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Old 10-13-2007, 06:51 AM   #1
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Skim coat for damaged plaster walls


The plaster ceiling of my 1930 bathroom was damaged by moisture. I scraped the ceiling and walls. In some areas, the multiple layers of old paint peeled off easily in large sheets, revealing the hard, smooth finish plaster underneath. In other areas, the oldest layer of original oil-based paint is strongly adhered like a hard ceramic glaze. Even aggressive paint stripper is painfully slow to soften it. Also, I left some gouges in the plaster, trying to get the old paint off.

Rather than struggling for days to get every speck of old paint off, can I just skim coat the whole plaster surface with joint compound and sand it smooth? (This is a 5' x 7' bathroom. Subtracting tiled area on four walls, the door, and the window, the plaster wall area is only a few square feet.) The plaster on the walls is flat and solid; it's only a couple of layers of old paint and the gouges I made which leave it superficially uneven.

On the ceiling, the finish plaster fell off in a couple of moisture-damaged areas, leaving the rough brown coat exposed. Finish plaster thickness is about 1/16". Same question here -- can I fill in the missing finish plaster with a hot mud, then skim coat the whole ceiling and sand it?

Finally, there's about a one-inch radius where the walls meet the ceiling. It has damage to the plaster on a couple of linear feet. I can't figure out what tools to use, to repair and blend in this radiused corner.

Thanks for this great site; the search function is like an encyclopedia.
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Old 10-13-2007, 07:14 AM   #2
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Have you considered "overlaying" it with 3/8" sheetrock and 2" screws? Much easier and also a permanent correction to the ceiling.
FWIW: We do these all the time for poor looking old plaster ceilings. In fact, ceilings we did over 20 years ago, still look new...
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Old 10-13-2007, 08:15 AM   #3
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Yes, I am considering to overlay the ceiling with sheetrock. I saw your photo of one in another thread.

I would prefer to keep the plaster walls, since they interface with tile edges and the door casing. Is it an unreasonable amount of work to skim coat and sand the limited wall area that would be left (about 20 sq ft)?

In any case, there's still that 1-inch radius all around the perimeter of the ceiling.

Last edited by slapdash; 10-13-2007 at 08:26 AM.
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Old 10-13-2007, 05:05 PM   #4
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We skim coated our entire living room and ceiling. We also have plaster walls, but the previous owners did a horrible job painting. The texture was bad, there was dried thick spots and drips, so we skim coated. We also had to repair a crack in the wall.

It's a pain in the neck for a large room, but a bathroom might not be that bad. When you sand, be prepared for extremely fine dust. It's hard to clean up, so I recommend laying plastic or some non-porous sheet down.


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Old 10-14-2007, 05:27 AM   #5
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Okay, thanks for the info, MyDIYTry.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:51 PM   #6
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Re: Skim coat for damaged plaster walls


Much appreciated
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Old 09-11-2017, 12:58 PM   #7
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Re: Skim coat for damaged plaster walls


The drywall approach is actually the easiest and most guaranteed to have good and long lasting success. If you're worried about the ceiling to wall interface, you can just add a small crown molding.
I've skim coated walls to cover up rough plaster before. It works, but I've used a bonding agent brushed on just ahead of the skim coat. You might want to do the same since you're dealing with a ceiling and the after effects of a moisture problem. ...speaking of which, do you have a ventilation fan in there now? That'd help with getting the moisture out from showers and now would be the time to install one before you start messing with the ceiling.
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