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Old 03-20-2011, 07:20 AM   #1
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Repairing Holes and Cracks in Plaster


I have read books and googled online about plaster repair. Seems everyone has a different method and tools for the job. Some say use mesh tape. Others say drill holes beside each crack and then someone else says something different. I have a 100 year old house with all plaster walls and lots of cracks and some small holes. This Old House recommends using metal plugs. But I have too many cracks to be able to afford all these "extras."

Can anyone tell me what has worked for them?

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Old 03-20-2011, 11:50 AM   #2
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Repairing Holes and Cracks in Plaster


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Originally Posted by NewEnglandYank View Post
I have read books and googled online about plaster repair. Seems everyone has a different method and tools for the job. Some say use mesh tape. Others say drill holes beside each crack and then someone else says something different. I have a 100 year old house with all plaster walls and lots of cracks and some small holes. This Old House recommends using metal plugs. But I have too many cracks to be able to afford all these "extras."

Can anyone tell me what has worked for them?
I have repaired plaster problems on many rental properties where the landlord wanted to save a little money using this system...

The walls that have too many cracks it was easier to simply laminate over it with a layer of 1/4" sheetrock. I would locate every stud in the wall so I could screw to it through the plaster and use glue also. Simply finish it like a newly sheetrock wall...only along the wood molding I would first prefill any possible gaps right along the woodworking with a setting compound. Then I would lay flat-tape tight along the trim woodworking and coat.

This worked nice on the older homes with nice woodworking and thick molding because the 1/4" sheetrock would not protrude off the wall past the trim. Another plus was this helped preserve some of the nice woodworking.

The walls with much fewer cracks (in plaster) I would run a router bit right up it to open up the crack to make a gap and create a bevel. Then I squish into and fill the gap with a setting coupound. Then tape and coat accordingly.

Cracks that appear in the inside vertical and horizontal corners are easily fixed by simply running a bead of painters caulk right up it and wipe it out.

After the taping was done I would spraytexture the entire wall surface with a slightly heavier orange peel texture.

This worked on the many rental units I have restored for a major "slumlord"...LOL...but I must say the walls and ceilings looked nice and new!

What can change the restoration process on walls with few cracks is if there is a very coarse texture you have to work over....then you may consider putting a layer of 1/4" sheetrock over the walls in the room anyways.

Ceilings almost always are better to just put a new layer of 1/2" sheetrock right over the plaster and refinish. I would find the joists on each side of the room and snap a chaulkline across down each one. Then when installing use screws long enough to reach the joists and apply glue also.

1/2" is fine in this situation because you already have the fire rating and the glue keeps it secure.

Note: walls with many cracks it may be an option to mesh them all and skim coat it....depends on how course and what type of texture you are skimming over. Some of the older textures are so course it would take a lot of material....the type of texture would be a big deciding factor if skim coating is worth it...


Last edited by MnDrywallRanger; 03-20-2011 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 03-20-2011, 02:10 PM   #3
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Repairing Holes and Cracks in Plaster


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Originally Posted by MnDrywallRanger View Post
I have repaired plaster problems on many rental properties where the landlord wanted to save a little money using this system...

The walls that have too many cracks it was easier to simply laminate over it with a layer of 1/4" sheetrock. I would locate every stud in the wall so I could screw to it through the plaster and use glue also. Simply finish it like a newly sheetrock wall...only along the wood molding I would first prefill any possible gaps right along the woodworking with a setting compound. Then I would lay flat-tape tight along the trim woodworking and coat.

This worked nice on the older homes with nice woodworking and thick molding because the 1/4" sheetrock would not protrude off the wall past the trim. Another plus was this helped preserve some of the nice woodworking.

The walls with much fewer cracks (in plaster) I would run a router bit right up it to open up the crack to make a gap and create a bevel. Then I squish into and fill the gap with a setting coupound. Then tape and coat accordingly.

Cracks that appear in the inside vertical and horizontal corners are easily fixed by simply running a bead of painters caulk right up it and wipe it out.

After the taping was done I would spraytexture the entire wall surface with a slightly heavier orange peel texture.

This worked on the many rental units I have restored for a major "slumlord"...LOL...but I must say the walls and ceilings looked nice and new!

What can change the restoration process on walls with few cracks is if there is a very coarse texture you have to work over....then you may consider putting a layer of 1/4" sheetrock over the walls in the room anyways.

Ceilings almost always are better to just put a new layer of 1/2" sheetrock right over the plaster and refinish. I would find the joists on each side of the room and snap a chaulkline across down each one. Then when installing use screws long enough to reach the joists and apply glue also.

1/2" is fine in this situation because you already have the fire rating and the glue keeps it secure.

Note: walls with many cracks it may be an option to mesh them all and skim coat it....depends on how course and what type of texture you are skimming over. Some of the older textures are so course it would take a lot of material....the type of texture would be a big deciding factor if skim coating is worth it...

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Putting up sheetrock is not an option. I am restoring back to original as much as possible because this is an historical home.
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:32 PM   #4
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Repairing Holes and Cracks in Plaster


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Thanks for taking the time to reply. Putting up sheetrock is not an option. I am restoring back to original as much as possible because this is an historical home.
Another option I have seen done by some painters is to simply take a stout pointed tool of some type (phillips screwdriver may work) and scrape it right down the cracks to slighty create a groove to work with, then just run a bead of painters caulk down the crack and wipe it smooth with a stiff, damp sponge.


Perhaps this would be the route for you to go in this situation...many contractors won't go this route because there is still a visible line where the crack was.

Again, texture makes a major difference on how to fix it perfectly. If your walls are smooth with no texture then it would be much easier...good luck

Last edited by MnDrywallRanger; 03-20-2011 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:06 AM   #5
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Repairing Holes and Cracks in Plaster


Good luck! Plaster has a life of 50 to 60 years. If you have 100 years with yours you have an exceptional house. No matter what you do, the plaster will continue to deteriorate. You may make it look nice for a while but it will continue to crack and eventually fall off the wall and ceilings. The only options you have are to go over the top of it with drywall or tear it out and redo it with new plaster or drywall. Sorry.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:43 AM   #6
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Repairing Holes and Cracks in Plaster


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Good luck! Plaster has a life of 50 to 60 years. If you have 100 years with yours you have an exceptional house. No matter what you do, the plaster will continue to deteriorate. You may make it look nice for a while but it will continue to crack and eventually fall off the wall and ceilings. The only options you have are to go over the top of it with drywall or tear it out and redo it with new plaster or drywall. Sorry.
Drywall is not an option in this historic home. And yes it is exceptional. Stayed in the same family for generations. Every attempt will be made to restore it to the original as much as possible.

Thanks for all the replies. Really appreciate it.
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:35 PM   #7
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Repairing Holes and Cracks in Plaster


Enlarge the crack with an older v-type can opener, then fix. http://www.plaster-wall-ceiling-solu...wall-tape.html
Work your way around that site.The drill holes help stop the crack somewhat. Usually they are structural cracks rather than seasonal. Use a bonding agent on larger repairs.

Gary

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