Cracks in plaster...Acceptable???


Old 09-27-03, 11:16 AM
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Cracks in plaster...Acceptable???

Being a new, first time home owner, I've come to understand that cracks in plaster are common and just something to live with. The question is, what cracks are acceptable and what are signs of more problems?

I have many hairline cracks in my 50 year old house(about 15). Some of the cracks originate at doors and run up to and across the ceiling. Some run the ceiling parallel to others and some criss-cross (at about 90 degrees). None of these cracks are any wider than a millimeter. Some of the cracks run almost the entire length of a room. I can't ever seem to tell if any of them are bigger than when I first moved in but I could swear that there may be more than when I first moved in. I do have cracks in my basement walls that I've patched, I've never seen a new crack in my basement wall and none of the cracks in my basement have ever re-opened. I don't have a leak in my roof (as far as I can tell). Some rooms have more cracks than others. I don't see any sagging or bulging.

Overall, based on my description, do I have a problem or does this fall under the 'category' of normal plaster?


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Old 09-27-03, 12:18 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 1,752
I think the cracks are normal. The weather here in the K.C. area is so inconsitant that the cracks do get bigger and smaller. When it rains a lot the ground fills with water and actually moves your foundation. Same when it gets really dry. Sounds like the cracks in your house are consistant with plaster over drywall lath.
Old 09-27-03, 08:01 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
Aesthetically, do the cracks bother you? In a fifty year old house there will be some cracks. Somethings could have been done before plastering possibly to prevent or minmilize them. Maybe it was done and maybe not. I am guessing not. If it were my house I would be glad I had plaster and live with the cracks.
Old 09-27-03, 10:58 PM
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Thanks for the responses, to answer the question "Do cracks bother me?" -- only if they are structurally bad. I am just paranoid (but you both put my mind at ease a bit).

While we're talking plaster...what is the advantage to having it? I know it's hard and a bit more sound-proof, but are there any other benefits? Also, it was mentioned that I may have plater over a drywall lathe. I do have drywall behind my plaster (I checked inside one of my outlets). Why would it be done that way? I always thought that plater had wooden lathe behind it.

Thanks again for the responses.

Old 09-28-03, 05:41 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
Posts: 9,483
There was a 'transitional' period during which sheetrock was coming into its own. During this time the new product, gyprock, was used as a drywall lath for plaster installation. The panels were smaller, about 16"'x 32", and used as a replacement for the traditional wood lath. The walls in my house are plastered this way.

from :

"Gypsum Lath
"Gypsum lath consists of a core of gypsum plaster sandwiched between two sheets of fibrous, absorbent paper. Gypsum lath was invented in 1910, and in the 1930's, several variations, such as foil-backed, insulation, and perforated lath were developed. Gypsum lath is available in 3/8"or " thickness and comes in sheets 16"x 48".

"Gypsum Veneer Base
"Today most interior plaster work is a veneer gypsum plaster. Gypsum veneer base comes in 1/2" or 5/8" thickness and is available in plain or type "X". Which provides a higher degree of fire-resistance. These sheets are typically 48" wide and 96" long and have a special blue face paper, which produces a strong bond between the plaster and the veneer baseboard and provides more uniform suction for easier application of the veneer plaster."

Hope this helps.
Old 09-28-03, 05:22 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
Gypsum lath is an honest improvement over wood lath. Wood lath can burn; it has the restance of the gypsum plaster between it and the outside but will still burn. The plaster can be skinned off of wood lath. Wood lath are brittle and what passes for wood lath now days I think is not a good plaster base. Gypsum lath will not burn. It is almost impossible to separate the plaster from the lath.
Overall plaster is superior to drywall and plaster over gypsum lath is second only to plaster over metal lath for quality and durability.

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