are going to store it for awhile. It does have a shelf life of sorts--especially if you store it in a basement or garage--after which you should probably toss it out.

Have fun with it. Do not panic. We were all novices at this once too! Do get good tools though. Doing so will speed your learning curve and you will have them for a long time.
Thank you very much... that was very much the kind of information I need.
I will post back the results.
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Old 03-18-2010, 01:06 AM   #8
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


I just want to say thanks for the guidance. I opted to use a 20 min mud, got a solid mud-pan and a couple of sized tapers... and went to work. I think the 20 minute was perfect for my particular application (small patchwork). Though it sets up quickly, it still gives enough time for the novice to get the texture just right. I played with a couple of very small batches just to get a feel for it... and then just went to town. Did a solid fill... leaving a slight dimple. Went over that and tapered out. Then let it set for 24 hours and went with a skim coat. I was pleased with the results.

Thanks again.
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:29 PM   #9
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


Feather with a wet paint brush.

I do a lot of restoration work on plaster walls (using traditional lime plaster)
Best way is with a wet paint brush. Never need to sand anything ever! It's great.
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Old 03-19-2010, 02:12 PM   #10
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Extreme novice warning: Plaster tips needed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Skuce View Post
Feather with a wet paint brush.

I do a lot of restoration work on plaster walls (using traditional lime plaster)
Best way is with a wet paint brush. Never need to sand anything ever! It's great.
very interesting tip!

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