Plaster in bathroom


Old 10-14-02, 12:07 PM
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Plaster in bathroom

Hi. I recently bought an older (1920s) house. The walls are all old horsehair plaster. There's a skylight in the bathroom, also plaster-covered, and that plaster has been falling down since before I moved in. I'm not sure how much of it is due to some leaks in the roof (since repaired) and how much is due to steam from the shower, but at any rate I've fixed the roof and resealed the outside of the skylight and I'm still having plaster fall down--there's one section that's probably almost a foot long where all the plaster's fallen off. Of course I want to repair it, but wanted to get some advice on how to do so. Basically, what I want to know is if I should patch the plaster, or if it's just going to fall down again because of the steam. And if I shouldn't patch the plaster, what should I use to line the skylight? Oh, and here's the other thing: The skylight's got a slight bell-shaped curve to it, so lining it with something straight and rigid like drywall could be tricky.

Sorry if this question is a little disjointed; I'm new at all this home repair stuff. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
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Old 10-23-02, 09:34 PM
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I don't think its the steam. Think about it: there's not a 1920's era bathroom that would have a ceiling if steam would bring it down.

I've been experimenting with wet plaster repair in my house with encouraging results. I'm probably doing it wrong - but... Go to the library and find an old book on plastering. If it talks about using dry wall for plaster repairs, the book may npot be old enough.

I apply three layers: 1) scratch coat (plaster of paris, sand, and chopped sisal fibre (horse hair would be better?)). This sets rapidly, and I don't know what to use as a retarder. 2) brown coat: same formula but without the hair. 3) finish coat (lime putty, some plaster of paris).

The stuff is holding up. The tricky part is applying it before it starts to set without a retarder (what do they use that's economical?). Another tricky part is getting the texture right. Dead smooth is the easiest. matching pebbly surfaces can be done with sand in the finish mix, or with a smonge rubber float. Experiment.

I use "plaster sand", a specific sieving of sand from a landscape supply yard. They also have a "mason sand" which I think is a bit coarser. Nothing you can buy at Home Depot is close.

I like using the wet stuff because you smush it into place, you don't have to cut it in, its more in keeping with the texture of the house, and it doesn't melt when watter gets on the surface like dry wall mud does.

Good luck,
Able Sashweight
Old 11-01-02, 01:26 PM
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Wow, thanks for the great advice! Will put it into practice... just as soon as I finish fixing the toilet. (Bathrooms, sheesh...) Seriously, thanks very much.
Old 11-05-02, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
Posts: 9,483
The moisture still may be a culprit. It may be worth installing an adequately sized ventilator fan in the bathroom. No matter how the houses were built in 1920, we have made them tighter than they were and bathe more frequently than was typical back then.

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