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pnkangora 10-30-2007 03:12 PM

Nightmare walls-paneling, wallpaper, plaster

I recently purchased a 100 year old house and have some questions regarding solutions to my wall-woes. Practically all the walls in the house are paneling--which really doesn't bother me, and I like the look of painted paneling ok enough. However, the previous homeowners have created a very unpleasant situation in the living room.

They wallpapered over the paneling in the living room, but did not fill in the seams, so there are many creases in the wall, making it look basically like cardboard. I think it is the paintable type of wall paper, but still, whenever it gets newly wet with a fresh coat of paint, the paper sinks deeper into the cracks. The other walls have paintable wall paper over plaster, and look reasonably ok.

Also, we have hideous drop ceilings, but they are masking and even more hideous upper wall and ceiling. To add value to the home, I would really like to have the entire thing redone (walls and ceilings) redone with drywall, but I have no idea to go about judging the feasibility of this myself. Some basic questions are, 1) Would I completely remove the old paneling and plaster and work straight from the studs? I have read some articles about installing drywall over existing walls, but wouldn't this cause problems with the trim and electrical outlets (i.e. extending the thickness of the wall too far)?

I doubt I would try to mud the walls myself, but I could perhaps save some money by doing the demo, and hanging the drywall myself.

Any advice appreciated!

Handyman50 10-30-2007 09:54 PM

1) Would I completely remove the old paneling and plaster and work straight from the studs? I have read some articles about installing drywall over existing walls, but wouldn't this cause problems with the trim and electrical outlets (i.e. extending the thickness of the wall too far)?
__________________________________________________ _____________________
I am very particular (picky) when it comes to remodeling. So, I would be the first one to remove the old paneling and plaster. Oh yes, and ceiling tile. I have installed and taped allot of gypsum board, however.

With that said, you can install gypsum board over existing walls if they are level, solid and straight. Straight in an old home will be nearly impossible to find, but it is the least problematic of the conditions I mentioned. You can use an electronic stud finder to locate the studs. So, this is not a problem. The outlet/switch boxes do present a challenge. There are extensions available that will connect to the old boxes. Here is a link:

Now, taping is definitely an art. However, it can be learned by we near mortals. I learned in a day; 24 years ago. I still make mistakes, but a bit of sandpaper and time take care of that problem. I am certain that you could learn. What I would do is find a good book or website and study diligently. Then, you can take a small section of wall and use it for training. It works. All you require is time, patience and 3 taping knives; 4", 6" and 12".

Good luck!

timthetoolman 10-31-2007 06:02 PM

If it were my house i would definately remove plaster and paneling. True that in many older homes it is very difficult to find smooth walls to secure drywall to. Not to mention if the previous homeowner covered the walls with paneling, the plaster is probably in terrible shape and yes uneven-due to settling and/or numerous patches. Heres my advice for ya---

I would demo down to the studs. It would take you probably only a chunk of a day and would be worth it. Probably need a dumpster or pick-up cause plaster is both very heavy and messy.

Keep into account any windows or doors in the room. If you add a 1/2in to the walls you would also need to add strips to the face to properly attach any casing.

Rip it out to the studs and measure distance from stud to face of door jam. Plaster is always thicker than drywall due to laths, etc. Any walls with doors or windows you may want to put drywall shims on studs to make up the difference. These are 4 ft lengths of thin cardboard available at any menards or home depot.
Mudding can be difficult but you can't do anything wrong that a lil sand paper can't fix. Ok sometimes allota sanding.

localtradesman 10-31-2007 07:18 PM

Done this before
Alright...are you going to change electrical or not. How is the insulation in the walls now? If your not changeing electric and insulation is OK, I would say why not go over the top! I have used 1/4 inch drywall before and works fine. Otherwise I would recommend 1/2 inch. It is easier to work with for a novice and 1/4 inch drywall does not come in 12 foot board. As far as the windows and trim go, you just have to cut strips of finish wood to fir out to the new drywall. This is after all the drywall has been finished and the painting is done. Sure the best way is to take it down to the studs but if you want a good fix, a new skin is just FINE. And yes, if you remove the plaster it will be differant thicknesses and this gives you problems when installing new drywall. The walls will have to be firred out so the drywall is flush with your windows and door jambs. Hope this helps a bit for now. :thumbup:

oldfrt 10-31-2007 07:43 PM

I had a 100 + year old house that I did a lot of remodeling to over the years.
I would recommend taking out all old plaster and lath,and in addition to
above suggestions, rewire each room,as it may not be up to code.If you live in an area where insulation is an important factor,(either for heating or cooling)now is the time to fill those wall cavities.
It's a lot of time and hard work,but by doing a room at a time,you could still feel you're in a livable home.
Of coarse,a lot of this will depend on your long term plans for the house,but the equity level you build up will increase resale and marketability.
If you feel the project is too big for your time and expertise,do some of the work yourself and then hire qualified tradesmen.
if you are to do the demolition yourself be ready for the plaster dust that will spread through your entire home unless the area is well sealed.
Drop ceilings always send the message that something is being hidden,so don't cut your project short here.
Older homes have a charm all to them selves,they just don't make them any more.

I've found many treasures in the old walls,things that fall down from the attic in some old homes,so keep your eyes open.

Good Luck with your project.

justdon 11-06-2007 03:54 PM

Careful when you demo.
Dont break up all those pretty lathes. Save a BUNCH of them since 'usually' you can use them to fir out the studs so your 1/2 drywall fits to your door and window trim. Be VERY careful removing that trim too cause ugly can happen in a hurry and not easy to find exact replacements for them,specially if varnished finish. Unless you are going to go with all new trim of Mahogahny or OAK. Oak is more durable. IF using the old trim back write on the back of EVERY piece where it goes back on,,like North wall east side etc. It may LOOK easy to find back,,,but not so.

But those lathes are free and you need the fir out anyway,,,usually one or two makes things fit pretty darn good cause most plaster was 1/2" over the lathes. Some may be different thicknesses too. You can always use them for something later.(holds down felt paper on the roof real well!!)

And yes definitely overdo the wiring if not 100% up to code,,,its your BEST and easiest time. Ditto on insulation!! IF the ceiling is over 8' I suggest framing that in and dropping it to 8' with a new framing grid of lumber of appropraite size,,,easy to do now compared to trying to dw a 9 foot ceiling!!

Makes it look much more modern!!(and lessens heating space) Insulate it well too IF this s a one story,,,for sure!!

scorrpio 11-07-2007 09:22 AM

Had similar problem in one of rooms - paneling and drop ceiling covering hideous, cracked plaster. And no insulation in the walls. It is a major project, but it is worth it. Btw, if you don't want to redo the floors, here's an advice: after you put down some plastic, rip paneling off and use it to cover the floor. Demolishing plaster involves lots of debris raining on the floor, so you gotta have hard protection. Isolate the rest of house as much as possible against dust. Be sure to wear a respirator. And be ready to haul out tons of debris. I stripped the room down to studs, cleaned up, redid all the electricals, and since this room shares a wall with a bathroom, I put in a new shower valve. I also took out windows, reframed the openings, and put in new Andersen 400 units. Filled alll stud bays with insulation (there was none), insulated the ceiling - more for sound - and put up drywall. The room looks awesome, and it feels more spacious. Totally was worth it.

localtradesman 11-10-2007 09:27 PM

How Long did it take????
How many hours did you have in demo? Was there lathe or metal in the corners? Did you use 12 foot board? Just wondering more!!!:eek:

scorrpio 11-12-2007 03:52 PM

If you mean me, that was a small room - about 10x11. Still about 3 days non-stop with a hammer and a crowbar, and then two more loading and hauling the debris. All wood lath, no metal.

jogr 11-12-2007 04:32 PM

1. Definitely keep in mind that if you add a layer it impacts all your jam depth for windows and doors. You'll need to somehow add to the jam width. Also, if you have nice baseboard or crown molding that you want to save this will need to be cut down slightly for the shorter wall lengths.

2. Similarly, if you take out the old paneling and plaster (if there is plaster under the old paneling), and replace with drywall it might also affect your jams and trimwork unless you match the old thickness exactly. If you end up with less wall thickness than the original then all your old baseboard and crown will be too short but the jams could be planed down.

3. Many drywall finishers will charge you extra if you hang the drywall because it won't be hung the way they like it. It can actually cost you more to hang it yourself if you are hiring a finisher than to just have someone hang and finish.

4. If you are going to do this then definitely upgrade the insulation unless it's already been done.

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