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Old 06-22-2009, 02:30 PM   #1
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Plaster cracks


Hi everyone...took a few weeks off from the project and time to start again. Now that I'm in slower than slow mode I've completed the stripping and cleaning of 96 years worth of painted wallpaper , it's time to start repairing the cracks. There's so many cracks including repairing all 5 corners (corner fireplace/mantle) that I am now wondering the best way to approach this. Some are large cracks (gap maybe 1/16-1/8") while many are very fine. Many are quite long and are both vertical and horizontal.

So, now that I take a closer look at this room I'm wondering if I should just REPAPER (yikes....just got rid of 96 yrs worth) with the paper lining designed to paint over or try to repair all these cracks, which will be very time consuming but worthwhile if anticipated results are achieved. Was the paper removal project in vain if I end up using a paper liner? Maybe that's why previous owners opted to paint over existing paper?? The goal is to have smooth painted plaster walls, but am concerned some of the repairs might show through .

Okay guys...great minds work well together . What are my best options to get smooth walls?

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Old 06-22-2009, 05:22 PM   #2
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Plaster cracks


Those are normal cracks in plaster. The large cracks you can "V Out" with the tip of a scraper. It makes a 45 angle on both sides of the crack so it is less likely to pull apart and fill with joint compound. The smaller ones you can just skim over and they shouldn't appear for another 10-15 years when you are ready to paint again.

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Old 06-22-2009, 06:04 PM   #3
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Plaster cracks


What Matthew said is true,although I would tape and mud the larger,deeper ones, sand ( again) prime and paint and your done for 10 years or so.
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:39 PM   #4
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Plaster cracks


Sorry to disagree with Mathew1970, but any time you apply joint compound without tape (mesh or paper) to anything less than a slight imperfection (nail pop), the risk of them reappearing in the near future is highly likely. Chrisn's advice is sound for the large cracks. If there are many cracks, it may be worth laminating 1/4" drywall over the plaster. There is also a heavy "wallpaper" type product for use over plaster to cover cracks. The name escapes me, but I'll post it when I think of it.....
It's called Nu-Wall. Just "google" nuwall.
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:10 PM   #5
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Plaster cracks


That would be the guaranteed fix, but then you have to recut all the trim, add 3/8 strips to all the window jams, move all the ectrical plugs and switches out 3/8 inch, tape all the new seams in the drywall, 3 coats of joint compound, sand, prime, paint. That's easly a week's worth of work. What I was suggeting can easily be done in a day, and if it doesn't work, then more drastic measures can be taken.
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:37 PM   #6
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Plaster cracks


Mathew, the main thing I was disagreeing with was using regular ready-mix without tape for cracks when you "V" them out. I'd fill with latex caulk if going that route, better expansion/contraction without cracking. With the 1/4" overlay, I was figuring the typical 1"x trim around the windows/doors I usually see in older plaster houses. Butt the 1/4" drywall to the trim, flat tape and you're good to go. No need to modify trim. Longer screws for the outlets/switches if necessary. I understand your point for the "quick fix" and it might work for a good while. If cracks start showing back up in 6 or 8 weeks/months though, look at all of the time/energy/money wasted in patching and painting. I'd rather spend a little more to do it right once than maybe have to come back and redo it a year or two down the road....
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:47 PM   #7
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Plaster cracks


Thanks so much for the quick response. For starters, drywall is NOT an option. I want smooth plaster walls. I don't think drywall compares to a plastered wall as far has the hardness and smoothness.

I attempted to "V" out an area in another room with a can-opener and could hardly even scratch it, it's so hard. I've heard many say to use a can opener to dig out the crack, but it's not as easy as it sounds, lol .
Mathew when you said a scraper, are you referring to a regular paint scraper (two edge)?? I plan to use tape on the larger cracks, but what if I can't get the gap to "V" out??? Should I use the plain tape or the mesh type??? BTW, what are the two different types used for??? Will just a light skim coat cover the small hairline cracks? Will these repairs show under the paint? (Guardz will be used before the 2 coats of paint.)
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:57 PM   #8
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Plaster cracks


Another thought or question came to mind, lol ....I've read somehere where it stated that when doing plaster repairs you want the "V" reversed with the wider part of the "V" or crack to be inward towards the lathe so that when the mud is applied it squishes in there and solidifies to form "keys" to keep plaster in place. What exact tool goes in the crack to open it up from within?

Should this technique be applied for cracks or just for more serious plaster repairs where chucks have come off exposing the wooden lathe?
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Old 06-22-2009, 11:08 PM   #9
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Plaster cracks


Also wanted to ask you guys about wetting the plaster crack before applying the mud. I read this helps prevent the plaster from absorbing the liquid from the mud and causing cracks again. What's your thoughts on this??
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:12 AM   #10
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Plaster cracks


Should this technique be applied for cracks or just for more serious plaster repairs where chucks have come off exposing the wooden lathe?

Yes, in your case,you don't need to worry about it( I would'nt think). As to the opening up to the V shape,I would not worry about that too much either, just run your 5 and one down it with the pointed edge a couple times to remove any loose stuff.

wetting the plaster crack before applying the mud.

Absolutly!

