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  • Fixing old walls

    I am trying to minimal work on an apartment unit I own and walls are plaster with wallpaper over them. Due to age, some of the plaster is pulling away from the lath underneath. So as not to get into an enormous mess I have attempted suck the plaster back against the lath by using small one inch metal disc (name: ceiling ??). I now want to mud over the areas to blend them back in, at which point I will prime and paint. My question is, what sort of mud would be best...plaster, durabond, pre-mixed drywall compound and will the mud adhere to the old wallpaper enough to great a bond or do I have to take the walls down to the old plaster? Any insight would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Fixing old walls

    Depending on just how much plaster is pulling away we have had good luck by covering the walls with 1/4 inch drywall. This thickness does not usually mean that we have to pull off the trim and reset it-you just don't have as much reveal showing on the trim. Switches and outlets have to have an extension ring added. Once we even tried lots of liquid nails and used a narrow crown stapler to hold it in place until the glue set up. It is still holding up 10 years later but am not sure that I would use it again. You would have to make sure the wallpaper and plaster are pretty secure or your drywall will not work. I am pretty sure that this way is faster for me than trying to do a bunch of patches and then getting them to all blend in. It really depends on how much of the wall is in need of repair.

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    • #3
      Re: Fixing old walls

      Overlaying with1/4 inch rock is usually going to be an easier solution but I would definitly strip the area where the keyways have broken and the plaster is falling off before rocking.If your looking to restore back to original plaster walls check out www.wconline and look for articles by the plasterman Robin Raymer.

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      • #4
        Re: Fixing old walls

        I also own older apartment buildings and often run into this problem.

        My solution is to carefully remove the loose plaster, then with a sharp utility knife, square up the opening (or use an old chisel and carefully punch through the plaster).

        Once the hole is prepared, I cut a piece of drywall (usually 1/4 inch, but it depends on the thickness of your plaster -- whatever the case, you want the drywall to be slightly recessed from the plaster) and screw the drywall to the lath.

        There are numerous ways to finish the job, but I usually just use drywall compound. Tape the seams and finish smooth with two or three coats. You can always sand as neccesary to get it smooth.

        Replacing the damaged area may seem like a lot of work you don't want to get into, but IMHO, in the long run, you're saving time and trouble.

        Personally, I'm not too keen on adding an additional layer of drywall (accept on ceilings) because I think it does create too many problems at trim, outlets etc.

        Also if you're in the US, don't forget the new Title X laws concerning lead paint exposure -- we are now required to give tenants the pamphlet "Protect your family from lead in the home" when disturbing more than two square feet of lead paint. Big-O fine possible if you don't.

        Best of luck,

        Jeff

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        • #5
          Re: Fixing old walls

          I believe that beezo, michael and Jeff have offered excellant suggestions. They've covered it all.

          I also happen to own rental property - and 'have used several methods. I've removed plaster only, removed plaster and lathes, repaired holes in the plaster and then veneered the entire walls. It all depends on what you're faced with. However, when I can get away with it, the easiest way to cover old plaster walls is with 1/4" wallboard using minimum screws and liquid nailing the rest. The results can be very satisfactory.

          But again; depending on the circumstances, it's not always the best way to go. 'Just my first choice whenever possible.

          One further note: I like using USG's First Coat. It covers well and nearly eliminates (to the eye) the texture difference of the paper and the compound. However, sometimes I will veneer the entire wall with durabond and/or EZ Sand - or both. As when veneering plaster walls in this manner, no primer is necessary since the paint adheres to the compound - nor do you need to deal with texture differences. Although it can be more time consuming, it makes for very good looking walls.

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          • #6
            Re: Fixing old walls

            As I see it, the adhesive age is a wonderful thing. We must consider however what a painter as myself has come to understand, that I can make my finish stick to what's there, but if that covering/finish isn't properly bonded, the Humpty Dumpty concept befalls us. So...if you only use minimal nailing and depend largely on adhesive, then the plaster continues to separate from the lath, ummm...not sure about that one in the loooong run. Think I'd opt for more screws when veneering but that would depend on why the plaster is failing and what future failing you could reasonably anticipate.

            Now, when laying in a drywall patch, there's nothing at all wrong with using adhesive. Prevents further disturbing the surrounding plaster.

            My best,
            Sonnie

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            • #7
              Re: Fixing old walls

              Sonnie Layne - 'Couldn't agree more. Whether it's my property or someone else's, one of the first things I do is see if the plaster is securely keyed to the lathing - then 'take it from there.
              (Sorry for the omission.)

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              • #8
                Re: Fixing old walls

                Thought I would weigh in on this subject because I just went through the same thing on a rental property a couple of weeks ago. After removing the paper I removed the large chunks of falling plaster and fixed them with one coat of patching plaster and also filled any large holes with it. I then primed the walls with a coat of water based Kilz. Then next step was unique and I was very pleased the results because it was fast, inexpensive and turned out well. I put on the walls a fiberglass mesh system called Nu-wall. Available from http://www.spec-chem.com/nuwal/. It is a wallpaper system designed to repair cracked plaster. As i said, I am very pleased with the results and was able to use labor that wasn't skilled at skimming walls. It was very easy.

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                • #9
                  Re: Fixing old walls

                  Kevin, I had forgotten about NuWall until you mentioned it. I have used it a couple of times and I know that it works well. We have it on some walls in our kitchen and it was installed almost 10 years ago. I think that paint they selll is a key to the system. I had some that I left in the bottom of a bucket and in a week it was very rubbery. I think that may help absorb any movement that you get in the walls. As I remember it was a bit tough to work with simce it came in 5 or 6 foot widths-maybe not that wide-but if you can wallpaper any at all you could do it. The fiberglass sustem actually has a pretty nice texture to it so it looks good.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Fixing old walls

                    FibraTape is another product worth mentioning. It's a self-adhesive fiberglass mesh - that I buy in 3'x 150' rolls. 'Get a lot of mileage out of it. You skim coat over it after laying it on the bare plaster walls. It covers a multitude of sins. Good stuff.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Fixing old walls

                      In my kitchen half way up the wall is sheets of plastic type tile glued on which I would like to remove and have a plain white wall. When I removed the sheets of tile there is dry brown rotten adhesive. How do I remove the adhesive and redo the wall without spending alot of money or do I need to install sheet rock?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Fixing old walls

                        My Mom's house is very old and we would like to redo the kitchen. our problem is that the walls are old plaster and looks terrible. We were going to put dry wall over the existing plaster but a lot of the framing aroung the doors has setled and is now flush to wall. taking all of the plaster down and starting from scratch is out of the question because small children are around and we are concered about lead.

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