Plaster basics for homeowners in over their head?

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  1. #1
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    Default Plaster basics for homeowners in over their head?

    It seemed simple to me. Take a week to scrape and sand the surfaces of our poor, abused, hundred-year-old bathroom so we could paint it.
    Only the more we tried, and the more we researched, the more confused we got.
    The bathroom ceiling has multiple layers of paint (which do not love bonding to each other so the ceiling peels to different depths.)
    It has patches of SOMETHING which was never sanded and is just blobby and awful.
    It has a chalkyish layer under the paint. (I learned about "calcimine" today which seems to fit the bill but-)
    And the plaster is brownish-gray and incredibly rough, so it's impossible to scrape without nicking. Not that it nicks easily.

    Suddenly today I heard that it's possible the plaster I have is the undercoat? And that "normal" plaster might have a smoother top layer? This is our first house, and we only ever have really been in drywalled homes before this. Is there a place to read about what plaster is like? With pictures? I can put in the work if I know what work is necessary, but I'm not sure how to know if plaster needs a topcoat/sealcoat/primer/binder/varnish(Okay not varnish)/whathaveyou in order to put in the work to apply it.

  2. #2
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    ...cant answer you specific questions but have you considered just gutting the bathroom and re-sheeting? - cement sheet on the "wet" walls, dry wall plaster on the ceiling and other walls.

    I appreciate it possibly means having to do the shower, vanity and bath which would add some $ to the project. If it was just drywall plaster, is not that costly if you can gut it yourself and simply engage a handyman, chippy to hang and/or plaster to stop up and cornice as a cash job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bart1080 View Post
    ...cant answer you specific questions but have you considered just gutting the bathroom and re-sheeting? - cement sheet on the "wet" walls, dry wall plaster on the ceiling and other walls.

    I appreciate it possibly means having to do the shower, vanity and bath which would add some $ to the project. If it was just drywall plaster, is not that costly if you can gut it yourself and simply engage a handyman, chippy to hang and/or plaster to stop up and cornice as a cash job.
    I.... have so many more questions...

    We actually did strip the walls and put up sheetrock (and redid the shower and vanity) when we moved in, but have not done the ceiling because... it didn't seem like a priority? And now that you say it I realize that that might make it way easier, especially since preserving the plaster is not a priority in the bathroom. (I want to preserve the plaster in the majority of the house because it's still in good condition but the bathroom was so beat up.)

    What is "drywall plaster" and is that different from lath-and-plaster or sheetrock/drywall?

    "to hang and/or plaster to stop up and cornice"
    What does this mean, please?

  4. #4
    3K Club Member johnc's Avatar
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    Australian terms may be a bit confusing which will not help, Drywall is Sheetrock, lath and plaster is a term we also use here and means the same stuff. Is your ceiling lath and plaster, at 100yo it is about the transition point from lathe to hemp sheets.

  5. #5
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    Unless you r having a square set finish where the wall and ceiling meet to a to a flush right angle corner, generally a Cornice is put up (stuck on) to hide the gap. Google cornice and you will see what I mean

    Stop Up - is a term used to generally describe the taping and plastering of the joins, filling the screw holes etc.

    Oh, and from memory there is also a drywall/sheet rock produce to use instead of the cement sheet on the "wet" walls (where the shower backs onto) although personally prefer the cement sheeting.

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    hi AJoy Im also renovating a 100 year old home (in central NSW) and have read extensively on lime-based products. Im trying to do it in the original materials and to avoid introducing cement and plastics into my wall systems. To me, there is a magic and incredible strength in the natural materials, and it's much better for the building overall to maintain a breathable structure. I should add, my building is double brick, with handmade clay bricks, very porous. The walls are all brick with lime mortar and lime plaster, and in some cases calsomine paint. It's been a steep learning curve but Im now very confident in the 'correct' methods for this type of building, despite heavy pushback from the modern builders.

    anyhow enough of the context. Despite all of the above, I also ended up framing up my bathroom with batons and inserting a villaboard wall and ceiling to do everything else. To my mind the bathroom and kitchen are utility rooms and need to be functional above all eslse. Hanging vanities, installing plumbing and heating etc is too difficult on an original base. Also, I will be using bathroom paint for the ceiling and walls and so there is no point maintaining a breathable system here. But a powerful exhaust fan is paramount!

    Also, on the original walls Ive researched a breathable integrated system, so am using hydronic lime render (no cement) with local sand - works a treat. Original hardwall plaster - google CSR -lots of info in WA where double-brick houses are the norm. The main wall paint will be limewash, clay paint, or after the lime plaster has neutralised (in a few months) a breathable acrylic. Feel free to contact me for any more info

    a few links that may be useful:
    -tower lime in the UK
    - scottish lime
    Good luck and congratulations on having an old house to work on )

  7. #7
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    This is an Australia site and we refer to the same products as in the USA but with different names.

