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Old 10-12-2011, 01:57 AM   #1
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


Hi everyone, I hope you can help point me in the right direction(s). Please feel free to correct me if I use the wrong terminology, I am here to learn.

We bought a house built in 1958 that has all plaster returns instead of moulding. All the walls are white. We intend to add color to all the walls, different colors in different rooms. We agree that adding moulding would really modernize the look. How much trouble is this going to be? I'm a pretty handy fella but I have no experience in this area.

I don't think I'll have any trouble installing trim, my trouble is in the design aspect- I'm not sure of the proper way to go about this.

I have many specific questions, but let me start off with this one. We have what I would call an archway between the dining room and living room. These rooms will be different colors so I thought there should be white moulding around the archway to create a border of sorts. Should I line the inside edges of the archway with 1/2"x5.5" boards to create something like a door jamb and then add the case moulding around the edges?

I've attached a photo of what I'm calling the archway. Is it common to add moulding to these?

Thanks!
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:23 AM   #2
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


If the opening in the picture is the one you are referring to as an archway, that is incorrect, an archway has an arch. You can buy a knock down trim unit or you can buy a split jamb with trim already on it to install. What you have is a case opening. You can install the door casing without the jamb if you want to, then paint it like you would a wooden jamb.

If that is plaster it may be best to predrill where you place the nails as the plaster could easily crack and chip.

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Old 10-12-2011, 11:12 AM   #3
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


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Originally Posted by jiju1943 View Post
If the opening in the picture is the one you are referring to as an archway, that is incorrect, an archway has an arch. You can buy a knock down trim unit or you can buy a split jamb with trim already on it to install. What you have is a case opening. You can install the door casing without the jamb if you want to, then paint it like you would a wooden jamb.

If that is plaster it may be best to predrill where you place the nails as the plaster could easily crack and chip.
Thanks for writing. Is it common to add casing to an opening like this or am I off the mark here?

Another thing maybe you could corroborate- apparently we have plaster over plasterboard. I was told this was something they did after plaster/lath and before drywall that is sort of a hybrid between the two. I'm attaching a pic of a piece I cut out while installing a low voltage bracket. I'm guessing this is not as susceptible to cracking as plaster over lath?
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Old 10-12-2011, 01:11 PM   #4
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


Kinda hard to tell if that is regular sheetrock or not from the picture, but if it is the only thing you would have to worry about is the surface chipping as plaster is brittle. It wouldn't chip or crack as bad as regular plaster with the lath would though.
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:08 PM   #5
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


I'd install jambs in the opening and then the molding. I wouldn't install molding in an "unjambed" opening.
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:52 PM   #6
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


Quote:
Originally Posted by pick1e View Post
Thanks for writing. Is it common to add casing to an opening like this or am I off the mark here?

Another thing maybe you could corroborate- apparently we have plaster over plasterboard. I was told this was something they did after plaster/lath and before drywall that is sort of a hybrid between the two. I'm attaching a pic of a piece I cut out while installing a low voltage bracket. I'm guessing this is not as susceptible to cracking as plaster over lath?
My house (built in 1948) has the walls built the same way as yours. Plaster board replaced the wood lath that was used before.
The plaster board came in sheets 16"X48". Over this board two coats of plaster were applied.
Houses like this are much superior to those that have drywall. Sound is blocked and the house is quieter.
We only use drywall today because its so much cheaper.
My house has openings that are curved at the top. These are referred to as arches, even though they are not.
Uncased openings are quite common, the fact that they are not curved at the top, doesn't make them any different than arched ones.
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Old 10-12-2011, 10:43 PM   #7
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


Thanks everyone for all the tips. I'm finally pointed in the right direction now that I know the correct terminology (much better Google results).

So to make my jamb from scratch, I'm assuming I simply cut the top piece square, butted to the ends, and the vertical pieces cut square butted to the top piece. Correct me if I'm wrong there. I see jamb material available at 4.5" wide but mine will need to be 5.5". I'm also assuming I need 3/4" thickness in order to have some reveal and room to nail the molding.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:08 PM   #8
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


That is correct on the jamb. You will have to buy a 1X that is a little wider than what you need and rip it down to the size you need. Use to 1X6s would very from 5.25 - 5.5 inches but they are a little closer now to one width.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:24 PM   #9
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


Quote:
Originally Posted by pick1e View Post
Thanks everyone for all the tips. I'm finally pointed in the right direction now that I know the correct terminology (much better Google results).

