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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

I am looking to put up some board and batten wainscotting and chair rail. I have plaster walls and it's extremely difficult to locate the studs. Is it necessary to nail the molding into studs or will it be secure simply by shooting multiple nails into the plaster? Even if I could find studs, there's no way that the vertical stiles would all be lined up with studs.

I'd rather not use liquid nails or any other adhesive, if I don't have to, in the unlikely event that I take the molding down in the future.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks
 

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General Contractor
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84 Posts
If you're lucky, they are a true lathe and plaster, and not plaster over drywall. In that case, the lathe should hold the wainscoting and chair rail.
I would also use a "butterfly" nailing pattern. To do this, when ready to nail a section, you fire two nails into same hole. One nail is angled to the left, and one is angled to the right (approximately at 45 degrees). Since both are in the same hole, it looks like a single nail, but is actually two at 90 degrees to each other.
 

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journeyman carpenter
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3,480 Posts
the butterfly method works very well.. also called scissor nailing or split nailing.. the only thing i would advise is to not go at 45 degrees. reason being many nailers have the issue of not fully setting nails when nailing at such a steep angle so you will end up having to set quit a few nails by hand

honestly i would use adhesive as well, scissor nailing does work but over time it can lose its hold
 

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You can cut out the plaster where it will be covered by the new finish and see where the studs are. Check with disposable drill bit up near the finish line to check studs are plumb. Where your trims end over a space, you may have to think about your frames to reinforce those points. Plaster wall is likely to have thin boards (name?) behind it which can hold nails, although also likely to split. If you have 3/8" plaster boards, nails may not hold much and will not help with warped/warping boards/trim. Cross nailing may not sink the nail heads and will need to be hand sunk. Use the glue on the stiles to eliminate later movement since nails can loosen up. Boards are floated. If not, you can glue and screw a ply as one piece on the wall and add the stiles - I think this is called false wall.
 
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