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Old 06-25-2008, 08:10 PM   #1
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Installing baseboards on lath & plaster


I am a new DYI’er remodeling a 1948 lath & plaster home. It’s been fun and a big learning experience but could use some expert advice. When attaching MDF baseboards (5/8” at base, 3/8” top x 3 ¼ ) using 16 ga. x 2 ½ galv. finish nails at 90 psi, the nails will not penetrate the walls – the nails curled up and left dime sized holes in the plaster. I tried 100 psi with same results. This is my first time working with lath & plaster. Any suggestions will be most appreciated! Thanks…

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Old 06-26-2008, 01:44 AM   #2
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Installing baseboards on lath & plaster


Is it possible that someone removed the gauging strip at the bottom of the wall.

On the gyproc plaster walls in my building, there's a 1X3 at the bottom of the wall that's covered by the baseboard. The baseboard is nailed directly to it.

I can't imagine how they would have attached baseboards in 1948 to that wall if there were no gauging strip along the bottom to which the baseboard could be nailed. A nail driven into plaster won't hold.

If it wuz me, I'd probably use double sided carpet tape to attach your baseboards to your plaster walls then.

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Old 06-27-2008, 06:58 PM   #3
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Installing baseboards on lath & plaster


I would suggest using "Liquid Nails" to attach the baseboards. If you use construction grade adhesive, it will adhere forever. In fact, the plaster will come off before the baseboard; guaranteed. Then, you can caulk and paint.
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Old 06-27-2008, 07:41 PM   #4
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Installing baseboards on lath & plaster


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Originally Posted by B Scott View Post
I am a new DYI’er remodeling a 1948 lath & plaster home. It’s been fun and a big learning experience but could use some expert advice. When attaching MDF baseboards (5/8” at base, 3/8” top x 3 ¼ ) using 16 ga. x 2 ½ galv. finish nails at 90 psi, the nails will not penetrate the walls – the nails curled up and left dime sized holes in the plaster. I tried 100 psi with same results. This is my first time working with lath & plaster. Any suggestions will be most appreciated! Thanks…
Is there possibly a steel plate behind that area? or, something that is not allowing the nail to penetrate? They should be sinking.
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:22 PM   #5
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Installing baseboards on lath & plaster


Nowadays no one would nail a baseboard to plaster just as we wouldn't nail a baseboard to drywall. And, they wouldna dunnit in 1948 either.

I think what you have there is an old brick chimney or fireplace that's been plastered over by a previous owner. Your nails are hitting something hard behind the plaster, perhaps a stone fireplace.

A pneumatic nail would go into brick. But stone is MUCH harder than brick, and your nails will curl up like Pretzels if they're shot into stone.
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Old 06-30-2008, 03:54 PM   #6
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Installing baseboards on lath & plaster


It may be worth taking out a section of the plaster to find out. We're all intrigued now. Let us know what you find out.
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:29 PM   #7
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Installing baseboards on lath & plaster


I just installed MDF baseboard in a 110+ year old house (lath and plater walls). my walls don't have a board at the bottom either - the lath & plaster goes all the way down to the subfloor... I used an air nailer with 2" finish nails ("T" shaped) @ only 60 psi and tried to hit the studs behind the lath and they went in no problem. in spots where I couldn't find the stud I shot the nails in at 45 degrees (to the wall) or there abouts to help get hold... I also used some construction adhesive on the back of the base.

I had one nail not go through and curl up on me but it was in an area where I had patched a hole in the plaster with cement so I wasn't too surprised when it didn't go through there.

there should be no problem shooting nails thru plaster and if you can at least hit the lath they should hold well enough (until glue dries)...

are you sure the plaster isn't applied directly over brick (or stone)? some old houses are like that.

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