Replacing plaster walls completely?


Old 06-20-06, 10:30 AM
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Replacing plaster walls completely?

My house was built in 1948 (post-war), but the builder still used plaster walls. I know that most contractors say that plaster walls are wonderful and sturdy and they're from the "good ol' days", however; my walls are UGLY. I don't know if it's simply because the walls are close to sixty years old or some other factor, but they are not smooth at all. They have bumps and rough areas all throughout the house.

I have thought (many times) about simply drywalling over the plaster. Is this a good idea? Is there another (relatively easy and inexpensive) way to smooth out the surfaces of my walls?

I'm so frustrated, but I would really like to avoid completely gutting the walls of my house.

Any advice is MUCH MUCH appreciated!

On a side note: Finding the studs behind this plaster is impossible. My studfinder won't pick up ANYTHING! I haven't been able to hang pictures or anything, because I'm afraid it won't be a good anchor. Any advice for finding the studs hiding behind my plaster walls?
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Old 06-20-06, 01:57 PM
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I would think that you would be able to scrape and then skim coat the walls to smooth them out. Laminating with 1/4" drywall is an option but you would need to remove any woodwork, modify it and reinstall. And ofcourse it would need to be attached to the studs.

Electrical boxes are usually installed to the studs. With the wall plate off and circuit turned off you can stick a screwdriver, nail or whatever along the box to see if you can locate a stud. Studs are usually at 16" intervals but I have seen old plaster houses that didn't have the studs at regular intervals.
Old 06-20-06, 04:38 PM
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In my line of work, I have had to contend with many houses that are even over 100 years old and had to redo the walls, in part or full areas of houses that are college rentals in the historic part of town. We generally overlay them with full 1/2 inch (on the ceilings, for sure, to hold up bad plaster.). 1/2 inch will cover all those bulges in the wall in a more forgiving way than thinner rock (because you can leave out sheetrock screws in areas that are undulated to keep the wall flat looking), and also will ensure fracturing plaster will stay put even if it is so bad it is ready to fall off.

BUT...1/4 inch can be used, and I have used it under decent circumstances.

Yes, old houses often don't have 16 inch centers. I think I have found the centers to be more like 18 inches....sometimes more.

If the best deep scan studfinder does not work, then you pretty much have to use a long thin trim nail and make holes every 1 1/2 inches apart until you hit one. Do this nailing under where you know a picture or mirror will cover them, when given this opportunity Then move over to 16 inches and try another nail, and if nothing, try about 18 inches, and go from there, to see what pattern they used. When you get near doors and windows the spacing could be anything in that vicinity. I never worry about riddling the wall with these thin hardened trim nails I use (2 1/2 inchers) because I have mastered wall repairs and teeny little holes is no issue for me. If you are fussy and want the integrity to be just like plaster, then fill the holes with Durobond hard setting joint compound...or just spackle them.

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