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Pulling Plaster: How to Decide

982 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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To check to see if the Plaster Keys have or are failing try this method.
Using the heel of your fist strike the Plaster surface between the studs.
If you hear what sounds like falling gravel on the interior of the walls the keys are failing or have failed. If failure has already occurred the surface will move inward & outward when pushed on.
Do this test in at least 5 areas.
If you are not going to do any other up dates the Plaster can be saved & repaired not a big problem. If you can do drywall mudding & taping you can repair plaster with better results using the correct products.
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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.
For filling areas where the lath is exposed you should use a base coat material. In these areas you should clean the space between the laths, Than on the edges where the existing Plaster is to remain back cut the edges of the plaster (back cutting is cutting an angle @ say a 45* under cut so the new base plaster is under the existing finish)
The best material for this repair is a Perlite Plaster using this you only need to add water & can mix only what is need @ the time. Before the repair is started using a spray bottle mist the repair area down with water, or better use 1/2 water & 1/2 bonding agent like weldcrete or equal. One coat of base is fine. Leave the base coat back 1/8" or match the existing finish depth. For the finish use a Plaster product like USG Diamond Finish Plaster or equal. Also pre wet before applying the Finish. As for small nail holes use just the Finish Plaster.
When using mesh tape with a Plaster product I would recommend that you use mesh that is designed for the product selected example USG Diamond Finish use USG Imperial Brand Tape.
As for the use of a Joint Compound applied over Plaster in my 41 years of doing Plaster repairs I would NOT recommend it, it will fail & moisture will be your big problem that causes failure when it is used.
A setting would be the most compatible but I would only use it as a last result. If your existing Plaster is stable & NO other repairs are needed or will be included look at these products.
Plaster Magic = to reattach Plaster to the Lath.
A Veneer Restoration Plaster = example Master of Plaster or Equal.
The use of a Plaster product requires no sanding.
Do not let the Cost of the plaster products scare you off.
Call Lauren @ Master of Plaster @ ask her if you can get a wet sample to try on your existing plaster The number is 803-403-5252 tell her Hank told you to call I have NO connection I help get her started in her business.
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I guess perlite plaster is just structolite basecoat...
Yes perlite & Structo-lite are the same.
Most any bonding agent would be fine being it is an interior project.
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