+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sacramento
    Posts
    8

    Default Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    I have a 1913 bungalow with what I believe is the original plaster in the bathroom, tooled to look like subway tile. Has anyone ever seen this or know what this technique is called? It also surrounds the clawfoot bathtub (floor to ceiling). I'm contemplating tiling that area over because of overspray from the shower, but am torn between preserving this unusual effect and having something easier to maintain. Would appreciate any thoughts on this, thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Omaha, Neb.
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    My 1910 American foursquare has this from the floor to about four feet up on the walls in the bathroom.

    I have had two plasterers out to look at restoring it (mine was under layers of plastic tile, paint and wallpaper), and neither of them had a name for it. I couldn't find anything ******, either.

    I have come across only two other people who had seen similar plaster work when I was looking for advice.

    In my opinion, if it's unusual enough that people aren't very familiar with it, I'd try to keep it. Maybe there's another way to address the shower spray.

    But perhaps that's because I'm the fool who tried to restore mine decades after other people decided to cover it up.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by littleitalygem; 01-14-2008 at 08:37 AM. Reason: clarity

  3. #3

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    Anything that makes your house unique is worth saving. There any number of decorative plaster treatments used over this country, all of them expressing the flair of the original owners and craftspeople that worked to create your present home.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sacramento
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    Thanks both of you for your input - I'll definitely preserve it then. I'm thinking I'll clean up the lines with a Dremel or such, and smooth it out and repaint it with a semigloss (instead of the flat that's on it), that should help with the moisture.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Omaha, Neb.
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    My plaster was scored with a double line (as if a bobbypin was used to draw the lines), and I worried about destroying the detail if I got carried away with a Dremel.

    What worked at my house:

    I held a level against the line while running an orange stick back and forth to clean out the line, using the level to guide the stick. An orange stick, in case you don't know, is a small wooden stick with tapered ends usually used for manicures (which makes it really odd that I had any).

    You might want to ask someone with paint expertise about kitchen and bath enamel as a possible paint option. It's designed for humid areas, so maybe that would work for a damp area??

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    S.E. Michigan
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    I have seen this type of plastering in houses biult around 1900 up to the 1920's. the plasterers use to also do stone work out of plaster, I have repaired walls that had water damage and I had to make it look like block walls in a main staircase. I have some pictures of repairs I've done at www.frankawitz.net if you would like to take a look.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    I know this is an older thread but wanted to add that our bathroom has this! The house was built in the 1880s but we believe the bathrooms (in their current form) were added in the 1920s.

    It does seem to be unusual -- ours looks so much like subway tile that most people think it is. We did, too, at first when we bought the house. But we've had time to examine it since then and we've even patched a few small areas, so it is definitely plaster work carved to look like tile.

    As for protecting the plaster from shower spray, look for a special protective finish sold in the paint section. It's usually used to protect decorative or faux finishes. It goes on with a milky, creamy consistency and dries clear.

    We used it (two coats) on all four walls and the ceiling of a bathroom in our previous house and it worked wonderfully. It stood up to hot steam, direct water contact from splashes and overspray, and even water beading up on the upper walls and ceilings in the shower area.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    I realize this is an old thread but I have this tooled plaster in my bathroom as well. I do not have a footed cast iron tub but an enameled cast iron that is mounted to the wall. At some point the previous owners put flat shower walls up against the plaster in a uuuugly yellow color. Now that is failing and I really want to just use the plaster tooled walls, They apprear to be in good shape behind the plastic walls.
    Can I waterproof the tooled walls in the shower/bath area and perhaps use the weather proof on the rest of the tooled plaster in the room, goes up about 4 ft on the walls? Would this cause any kind of problem?
    Thanks,
    Susan

  9. #9

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    I think it would work fine. As I said, we used two heavy coats in a previous bathroom and it held up great. After many years it still looked new, no water stains or any appearance that moisture had been able to penetrate the coating. I will mention that when the coating dries it is clear but it does have a particular gloss to the finish (not really shiney but not matte either) which is different than any of the paint finishes I've worked with. So if you were planning to only cover part of a wall the underlying paint color might look a shade off from the rest of the paint on the uncoated part of the wall. Just something to keep in mind. In our current bathroom (the one with the plaster subway tiles) we just used two coats of an oil based primer and an oil based top coat. This seems to be working fine, the wall against the pedestal tub gets a lot of splashes and overspray and the paint is doing great. However, a shower introduces a lot more moisture in the form of fine steam, so if we had a shower in that bathroom I would have used the special coating again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Ladson,SC
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Plaster walls tooled to look like subway tile?

    The plaster used on those bath room walls was most likely Keene Cement which is not readly available on todays market it would require a special order to get in most places.
    If anyone is going to repair this type plaster I would reccomend the use of some kind of Venetian Plaster with a sealer.
    Check some of these. Baldina wax for Venetian plaster - Altova Venetian Plaster & Viero Wax --- AQUA WAX LITEX Venetian plaster.
    To score the joints someone said looked like they used a bobby pin that can be used a steel nail or a bent all thread rod sized to joint.
    You can also bend one from metal like banding strapping used for holding materials on pallets.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •