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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    5

    Unhappy old plaster walls

    Hi, we recently inherited an old house built in 1926. It has the original wallpaper in every room and on the ceilings. My daughter and I have removed and painted 2 bedrooms. The paper came off rather easy but the wall are rough and cracked. The finish look is ok for the bedrooms but I would like a smoother finish for the dining room and living room. Should we drywall over the paper or still take it off and have it power sanded? And what do I do about the papered ceilings? Drywall if there's major cracks? HELP!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: old plaster walls

    kwebb,

    Were it my house, I would remove the old paper and work with the existing walls unless I found then too badly deteriorated. If the plaster is basically still tight, you can quickly run a sander over the surface to knock down the high spots. You can then trowel on a thin coat of drywall compound. A product I like is Durabond Easy Sand 90. This is a "hot mud", meaning that it will suddenly set up at about 90 minutes. DuraBond has excellent adhesion and does indeed sand relatively easily. Being a hot mud means that it dries chemically, so no matter how deep a patch you make, it will still set in about 90 minutes. However, it sands more easily if you wait a couple hours for the water to evaporate. It will turn nice and white when thoroughly dry. At this point, you can sand the walls with a drywall sanding block with a 120 grit drywall sanding screen on it. This will help assure a nice flat surface. Hand sanding will impart some wavyness. This is a very dusty process, so you will want to block off the entrance to the area with plastic sheeting.

    If your plaster has loose spots, you might want to get the services of a plasterer. If the plaster has started to separate from the underlying lath, a pro would be helpful. I personally would stay with the plaster if possible. Adding drywall on top of plaster throws all the dimensions of the trim out of whack. It ends up looking tacked on and amateurish.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: old plaster walls

    You can follow Ordjen's advice except I would recommend that you not use the Durabond Easy Sand.
    The reason being that joint compounds fail over time when used over Plaster.
    Check on one of the following plaster products.
    Using ONLY LIME BASED Plaster products.
    Master of Plaster
    Litex
    San Marco
    Atova
    Tex Ston
    Variance
    All the above should have a Lime Based Mix ready to use direct from pail.
    I use the Master of Plaster product user friendly no sandiong required.
    The others also sould require NO SANDING.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: old plaster walls

    Quote Originally Posted by ordjen View Post
    kwebb,

    Were it my house, I would remove the old paper and work with the existing walls unless I found then too badly deteriorated. If the plaster is basically still tight, you can quickly run a sander over the surface to knock down the high spots. You can then trowel on a thin coat of drywall compound. A product I like is Durabond Easy Sand 90. This is a "hot mud", meaning that it will suddenly set up at about 90 minutes. DuraBond has excellent adhesion and does indeed sand relatively easily. Being a hot mud means that it dries chemically, so no matter how deep a patch you make, it will still set in about 90 minutes. However, it sands more easily if you wait a couple hours for the water to evaporate. It will turn nice and white when thoroughly dry. At this point, you can sand the walls with a drywall sanding block with a 120 grit drywall sanding screen on it. This will help assure a nice flat surface. Hand sanding will impart some wavyness. This is a very dusty process, so you will want to block off the entrance to the area with plastic sheeting.

    If your plaster has loose spots, you might want to get the services of a plasterer. If the plaster has started to separate from the underlying lath, a pro would be helpful. I personally would stay with the plaster if possible. Adding drywall on top of plaster throws all the dimensions of the trim out of whack. It ends up looking tacked on and amateurish.
    Thank you so much for the wealth of info.... do I spread the mud over the whole wall or just the rough spots and cracks?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: old plaster walls

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarence View Post
    You can follow Ordjen's advice except I would recommend that you not use the Durabond Easy Sand.
    The reason being that joint compounds fail over time when used over Plaster.
    Check on one of the following plaster products.
    Using ONLY LIME BASED Plaster products.
    Master of Plaster
    Litex
    San Marco
    Atova
    Tex Ston
    Variance
    All the above should have a Lime Based Mix ready to use direct from pail.
    I use the Master of Plaster product user friendly no sandiong required.
    The others also sould require NO SANDING.
    Thanks so much ! What should I do with the papered ceilings? Some have bad cracks and some don't.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: old plaster walls

    Remove paper and glue, use a fine fiber mesh over cracks skim complete ceiling or walls with first coat of base material about 1/16 inch when dry apply the second coat of base material this coating maybe as thin as 1/32 inch.
    Final coat will be finish max thickness of 1/32 inch.
    Use a misting bottle with water and trowel smooth.
    The above is based on the use of Master of Plaster your ceilings and walls should be as smooth as glass.
    If one of the other products is used follow there written instructions and use the mesh over all cracks.
    Tex Ston will work very much like MOP.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: old plaster walls

    This is where having a talented plasterer is of value. What Clarence is describing is skim coating the entire wall with plaster like materials. I do not disagree with his position that this would give optimum results. However, such use of a trowel is an acquired skill and a novice can get into a real mess.

    Over the years, I have had no problems with the use of DuraBond. The fact that it is readily sandable makes it forgiveable for do it yourselfers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: old plaster walls

    Yes a novice can get into a mess with most all plaster finish coats.
    However if the novice can apply Durabond to a sandable coating than that same novice can apply the M.O.P. to a smooth finish with less time required plus NO SANDING required.

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