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Need emergency help with ceiling repair...

Need emergency help with ceiling repair...


Old 09-28-06, 05:30 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2
Exclamation Need emergency help with ceiling repair...

I'm currently living in a Spanish style house in southern California and our ceilings suffered major water damage from the tile roof leaking. We can't afford to fix the roof, but the ceilings have to be done. I went in to Lowe's with a chunk of ceiling for them to tell me what it was, because I knew it was not straight plaster. I had three different people tell me it was stucco, but one guy over the phone said stucco was too heavy for ceilings and it was probably lathe and plaster, which tends to look like stucco. Needless to say, I bought the stucco per the three that actually saw the material I had with me and tried to put it up. It didn't stick for nothing and all it did was fall right back down. The base that the "stucco" was attached to are wood slats spaced very close together with small gaps enough for the material to get into to hold on. I know you guys can't see the material, but hopefully you might know what I can use to repair these ceilings. Even if it comes right back down in a few months from water damage again, it's better than nothing. Someone thought it'd be funny to call child services on me with a false claim "dead leaves and branches" and now DCS riding me about the ceilings. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 09-29-06, 06:00 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 43,834
Welcome to the forums

I've heard some people call both plaster and drywall texture stucco. While it may look like stucco, stucco is a masonary product normally used on exteriors.

The wood slats are the lath that the plaster adheres to. I've never done any actual plastering. Unless mistaken I believe you first apply a brown coat to the lath and when dry the plaster goes over it. The stucco look is just a finish done with a trowel to get the desired look.

I don't know if this would be an option for you or not but I have repaired plaster by screwing drywall in the damaged area and then using durabond to finish it. You could then use joint compound to duplicate the texture.

There are several plasterers that frequent this forums so hopefully good plaster advice will follow shortly.

I understand about money being tight but the roof really needs to be addressed first. Is it possible to patch the leaky areas with either tar or caulking?
Old 09-29-06, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: St. Louis Missouri
Posts: 247
It sounds like you have a plaster/lath wall, probably finished with a texture (which is why everybody keeps calling it stucco). The original way the wall was plastered was in three steps, first applying a coat of plaster that had horsehair or wood shavings added to it. This coat is pushed onto the lath so that some extrudes thru the spaces in the lath. The horsehair helps hold it together. After that coat dries, a second coat of plaster is added to smooth out the wall. That coat is applied, then roughed up to provide a good bonding surface for the final coat. The second coat is called a "scratch" coat. The final coat is to fill in and smooth any imperfections and is intended to be very thin. In your case, that final coat was probably trowelled on, with some un-evenness intentionally left, and the high points knocked down.

In your case, I would suggest what marksr said he has done on occasion, filling the bulk of the area with a piece of sheetrock, then using sheetrock joint compound fill in between the plaster and the edges of the sheetrock, feathering the edges to blend in the patch. You will have to fill it, let it dry, then fill it again, as the joint compound will shrink somewhat as it dries. You can trowel the surface to match the surrounding area, then paint when dry. Good luck.
Old 09-29-06, 12:30 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2
Yeah the stucco that actually stayed up doesn't even remotely resemble the surrounding area... the stuff that I see looks like something you'd find outside and looks a lot like cement. As far as texture on the ceiling and wall, there is no texture... it's pretty well flat and smooth and has been painted and then wallpapered over the years.
I would love to be able to address the roof... but seeing as everyone we've called says we can't patch it and then proceeds to hand us a quote for something around the area of $17k to begin, I'm not sure what can be done. As far as me getting up on the roof to mess with stuff... I would just fall off.
I could do the sheetrock idea, except all of the areas that I would nail the drywall to are where the wood slats for the plaster have been nailed. I don't really think I want to pull down those slats to put up drywall.
I really appreciate the help and will try again with the ceiling. I'm sure you guys are the bees' knees, but I'm just a girl who's about as handy around the house as a newborn baby.
Old 09-29-06, 05:35 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 43,834
The drywall can be screwed into place. Wherever possible it would be best to use long screws that will secure it to the rafter/stud.
Old 09-29-06, 09:56 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
Don't waste a lot of effort on the ceiling until the roof is fixed. As long as the roof leaks the ceiling will only get worse. YOU MUST FIX THE ROOF. IT WON'T GET BETTER EITHER.
You must have gypsum plaster over wood lath. I can tell you how to fix it with plaster so it matches what remains. Someone else is going to tell you how to do it with drywall. And even though plaster is superior to drywall it is going to sound more complicated than it is and you will use drywall. For now just nail up or screw up some drywall and let it go don't even bother to tape it, because when it gets wet you will replace it. I can still tell you at that point how to do it with plaster. I am tuturoing a man in the LA area right now on plastering some rooms in his house because he wants to learn to do it the old way for his own satisfaction. I would be glad to tell you how to do it but I don't want you to waste the effort until the roof is fixed.
One thing maybe you can do is get a lot of plastic bucktets and put them in the attic under the drips to keep the lid from getting any worse. Maybe in the attic you can get enough evaproration that the buckets will never fill up so you won't have to empty them. I'm serious about this. Only thing is that where it drips this time might not be where it will drip the next time..

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