Repair plaster or hang drywall?


Old 02-20-06, 10:40 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Arrow Repair plaster or hang drywall?

I am desperately in need of help! We just bought a house & decided to replace the molding since it is VERY old and we were concerned with lead paint since we have a toddler & plan on having more children. Yesterday we tore down the old molding to find that most of the house (with the exception of a few additions) is plastered. Generally not a problem, but a lot of it cracked and/or crumbled when we took the molding off. We don't know whether to replace certain areas with drywall or have it fixed with plaster. We would definitely hire it out (because neither of us are THAT handy), but it seems that not many people do plaster anymore so we're concerned with it not coming out looking nice as a "repair". Then we thought since it seemed to crack/crumble so easily, maybe it's time to replace the plaster & we thought maybe drywall is a good option. But if we decided to hang drywall, does the entire wall need to be drywalled, or can we just replace a section of the wall?...and is that a good idea or a disaster waiting to happen? Cost is definitely an issue which is making our decision harder.
Please help...any advise you could give would be most appreciated!

I should've mentioned, the house was built in the late 1800's & we think that the plaster is from no later than 1930.

Last edited by Donna H; 02-20-06 at 10:54 AM. Reason: omitted detail
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Old 02-21-06, 06:10 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Kansas City
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You need to see how much of each wall is bad. Go around and push on the walls. If they feel weak and spongy you should replace. If the walls are sound then you can have it repaired. Even if you hire a drywall guy they should be able to make small repairs to your plaster and make it look good too. If half the wall is bad you should replace the whole wall. It will be cheaper and look better.
Old 02-21-06, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 51
I note your concern in the original post about lead paint becasue you have small kids. Be aware that what you want to do is messy, particularly if you start ripping out plaster. Not to be alarmist, but be aware there is a possibility for lead paint on the plaster walls as well (if they are painted of course) and that there is a (remote) possibility of asbestos in the plaster. You can have tests done for both, but even if the tests come back clean, there will be a lot of dust, and it is impossible to completely contain it to one room. With small kids, I would ensure that you have a contractor who knows how to and is willing to take very strong containment measures and if possible move your family out of the house for a few days.

We were in a similar situation and had some work done by a contractor who said he would be very careful, but we ended up with about ten pounds of old plaster fallen into the duct work and dust everywhere. He also ripped out some flooring which we didn't know was under another layer, and on later inspection, obviously contained asbestos, without informing us or taking any special precautions. Fortunately we were not living in the house, I cleaned up as best I could and there are no apparent ill health effects, but it taught me to be very aware of these issues.
Old 02-21-06, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 51
Before you proceed you might also want to consider some other issues around replacing plaster with drywall. You can read about them by doing a search in the walls and ceilings thread. There are some advantages to retaining plaster, but there are also some advantages to replacing it. A third option is to cover the plaster with drywall, but that too has its issues. Unofrtunatley there are very few "right" answers in maintaining or renovating an old house.

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