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Old 05-18-2011, 02:59 AM   #1
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Question about lath and plaster walls


We recently bought an older home (built in the early 1900s), and it has the old lath and plaster walls. The main floor walls look great, no reason to replace them right now. The problem is the 2nd floor (upstairs). About 75% of the plaster has crumbled off of the lath. My question is how should we go about remodeling up there? The floors and walls are solid. Can we just plaster over the lath? Or would it be easier to just drywall?

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Old 05-18-2011, 05:55 AM   #2
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Question about lath and plaster walls


75% is a lot, too much to consider patching. I would recommend tearing off the lath and drywalling. While you have the walls open, update wiring and install insulation.

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Old 05-18-2011, 06:22 AM   #3
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Question about lath and plaster walls


You don't want to plaster over old wooden lath. That's antique technology. Drywall it and tape into your side walls if they are in good condition.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:54 AM   #4
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Question about lath and plaster walls


Thanks for the input guys I was just hoping that plastering would be an easier cheaper fix because it sounded like I could do it myself. With drywall, I have to wait for my husband and it will take him forever!!
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:07 AM   #5
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Question about lath and plaster walls


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Originally Posted by mandieshawn View Post
Thanks for the input guys I was just hoping that plastering would be an easier cheaper fix because it sounded like I could do it myself. With drywall, I have to wait for my husband and it will take him forever!!
Plastering is an art, not many novices pick up a hawk and trowel and apply plaster on a wall with any great efficiency. And as Bill said, updating the insulation and wiring as you go.
Be also aware that this age house will have both lead and asbestos in the building materials you remove.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:38 PM   #6
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Question about lath and plaster walls


I worked on mainly antique homes and most were lath and plaster with horsehair tossed in places. As mentioned you cannot plaster over old lathe in most circumstances and with 75 percent of the plaster failing you need to open up those walls and see what caused that just to start. And agreed, once the walls are open you can easily update plumbing, electrical and insulation.

And plastering walls in a production manner is a dying art and is done by bigger burlier men than even drywallers. A hawk full of plaster is held in one hand and folks still doing this spin them around, scoop off just the amount of plaster needed, and trowel off the plaster with a skill level I never achieved. I did do a lot of plaster repairs but not in a way the masters work at this trade. The real ones worked ceilings on stilts too.

Of course historical people claim you cannot get the feel of plaster with drywall. True to a point I guess but you skin skim coat and texture drywall to match any plaster walls you do not have to touch. And 100 year old lath is kindling by another name.

Last edited by user1007; 05-18-2011 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:53 PM   #7
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Question about lath and plaster walls


I remodeled a house built in 1911 and it had bad plaster, also.
I stripped all the plaster and lath off and updated the wiring. Then I drywalled.
The major problem that I ran into was that the studs were perfectly vertical on the wall surface but they didn't worry about them being skewed to the left or right.
Using wood lath it wouldn't matter, but with drywall its a different matter. Withou having perpendicular studs, its hard to get support for the drywall.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:10 PM   #8
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Question about lath and plaster walls


Wildie. I lost you. The studs were perfectly vertical and I am guessing parallel to each other? But had fallen out of square somehow? Wouldn't you just adjust your drywall template markings to account? Jeeze Louise, I never find parallel wall framing square and perpindicular to the foundation in old houses.

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Old 05-18-2011, 08:20 PM   #9
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Question about lath and plaster walls


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Wildie. I lost you. The studs were perfectly vertical and I am guessing parallel to each other? But had fallen out of square somehow? Wouldn't you just adjust your drywall template markings to account? Jeeze Louise, I never find parallel wall framing square and perpindicular to the foundation in old houses.
The studs were perpendicular to the floor but leaning to one side or the other and certainly not parallel to each other.
This house had a double brick outside walls. 1'X3" furring strips running vertically onto which the wood lath was nailed. (no insulation)
The interior walls appeared to have the top and bottom plates nailed in place and the studs installed afterwards.
Having studs that are parallel aren't necessary when you use wood lath and they didn't waste any time or effort to make them so.
A rather unpleasant surprise for me.
In retrospect I should have installed horizontal furring strips and mounted the drywall to this.
If I had done so it would have saved me a lot of time and material.
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:43 PM   #10
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Question about lath and plaster walls


The benefit of plastering is the way the plasterers can compensate for really rough framing and the associated lath work. While the walls might not be truely vertical, they have the presense of a true wall.
Making the transition to todays materials and a comparately minimal skill set, it's sometimes hard to get to where you need to be.
I did a bath in a house built in 1938. I had th demo crew strip the room down to the studs and floor joists. I had a bear of a time to set the wall plane so they were plumb. Strapping, shims and more then a few explicatives.
Mud jobs are a lost art.
Ron

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