So to make my jamb from scratch, I'm assuming I simply cut the top piece square, butted to the ends, and the vertical pieces cut square butted to the top piece. Correct me if I'm wrong there. I see jamb material available at 4.5" wide but mine will need to be 5.5". I'm also assuming I need 3/4" thickness in order to have some reveal and room to nail the molding.
When I make a jamb set, I cut a dado about a 1/2" from the top on both side pieces. The top piece is cut to fit into the two dado's. I glue and screw that top in and then lift the set into position. Then, I shim it all around and fasten the sides by nailing/ screwing into the wall. Allowing a 1/4" or so, space on each side allows for making the sides vertical.
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:36 AM   #10
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


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Originally Posted by Wildie View Post
When I make a jamb set, I cut a dado about a 1/2" from the top on both side pieces. The top piece is cut to fit into the two dado's. I glue and screw that top in and then lift the set into position. Then, I shim it all around and fasten the sides by nailing/ screwing into the wall. Allowing a 1/4" or so, space on each side allows for making the sides vertical.
I would use that process with a dado and all if I were making a jamb to hang a door, but in this case it's just for looks so I think I will just butt them and nail directly to the wall- as long as there isn't a serious bow or sag in the existing edges.
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Old 10-13-2011, 01:06 AM   #11
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


Here's my next question. I'm attaching a photo of the type of plaster returns I have. I'm wondering the best way to do moulding here. We do intend to replace the interior doors at some point. It seems to me like I could put up some moulding for now, butting it up to the edge of the return, then replacing it when we eventually do the doors. That's probably a year or two down the road.

But either way, for future reference I would love to know how these returns are constructed. I can see where some paint has chipped away that there is a metal strip on the inside edge where the jamb would normally be- kind of like a jamb extension I guess. I'm thinking that this must be an L shaped metal trim that is nailed to the jamb after the door was installed, then the plaster is used to fill in the remaining gap in the wall up to that metal trim?

My biggest concern I guess is how far that jamb is recessed into the wall... Is there any way to know other than start cutting... And will I be able to cut it out with a sawzall and roto-zip back to the rough opening without destroying the wall and needing major plaster repair in order to install new prehung doors?

And- is all of that advisable, or should I just try to hang new door slabs?

I guess if I were to put up temporary moulding, I would need to know where there is wood to nail into anyway.

Thanks again in advance!
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:59 AM   #12
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


That opens another whole new can of worms. I don't know if the metal you are talking about is a corner bead like they use on sheet rock or not but you do not want to nail into it with plaster as it will chip big time. Also there is no way of knowing how thick the materials are against the framing jamb.

I would for sure forget about just adding trim and go with a wooden jamb and trim, that will cause less damage and can be removed to install a new door in that opening. If you install the case opening and wish to install a door later be sure to make the jamb the right width and height as a door jamb. Make really sure the jamb is installed dead plumb and the header dead level. Make sure the sides are shimmed really good on the to be hinge side and run dead parallel with each other. If you don't you will need to tear this jamb out and install another one when installing a door.
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Old 10-14-2011, 12:57 AM   #13
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Adding moulding to a house with plaster returns?


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Originally Posted by jiju1943 View Post
That opens another whole new can of worms. I don't know if the metal you are talking about is a corner bead like they use on sheet rock or not but you do not want to nail into it with plaster as it will chip big time. Also there is no way of knowing how thick the materials are against the framing jamb.
Ok. It sounds like I'll just have to start cutting and see what I find! I'm attaching a closeup so you can see what that metal edge looks like. This is a spot where it's been dented and chipped the paint off so you can see where the metal is (it's been half-heartedly painted over). The plaster wall is on the left and the jamb is on the right. We just stripped the wallpaper off tonight. :D

I had an idea to remove a strike plate to see if I could see how the jamb was built, pictured in the second photo I've attached. It looks like the jamb goes pretty deep. I'm thinking I can drill deeper into that door catch to find out how deep the jamb goes. HOPEFULLY I will find the end of the jamb and the beginning of a rough stud. Then however deep that is, I can score and cut back the plaster to the rough opening. I guess that's probably wise to not shoot any nails into that plaster- to replace the door and jamb first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jiju1943 View Post
I would for sure forget about just adding trim and go with a wooden jamb and trim, that will cause less damage and can be removed to install a new door in that opening. If you install the case opening and wish to install a door later be sure to make the jamb the right width and height as a door jamb. Make really sure the jamb is installed dead plumb and the header dead level. Make sure the sides are shimmed really good on the to be hinge side and run dead parallel with each other. If you don't you will need to tear this jamb out and install another one when installing a door.
Don't worry, there will never be a door in that opening I was talking about at first. That is the main passage from the living room to the dining room and kitchen, about 6ft wide. That jamb and moulding will be for looks only.
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