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Pulling Plaster: How to Decide

983 Views 13 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  MittensCat
Can anyone share how they determine whether or not to pull plaster and replace with drywall. Beyond the basic push test to see if the keys are still intact, what factors determine your decision. I have a few issues to deal with but I'm not sure if it justifies ripping out the plaster. I've done a few rooms and it's not something I look forward to.

My Pros and Cons of removing plaster

Dirty Heavy Labor
Need dumpster or dump site
Might be an asbestos danger
Must purchase material to replace

Ease of access for updated wiring and insulation
Eliminates need to deal with surfactant leaching in bathroom and kitchen
Allows assessment of framing
Eliminates need to repair or hide cracks

I've pulled plaster before and it sucks. That being said, I'm not sure it would suck more than the effort required to achieve a smooth surface on a wavy ceiling that's layered with wallpaper and paint. Because the ceilings are so low on the second floor of my home, I was planning on installing recessed lighting. I thought that having bare ceiling joists could make the wire and light install go a lot easier. I'd have to clear the insulation from above as well and replace with new (which it needs anyway). The bathroom ceiling has bad surfactant leaching and I don't know if sanding or stripping it is worth it. If I was sleeping it would be a nightmare...

So for any of you who have been through a renovation before or work in the plaster/ drywall business, what would you recommend. Is there anything you would add to my pros/cons list? Thanks for any advice.
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I agree that it is much nicer. There is a plasterer who runs a business out of a garage on the street I grew up on. I try to pick his brain as often as possible because I'd like to have the knowledge and skills to do plaster. I work as a maintenance man at a catholic school and church built in the 1920s, so I'm around damaged plaster a lot. I appreciate the solidity and durability of plaster. Drywall does seem cheap but I think any of the quality and historical value properties of plaster are lost on the unfortunate demographic of my neighborhood. I figured that plaster and lathe wood add significant strength to a structure but my engineer father in law didn't think it would be so significant.
When filling holes and cracks in plaster, does the depth of the damage determine the product used to repair? For example, If the plaster is missing from the lath you'd need to start with basecoat and then finish with a topcoat, correct? Is a two layer process acceptable, or do you need scratch,brown, finish? For filling nail/ screw hole damage, is drywall compound/ spackling acceptable? I'm trying to educated myself on drywall finishing as well. I've watched guys use setting type compounds, fiber reinforced compounds, finish coats that are easy to sand. Lots of reasons and opinions out there.

Can anyone give me a run down on the products generally used and whether they are acceptable/interchangeable for both drywall and plaster. For instance, I've heard of a fiber reinforced product called Confil. Would this modern product be a substitute for basecoat? Is regular all purpose joint compound an acceptable top coat for plaster? I'm trying to understand where past and present meet with acceptable results. It may help me decide between repair or removal.

Thanks for any help.
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Bird Doo Head thanks for the reply. I had just made my last post before I saw your contribution. If you answered any of my question already, I hadn't noticed.
Thanks for that water bucket idea Bird Doo. I've never heard of that. I try to be as hygienic as possible when I work. I don't have a hepa vac but I use a hepa filter and bag inside of my ridgid vac. I also exhaust the air (I realize the exhaust air needs filtered) and run air scrubbers made from 20x20 furnace filters taped to box fans. Also, always wearing a p100. My first post on these boards was in a panic over asbestos in plaster. I work in a grade school that has asbestos everywhere. I've reached a level of acceptance with it. My grandfather was a pipe insulator and I'm sure all of my aunts and uncles and dad were exposed all through their childhood. I try not to freak out over it, but I am very careful about myself and the risk to other people. Just hope the chrysotile is less persistent than amphibole. A lot of the studies seem to be corrupted by the industry.
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Thanks a lot Clarence! Very valuable information. You are saying to use Perlite Plaster as your basecoat on the lath? Is quikrete bonding adhesive similar to weldcrete?

In what situations would the fiber tape be necessary?
I guess perlite plaster is just structolite basecoat...
I didn't come up with the box fan and furnace filter idea. I read it on a wood working forum. I use them around the house to help with pet dander and dust. I have no idea how effective they are, but the filter will end up with a dark circle behind the fan blades.
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