A less horrible plaster repair method

Discussion in 'Non-audio related DIY' started by Farmhand, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Farmhand

    Farmhand Super Member

    Our house is a little over 100 years old and as such it has lath-and-plaster walls and ceilings. As it tends to do, the plaster has come loose in several areas, some large. The small stairwell leading upstars from the kitchen is narrow, and the plaster on the walls is afloat in large areas- you can push on it and it moves. I've been putting off repairing it because I figured I'd have to demo all the loose plaster, which would make an unbelievable mess. I finally decided to tackle it because I found a less invasive method (thanks, This Old House!) and I wanted to share it in case any of you are in the same situation.
    Drill 1/4" holes through the plaster, but not through the lath, in a grid pattern leaving about 3" between holes. Make sure that the holes go to the lath rather than into the void between laths. Vacuum the dust out of the holes and inject construction adhesive until it starts to back out of the holes- cutting the nozzle of the tube straight across rather than at an angle makes it a little less messy. In especially loose places you will see the plaster start to bulge out as the adhesive gets in behind it.
    In small areas, using fender washers and sheetrock screws (2" or so), screw the plaster down, running the screws into the holes you drilled to inject the glue.
    For large areas, I made 12" squares of 3/8" CDX plywood and covered one side with clear packing tape. This keeps it from sticking to the wall. After injecting glue I place the taped side against the wall and screwed through the plywood into the wall.
    It's working well so far, producing a fraction of the mess of demolition. Once I've got a large section done I'll start mudding and sanding while glue is curing in the next section.
  2. c.coyle

    c.coyle Fighting the Dunning-Kruger Effect Subscriber

    40.3329535 -76.4231855
    So, you are screwing (EDIT: pulling?) the 12" squares tight against the sagging section of plaster, waiting for the adhesive to dry, then removing the squares and patching the holes?
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  3. spartanmanor

    spartanmanor AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Arlington, Virginia
    Sounds interesting, could you post some photos?
  4. roger2

    roger2 . Subscriber

    What prevents the fender washers sticking to the glue?
  5. GuyK

    GuyK Addicted Member

    Shoreline, Wa
    I've most often seen the screws and washers get left in place when using this method. They will get a skim of mud to cover them.
  6. Farmhand

    Farmhand Super Member

    I could post pictures- of a nice, smooth wall of firmly attached plaster. It was time consuming but vastly less messy than tearing out all that 100+ year old plaster (plus whatever's hiding behind it... *shudder*... what I found under the stair treads was bad enough!) This is a narrowish, windowless stairwell that leads directly into the kitchen, so copious amounts of dust would have gone either up to the bedrooms or down into the kitchen. All I had to do in this case was vacuum the treads at the end of each day.
    The old stair treads were worn down- I mean substantially scooped out- and painted dark brown. I tore them out and replaced them with varnished pine, which I stuck down with more construction adhesive and pin-nailed in place while the glue cured. Then I painted the walls a sort of peach color and all the trim in antique white. All this turned it into a far more pleasant space.
    I also took out an old, obsolete drain pipe that ran across the wall. Now that I think of it, it might have come from the cistern in the attic and directed water down to the kitchen. Yes, the house is that old.
    Once that was gone I installed a hand rail, which is also varnished pine.
    Best of all, my wife is thrilled with it.
    Oh, speaking of finding stuff, I found an I.O.U. from the very early 1900s, signed by a man who used to live here. It took him 15 years to pay off $200.
    John James and GuyK like this.
  7. pdm4606

    pdm4606 Super Member

    Las Cruces, NM
    Sounds like a lot of work.
    Most folks would just bite the bullet and pull the old stuff and go with drywall. I have done drywall fixes several times and prefer it.
  8. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8641 Subscriber

  9. SoCal Sam

    SoCal Sam Lunatic Member

    Drywall isn't the same as plaster. I had plaster in my mid-century but pulled it down in favor of drywall. Made in wall work a lot easier but I prefer the old plaster.
  10. Audiotfoot

    Audiotfoot Member

    Central Montana, USA
    #1 on the plaster washers. We used them in our 101 year old house to repair sagging plaster ceilings and loose plaster on walls. Unfortunately the basement stairwell was beyond repair and plaster had to be removed and sheetrock installed. When we refinished our banister - a multi-week job - we took off three layers of paint and the original varnish - brown, green, gold and dark brown stain. Lots of work, but well worth it.

    And the method op described is innovative and something I'll remember for the future.
  11. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

    SCS, MI (near a lake)
    I recently discovered the "Ask This Old House" series on their site. I've already found a few helpful hints for minor repairs and touch-ups! I saw a neat method for repairing drywall that has a large hole in it. Good stuff!

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