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plasterJoe Provey

If you live in an older home built before the advent of drywall, you know that old plaster walls and ceilings require a lot of maintenance to keep them looking good; they can get pretty crummy looking after years of neglect. Cracks and peeling tend to appear regularly due to settling of the house, contraction and expansion of framing, and moisture buildup in the walls.

I awoke one morning not being able to stand the peeling and cracks any longer. The choices, I knew, were: cover with a thin sheet of drywall, skim coat the walls with plaster, or patch up the plaster.

Covering with drywall would mean covering the edges of the old baseboard and crown molding, something I didn't want to do. And I was not about to remove my handsome old moldings and then reinstall them. The moldings would surely get ruined in the process.

Nor was I about to apply a skim coat, a process that involves covering the entire wall with a new topcoat of plaster or drywall compound. It's a difficult skill to master, especially if you're doing it only once or twice.

So I took the patching route. With it came an extra step that I believe ensures that I won't have to be doing the job over a few years from now.

Beginner and up. If you're a beginner, take care not to apply too much drywall compound. It goes on easy but is messy to sand away the excess.

Several hours or more, depending on surface conditions.

- Taping knife
- Concrete bonding adhesive (you can also use patching plaster instead)
- Sanding sponge
- Painting supplies (paint brush or roller, primer, and paint of choice)

Less than $20 for the patching supplies, some of which you may already have around the house. The cost of painting supplies vary according to the type of paint you choose, and whether or not you use primer.

plaster holeJoe Provey

1. First, use a taping knife to scrape down all the peeled areas and dig out loose plaster from cracks. Run the edge of your taping knife along hairline cracks to widen them a bit. From past experience, I know this is the only way they'll have a chance to grab enough compound to disappear.

2. Brush a Quickrete concrete bonding adhesive at full strength over all of the areas you scraped. I'd had experience patching concrete and stabilizing old mortar joints using this milky liquid (ethylene polyvinyl acetate co-polymer) with great success, and noticed on the label that it was recommended for bonding plaster to plaster, too.

plasterJoe Provey

3. Once the adhesive is tacky, apply all-purpose joint compound with a taping knife, per the manufacturer's directions. You can also use patching plaster to make repairs like this, but premixed drywall compound is a lot more convenient and easier to sand.

4. When dry, lightly sand with a sanding sponge and apply a second coat. You can also use a clean taping knife to knock down (scrape smooth) bumps and ridges.

5. In areas where the cracks are deep, the plaster may need a third coat. (Note: Before using joint compound, check the label or maker's web site to be certain that it is recommended for use over plaster.) For my project, I chose USG's Sheetrock brand multi-purpose joint compound, which is fine for minor patching over plaster.

6. Before painting, coat all patched areas with a primer-sealer formulated for use over drywall compound.

As everyone who lives in an old house knows, the patches won't last forever. I'm hoping for at least a few years of a crack-free finish. Maintaining a reasonably consistent level of humidity in your home, combined with venting of kitchens, bathrooms and attics, will help reduce problems with plaster.

  • bharat rana

    how do i finish my drywall spakeling/

  • mike

    look to the right of video and there's a thumbnail of that video for drywall.. actually a good one...

  • charlie

    i hope you didnt get paid for this,, there are a lot better fixes,, and a lot cheaper

  • Siri

    How do you match the surrounding texture? The spray on textures come out too dense and lumpy. Any other good products?

  • RON

    No joint tape? Was a step inadvertently left out? Amazing! No joint tape = no long term fix and certainly will be noticeable until it cracks; which it will.

  • mike

    joint tape on plaster or concrete?

  • RON

    Step 5 says he used Sheetrock Multi Purpose Joint Compound to finish it up.

  • diane

    My mother-in-law had the best fix for old plaster walls ever. She had me do the plaster. Then take an old bed sheet and put it up as a sort of underlayment with wall paper paste. Then smooth it all out and either wall paper or paint. Those pesky cracks that kept returning never came back...ever. The sheet in one spot did have a small wrinkle...showing where the walls had flexed or something.

  • Joe

    Hello I own a drywall and Plaster co. and there are a few steps missing,1 step missing is secure both sides with plaster washers and 1"5/8 screws to pull the board back into the lathe or stud,then(step 2 forgotten) use either fiberglass mesh tape with an ez sand durabond (sets in 20,45,90 minutes)or paper joint tape with compound,also you need to wait till it dries before coating the paper tape or it will bubble,make sure you wipe excess mud from behind the tape and make sure there are no bare areas with no mud behind tape as that will bubble on recoat aswell,recoat lightly twice drying in between coats,if you only spot prime you will run the risk of flashing so you will need to primer the whole wall and paint the whole wall last advice hire a professional and do multiple areas to keep the cost down.. If your in Rhode island Call AJ Drywall and Plastering

  • Lori Hell

    Can I get paid to give advise? How lame!!!! Joe is right!!!

  • Rodger

    Patching cracks and holes in walls and make them blend in to the rest of the wall is not an easy task. I get paid big money for making the patches that people thnk they can do by themselves dissapear...

  • 11 Comments / 1 Pages

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