Just to add( and you are probably not going to like it but) you should use a Dura bond trpe product for the initial coat( for the big cracks) as it drys harder and use JC for the finish so you can sand it easily. Here is what I am talking about and is something you can get from the dreaded Blows that is a good thing

SHEETROCK® DURABOND® setting-type joint compounds are chemically-setting powder compounds that permit same-day joint finishing and next-day decoration of drywall interiors and exterior soffits. They provide a hard, plaster-like surface when dry and are virtually unaffected by humidity.
The compounds provide multiple applications: filling, smoothing, and finishing interior concrete ceilings and above-grade concrete surfaces; taping and finishing SHEETROCK Mold Tough™ gypsum panels; and taping and finishing FIBEROCK® Aqua-Tough™ tile backerboard under tiles in bathroom wall areas. Other uses include finishing joints in exterior gypsum ceiling boards and presetting veneer plaster finish system joints. They are ideal for heavy fills.
The compounds should be smoothed before setting as they are difficult to sand after drying. They provide low shrinkage and superior bond, which make them excellent for laminating gypsum panels to gypsum panels, sound-deadening boards, and above-grade concrete surfaces.
The compounds are available in a range of formulations that provide a choice in setting times. DURABOND 20 sets in about 20-30 minutes; DURABOND 45 in 30-80 minutes; DURABOND 90 in 85-130 minutes; and DURABOND 210 in 180-240 minutes.

PS I am still tempted to come down there to set you straight one of these daysI have nothing to do
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:44 AM   #11
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Plaster cracks


Once you cut those cracks open I would recommend that you neutralize the calcium in the plaster by priming it with a product called calcimine recoater sold at a B/M dealer.

I am by no means a scientist and never put much time in researching how to neutralize acid/calcium or any other chemical. I feel painters often times go a little overboard with it.

In this particular case, I will tell you from experience that if you cut open a hairline crack in plaster there is a good shot it will soon react and crack again if there is exposed calcium and it is not neutralized.

It's a quick swipe of the brush or roller and makes a big difference when repairing plaster.
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:23 AM   #12
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Plaster cracks


Okay Chris....I'll go find some Durabond. Which should I get 20, 45, 90 or 210??? I assume this is the dry powder to be mixed with water??? {{{duh....after thinking about this I had to edit to say it was just another blonde moment; obviously being a newbie i need the 90 or 210, lol.}}} I had originally planned to use DAP Repairing Plaster. Should I now use this for the small, fine cracks only and to top off the large cracks after using the durabond first??? And btw...should I be using the DAP Repairing Plaster or just regular Joint Compound???

Now, what is calcimine recoater??? New one on me since I don't really know what calcimine is. Is it the whitewash stuff used many years ago??

And Chris....come on down. I'd show you how beautiful WV is. The media has given most of the world negative tidbits of some of the worst living
conditions imaginable giving the idea that all of WV is that way, lol . It's really a beautiful state . If you like fising and hunting (which most guys do) there are ample spots here (I live a few blocks from river, and there are streams and lakes also). And you could get a first-hand look at some of the poor quality painting and papering projects the po's have done. Quite humerous at times after getting past the point, lol . I will say my vocabulary has expanded somewhat since I started these projects, lol .

BTW...which tape should I use, the plain buff colored or the plastic mesh type???

Again, thank you so much for the help and input. I'd spent most of my life in an office and had only done one terrible paint job 10 years ago (with guidance, lol) and had papered a small bathroom which turned out great (20 yrs ago and still holding very well, but now has paint over it of course, lol (and I did that, I'm now embarrased to say) .
I am enjoying learning how to do this the right way to achieve the best results and appreciate so much the ongoing advice given by by all of you.

Last edited by saggdevil; 06-23-2009 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:53 AM   #13
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Plaster cracks


Mesh tape will be fine for your repairs and probably the easiest to work with. Definitely use setting type compound with this tape for at least the first coat. Ready-mix is for paper tape and you can use it for skim coats. I'd suggest 45 minute compound at the minimum to give yourself time to work before the compound sets up (unless you're working a very small area). You can use the Durabond for first coating the hairline cracks too. Best of luck.
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:51 PM   #14
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Plaster cracks


Today has been so fun . While trying to revive this town after the loss of industry, they forgot to add some basic shopping for painting supplies. SW is only a few blocks but they don't have everything. Durabond apparently isn't so easy to find. Today was Lowes, KMart and Walmart (choke, gag ) and none supplied Durabond, only the ready mix jc. So I guess tomorrow 20 miles in other direction to Home Depot; surely they'll have it. So if I cannot find the durabond tomorrow is there another product available??? I did see Plaster of Paris in a dry mix but wasn't sure it would be as good. Opinions please.....

Chris....wanted to let you know a good thing happened today . I found a WHIZZ brand 3/8" nap Microfiber cover @ Lowes for $3.49 (other than the one I found unexpectedly, I have searched a 50 mile radius for two weeks to find it, lol). I bought it even though I had previously gotten the one @ Harbour Freight that's 18mm nap (app 3/4"). The Whizz brand appears to be more tightly woven than the Expert brand. Just wanted to let you know since you had mentioned they were $5.00 or $6.00 each where you purchase them.
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:17 PM   #15
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Plaster cracks


Durabond is not generally found at the big box stores. A drywall supply will be the place to find it. HD and Lowes will (should) carry a product made by USG (United States Gypsum) called Easy Sand in the normal 20,45,and 90 minute setting times. It does not set quite as hard as actual Durabond, but will work fine for your purpose. It is a setting type compound and is actually a bit easier to work with. Sorry, I didn't think to advise that Durabond is sort of a "generic" term for setting compounds....

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