    Quote Originally Posted by AJoy View Post
    I.... have so many more questions...


    What is "drywall plaster" and is that different from lath-and-plaster or sheetrock/drywall?
    We typically call it Gyprock, even though Gyprock is a brand name we just refer to it all as Gyprock
    You guys call it sheetrock or drywall, it's basically a mixture of plaster enclosed between cardboard and sold in long flat lengths, same product as you have but different name.

    Quote Originally Posted by AJoy View Post
    "to hang and/or plaster to stop up and cornice"
    Hanging plaster means to install the gyprock sheets to the wall, via glue / screws

    Stop up means to apply base coat and top coat compounds to the joins to hide them, typically in the US the walls will then be "textured" or commonly referred to as "popcorn" to hide what is usually dodgy work done by the people installing the plaster .

    We don't texture our walls or ceilings, they are left smooth, IMO it looks more modern and heaps better than texturing them which looks outdated, like something from 1960.

    Cornice is the decorative plaster piece between the wall and ceiling, you guys call this crown molding, and yours is typically made from timber, ours is made from plaster as we inherited the English system and everything was made from plaster.

    Below are pics of the cornice, in basic and decorative form, and some rooms with smooth plaster, this keeps the walls and ceiling looking very modern and clean.





    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails classic_look_cmyk.jpg   cornice.jpg   plaster.jpg  
    Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJoy View Post
    It seemed simple to me. Take a week to scrape and sand the surfaces of our poor, abused, hundred-year-old bathroom so we could paint it.
    Only the more we tried, and the more we researched, the more confused we got.
    The bathroom ceiling has multiple layers of paint (which do not love bonding to each other so the ceiling peels to different depths.)
    It has patches of SOMETHING which was never sanded and is just blobby and awful.
    It has a chalkyish layer under the paint. (I learned about "calcimine" today which seems to fit the bill but-)
    And the plaster is brownish-gray and incredibly rough, so it's impossible to scrape without nicking. Not that it nicks easily.

    Suddenly today I heard that it's possible the plaster I have is the undercoat? And that "normal" plaster might have a smoother top layer? This is our first house, and we only ever have really been in drywalled homes before this. Is there a place to read about what plaster is like? With pictures? I can put in the work if I know what work is necessary, but I'm not sure how to know if plaster needs a topcoat/sealcoat/primer/binder/varnish(Okay not varnish)/whathaveyou in order to put in the work to apply it.
    Maybe I'm wrong but I would imagine that a house that is a 100 years old has hardwall plaster and not a sheet type plaster, ie sheetrock/drywall/gyprock.
    If there is Kalsomine paint it needs to be removed best that it can be, and if it the ceiling is hardwall type plaster would need a sealer applied before a undercoat from my understanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by METRIX View Post
    This is an Australia site and we refer to the same products as in the USA but with different names.

    Stop up means to apply base coat and top coat compounds to the joins to hide them, typically in the US the walls will then be "textured" or commonly referred to as "popcorn" to hide what is usually dodgy work done by the people installing the plaster .

    We don't texture our walls or ceilings, they are left smooth, IMO it looks more modern and heaps better than texturing them which looks outdated, like something from 1960.
    Holy cats... Thank you everyone for your replies.

    This is an Australian site? What am I doing in here? Panicking, obviously, and being so lost I ended up on the other side of the world.

    I hate popcorn also and have *that* to contend with on other ceilings, but not this one. But the plaster (Yes, it's lath and not hemp sheets) is the texture of concrete. It's not smooth and lovely like in your images. Is it not supposed to be?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJoy View Post
    Holy cats... Thank you everyone for your replies.

    This is an Australian site? What am I doing in here? Panicking, obviously, and being so lost I ended up on the other side of the world.

    I hate popcorn also and have *that* to contend with on other ceilings, but not this one. But the plaster (Yes, it's lath and not hemp sheets) is the texture of concrete. It's not smooth and lovely like in your images. Is it not supposed to be?
    If you can upload a couple photos to this forum directly , it would be useful for someone to possibly identify.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJoy View Post
    Holy cats... Thank you everyone for your replies.

    This is an Australian site? What am I doing in here? Panicking, obviously, and being so lost I ended up on the other side of the world.
    Probably not a bad place to end up, given the current situation in the world at the moment
    Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

  12. #12
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    Like others have said, I think you're better off ripping off the existing "drywall" and fitting new waterproof drywall instead.
    Old drywall covered in goodness knows what is a pain to work with, even for a pro.

    If you're new to mudding, then check out a youtuber called "Vancouver carpenter" - he does some very in depth videos that are specifically targeted at first timers. I haven't found a more helpful youtuber when it comes to plastering/drywall.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caJO...zu1TxvCl-IDro4

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