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Old 04-22-2011, 05:08 PM   #1
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


Hi All:

A customer of mine has requested a pull down stairway to access his attic. No big on that, however, the ceiling is plaster/mesh/lath. I am leery of cutting into it, worried that I will cause damage to the surrounding area. Any tips or ideas?

Thanks in advance, Glenn12

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Old 04-22-2011, 06:03 PM   #2
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


I guarantee that you will have surrounding failure----is this plaster over wood lath?

If it's plaster over gypsum (1950s) with care you can cut it--

Over wood lath---expect failure about 32" wide all around.---

I know this from having done the same thing on an old 1850s house,many years ago--

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Old 04-22-2011, 06:31 PM   #3
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


As Mike stated, expect a bit of plaster damage. You are framing a rough opening and you need to connect the lath/plaster combo to the framing. That's not happening.
Install the framing first, before removing the plaster and lath.
Remove the plaster only in the opening, leaving the wood lath in place.
The plaster should be removed 2" wider on each side of the rough opening.
A grinder will remove the plaster with the least amount of trauma to the surface.
Have a helper with a shop vac.
After the plaster has been removed, attach the wood lath to the newly framed opening.
Cut out the wood lath flush with the rough opening.
Sheetrock and tape the exposed wood lath.
Install the ladder and trim out the perimeter.
Ron
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:25 PM   #4
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


Mike and Ron, thank you both for your responses. This project will be a learning experience, but should be ok. I've never had to work around the plaster/lath before and was afraid that I'd really mess up his ceiling. Patience and care should be the hallmark of this one.

Thanks again,
Glenn12
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:03 AM   #5
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


Use real plaster for the repairs and finishing touches. Drywall compound will not work in this situation. And if you compromise the lath structure somehow? Metal mesh stapled up there so the plaster has something to stick too.
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Old 04-23-2011, 07:11 AM   #6
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


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Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
Use real plaster for the repairs and finishing touches. Drywall compound will not work in this situation. And if you compromise the lath structure somehow? Metal mesh stapled up there so the plaster has something to stick too.
Why won't drywall compound work here?
Ron
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Old 04-23-2011, 08:34 AM   #7
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


Buy or rent a multi tool.
It will cut the plaster and wood lath without shaking it do death.



Another trick I use is to mark out the opening and then install a bunch of these "plaster washers" just outside your mark.
They will help secure the plaster and get covered with your finish trim or plaster.



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Old 04-24-2011, 12:06 PM   #8
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


Gentlemen:

Thanks for the replys and ideas. Each one of them is quite useful. I especially like the idea of the washers to secure the surrounding area and multi-tool for the cutting. This project will be interesting.

Glenn12
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Old 04-24-2011, 12:29 PM   #9
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


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Why won't drywall compound work here?
Ron
It will to a point but expands and contracts at a different rate than plaster because it is less dense. And, potentially, you will be putting a lot of it on and it does not have the stability of plaster.

I use a lot of the washers too. I don't know if box stores sell them though so you may have to go to your local fastener store (have better stuff anyhow). They only work if the lathe is sound though.

I also like the multi tool idea. I cringed at the cost of my Fein thing years ago but it is one of the best investments I ever made. I think they are still expensive? I cannot speak to the quality of others but everybody from Harbor Freight to Rockwell and Craftsman make the things now and replacement cutting tools.
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Old 04-24-2011, 12:43 PM   #10
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


Harbor Freight sells GREAT disposable power tools. (inseret winky guy here) but they are handy when your in a pinch and need something for a one time use.
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Old 04-24-2011, 12:52 PM   #11
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


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Harbor Freight sells GREAT disposable power tools. (inseret winky guy here) but they are handy when your in a pinch and need something for a one time use.
Agreed. Although, I got tired of buying expensive, variable speed disc sanders that no matter how careful I was would get glogged up with drywall and plaster dust. I have had this cheap Chinese thing from Harbor Freight for five or more years now and it still hums away flawlessly. Wish the box stores would sell cheap tools that worked out as well although it is still best to buy real ones, from a tool store, for most things.
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:26 PM   #12
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Cutting thru plaster ceiling


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It will to a point but expands and contracts at a different rate than plaster because it is less dense. And, potentially, you will be putting a lot of it on and it does not have the stability of plaster.
The compound would be used to tape the joint between the sheetrock perimeter patch and the plaster. It wouldn't be used to fill in the lath spaces.
Ron

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