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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 21, 1999
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    Rochester, NY
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    12,329

    Default Repairing Plaster Ceilings

    As some of you know from previous posts, I have an old house. The oldest part of the house (most of it) has plaster ceilings. The ceiling in the living room, in particular, needs to have something done with it. It's cracking rather badly.

    I'm pulling myself in two different directions. On one hand, I have a feeling that resale value would probably be better if I had the ceiling, and the walls, drywalled. It's just so much easier to maintain, and I think that there are a lot of people out there who don't want to fuss and bother. On the other hand, I love my old house, that doesn't have a straight line anywhere and that has aged so gracefully. That part of me wants to keep its character intact and find someone who knows how to repair a plaster ceiling.

    Those of you who have old houses, what have you done in similar situations? What problems have you run into, and what solutions have you found?
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2009
    Location
    Michigan
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    385

    Default

    One old house I owned had storm damage; the contractors simply came in and put the drywall over the existing plaster and attached it to the studs. Looked great, no mess (except for typical drywall mess) and I really think it helped with sound proofing. The house I am in now has a room with the plaster coming down and I'm going to do the same to it.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2002
    Location
    Henrico, NC 36 30'50.49" N 77 50'17.47" W
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    Default

    I'd fix it. I hate drywall.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Jun. 7, 2002
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    3,836

    Default

    We were faced with the same kind of problem this summer when renovating our family's house.
    We asked a friend of ours who's also a mason / builder to help us with re-plastering the whole kitchen (walls and ceiling). On the walls, we added texture by swiping a rough cloth before the plaster was dry. Then we painted the walls with a natural ochre pigment paint. It turned out great, and it wasn't that hard, you just need someone to show you where not to go wrong.
    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2007
    Posts
    3,154

    Default

    I think you might find a lot of helpful stuff on a group called old house online; there are also a kind of "button" for plaster repairs...
    http://www.amazon.com/Plaster-Repair.../dp/B0053Q9QR4
    This Old House has a YouTube video using them (my DSO's father told me about them for future reference for our old house)
    Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
    Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique
    http://wilddiamondintherough.blogspot.ca/



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Location
    Rochester,NY,USA
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    7,421

    Default

    Try to get a call through either Sat or Sun morning to WHAM radio, 1180 AM, for the Jim Salmon show about Home Repair. They can usually recommend someone to contact to do the job.

    I'm with Tom King. I hate drywall. I was raised in a home my parents built with plaster walls and ceiling (not as old as your family home though)

    If I ever won the lottery I'd tear down my current home and rebuild it with real plaster walls and ceiling.
    Sue
    Back in my day, we didn't have as many warning labels because people weren't so dang stupid!



  7. #7
    Louise is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    Oct. 21, 1999
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    Rochester, NY
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    Default

    Sigh, the guy I have do my plowing just stopped in. He's a contractor who has done other, good, work around the house and he took a look at my ceiling. He says it's too far gone to repair, it's been repaired too many times, already, making it even heavier. I'm getting a quote on replacement (drywall) from him. I'll get a couple of other in to take a look, also.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2002
    Location
    Henrico, NC 36 30'50.49" N 77 50'17.47" W
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    Default

    There are not that many people left anymore who know enough about plaster that would know how to fix plaster, much less what's the best thing to do. The average contractor certainly won't.

    It's certainly possible that it's to the point that the best thing to do would be tear it all down, but not necessarily so.

    Do you know what kind of lath it's on, or when the house was built?

    One of the things we do is fix plaster in 200 year old houses and older.



  9. #9
    Louise is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    Default

    Tom, this part of the house was built in the 1860's. It was obviously not built by anyone who made a living building houses. There's not a straight line to be seen, and the plaster work, even on the walls is very rough and unprofessional looking. My best guess is that it was built by the man who was going to live in it, not, of course, uncommon in those days. In short, this is not any kind of fancy, for the time, home. It's the kind of place your ordinary settler or farmer would build. The additions to this original part are a lot more "finished" looking.

    I don't know what kind of lath it's on. I do know that, over the years, every time my Dad painted, he would patch the walls and ceiling. At the present time, it's sagging, and cracking, and the cracking is quite severe.

    I just took a couple of pictures. I don't know how much they will show you, but, it might help.

    http://pic100.picturetrail.com/VOL72.../407807944.jpg

    http://pic100.picturetrail.com/VOL72.../407807943.jpg
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2002
    Location
    Henrico, NC 36 30'50.49" N 77 50'17.47" W
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    Default

    It's probably wood lath, which is probably still fine. We've fixed much worse, but it does cost real money.

    It would actually be cheaper to take it all down, and replaster using the existing lath, but even that costs a lot more than putting up sheetrock. It comes off the lath pretty easily without harming the lath, but does require a lot of preparation of the room to simplify cleanup.



  11. #11
    Louise is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    Default

    The walls are wood lath, so I imagine you're correct.

    I just have a lot of thinking to do. At my stage in life, I always have to think about when I sell, probably in 10 to 15 years. Every old house around me has been either torn down completely, or torn down to the foundation and completely rebuilt. If I face the likelyhood that is what will happen to this house, also, is it worth spending the money to restore, rather than to repair so that it will last until I leave?

    My next door neighbor is planning on selling in the next year or so. He, also, has an old farmhouse that he has completely redone, paying no attention to restoration, but rather to modernizing. I was hoping to hold out to see what happens to his house, but I just don't think that my ceiling will make it.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 12, 2005
    Location
    Canada
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    Default

    We have an old house (1840's) with a very bad plaster ceiling in the kitchen (way worse than your pictures Louise!) with wood lathe under that needs tearing down.

    The whole kitchen needs to be torn back to the studs, but that's not in the budget right now and won't be for some time.

    In various parts of the kitchen, the plaster rains down and covers everything in a fine film now and and then (maybe more regularly than that) and is generally awful.

    We've considered a variety of temporary options until we can do a whole kitchen reno.

    One of the options we've considered and have not priced out yet is this one, http://www.armstrong.com/residential...z141rfZ1z141sk

    If you look under "Installation" it attaches to tracks which should attach to the lathe and our hope is that it would help hold everything together enough and make it look a bit better until we're ready to rip it all down.

    It does add some weight overall, which is my concern, but my husband thinks that the tracks will overcome that.

    I'm not totally convinced and we haven't priced it out yet... but I just thought I'd share, in case it might be an option for you.

    Best of luck...old houses can be challenging, especially if you don't have unlimited funds!
    GP



  13. #13
    Louise is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    Default

    I love the looks of that, giantpony! It's certainly something I will look into. Is it, basically, a dropped ceiling? I have that in another room of the house and it's doing the job well. I just don't particularly like the looks of the tile that's up there. This would look lovely in the livingroom.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 12, 2005
    Location
    Canada
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    Default

    I think its similar to a dropped ceiling, but I don't think there's actually the space above it. IF i understand it correctly, I think it sits tight(ish) against the existing ceiling.

    There's an alternate installation where you can basically glue them up too... but given that our plaster is in such bad shape, I know it would absolutely not hold the extra weight.

    I'm normally not a fan of just covering things up, I prefer to tear stuff down and do it correctly... but right now, given that this kitchen is going to be a very expensive reno and we're not even close to being able to afford it, we have to explore bandaid solutions.

    But its pretty and its paintable. It would hold us over until we were ready, assuming its not cost prohibitive. And it would stop the plaster rain that I've put up with for 6 years now!

    GP



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