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Stucco INSIDE my house??? WTH???


kyocius's Avatar
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05-11-08, 05:41 PM   #1  
Stucco INSIDE my house??? WTH???

Maybe there is someone out there that has some insight. Our home was built in 1949. We absolutely have to pull down the walls in the bathroom because of mold (there was never an exhaust fan installed... but there will be soon!). Well, I didn't expect this to be easy. I've seen what happens when you pull older homes apart. BUT I have NEVER seen anything like this. My poor husband....

Base layer is 16" wide sheets of 3/8" sheetrock of some sort (its papered). Next, is wire mesh with about 1/2" of stucco adhered to it... no this is not plaster (not by a long shot). Then, (yes, there's more) about 1/8" of what looks like spackle to smooth out the walls (its stark white in color).

Now, my husband has to rip all this down (its on the ceiling too by the way). Oh I forgot to mention, the base layer of sheetrock has been thoroughly glued (along with the screws) to the studs. We cannot sledge hammer through this because we are taking down only one side of the walls. It comes down in chunks at first, then there's the mesh (and its some serious mesh let me tell you), and the glued and screwed sheetrock.

Has anyone ever dealt with this type of construction??? Demolition in our case actually. And figured out an efficient timely matter to get it down??? We only have this one bathroom and everything needs to be replaced. I can't for the life of me figure out why someone would put up walls like this. Were they absolutely insane? At this point, if the previous homeowner wasn't already deceased, well, I think you get the point....

 
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05-11-08, 06:02 PM   #2  
Out in my area is 3/8 inch of drywall pieces like yours but is called drywall lathe. Then about 1/2 inch of rough hard coating called the base coat. Then the 1/8 white stuff is the smooth plaster. Sounds like you have plaster walls. The entire thickness is around 7/8 to 1 inch thick. The wire mesh is used at the seams of the drywall lathe if I am correct. This is tough stuff to remove. But hammer and chisel is all you can do. I work with repairs on this stuff all the time.

There should be a few plaster guys chiming in to help you.

 
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05-11-08, 09:07 PM   #3  
What you have is actually quite common.
It's cement. Yes, in bathrooms and wet areas they'd use actual CEMENT instead of plaster. The old gypsum board is actually what they used for lathe, and the wire mesh is a sign they knew what they were doing and wanted it to last.
The white coat is plaster.

But the FASTEST way to tear it all down? A Sawzall. A reciprocating saw with a good Bi-Metal demolition blade. Locate the studs and starting at the botton just saw straight up the walls right inbetween the studs. Don't cut the studs! Once you've turned your walls into little narrow strips, the debris should just pull away from the wall... but you might need a 4' demolition bar to -nudge- it along. The old glue and screws at this point -should- just break away.
You'll also need several blades, the cement and wire mesh with wear them down fast, and nothing is worse than a hot and dulled sawzall blade.
Just be carefull not to cut through any wires hidden in the walls.

I don't envy you, it's a lot of hard messy work to get that old boarding down. But cutting it up makes it far easier to get out than pounding on your walls.

 
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05-12-08, 04:24 AM   #4  
Thank you so much. Thank goodness this bathroom is pretty small because he went through 5 "metal" sawzall blades yesterday and that was just the area around the door (the mesh was wrapped around all the corners and we decided to "start things along" by removing the door first). I dont think he even thought to cut vertically in between studs... its a great idea and I really can't wait to tell him about it. I'll tell him about the bi-metal blades too incase they are different than the ones he had (I think they were supposed to be for 3/8" metal). I am so terrified of this project that HAS to be done.... he was finishing tearing off some baseboard yesterday and nudged the toilet water supply by accident (its all cpvc)... it was lucky that I was in the basement while he was doing this because for some reason at the first elbow junction (about 20" away from where he hit it) the pipe just snapped and there was a wonderful fountain of water being sprayed all over my workroom. I was able to get to the shutoff valve with only about 10 towels worth of water... (I guess that part was lucky because it could have easily turned into a HUGE disaster). Lesson number 2... turn off ALLLLLLLLLL water to bathroom regardless until demo is done for the day (and maybe I should rerun all the plumbing now because I don't think it should have snapped like that).

 
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05-12-08, 07:43 AM   #5  
The finish coat on top of the Cement would most likely be White Keene's cement mixed with lime & Silica Sand. If it was a fine sandy looking finish then it was....It would be applyed the next day when the cement was still wet but set.

I would do 1 section at a time in between studs like he mentioned. I would start at the top instead and work your way down, cutting across every 2 pieces or 32'' of rock lathe. Its very heavy so be careful.

I would also be wear a breatheing mask and safety goggles.

 
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05-12-08, 10:20 AM   #6  
I would have left it. you won't find any
better construction than what you have.

The finish was not Keenes cement. It won't work. I know from experience. It was probably plaster of some other kind over Portland cement plaster. Nothing better. Too bad it's gone.
It would have been easy to sanitize this and ventilate the room and be as good as new.

Oh well, what's done is done. Since you went to all that trouble getting it off be sure to replace any wiring and plumbing while you are in there and upgrade the insulation. Your walls will not be as sound proof as before you might want to insulate all the walls.

FWIW, the cement plaster walls would have been a superior tile substrate also.

I would never tear out a wall like this for what I get for putting it on.

 
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05-12-08, 11:27 AM   #7  
Tightcoat. There seemed to be about 3 layers of paint with wallpaper and the mold was ridiculous. There is no insulation under any of this, nor on the outside walls from what we can tell. The outside of our home is stucco as well, as well as the rest of the walls inside (or cement). With a new baby on the way (our first) we really wanted to make sure it was all good and gone. I promise we'll leave the rest!!!!

 
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05-12-08, 08:44 PM   #8  
Cement over the drywall lathe?? You do learn something new everyday!! I have never seen this around here. I have seen this on floors, but not on walls. Would a sledge hammer work?

screwloose....why would they substitute the rough plaster with cement? The 7/8 inch walls around here made from drywall lathe, rough, smooth plaster is rock solid. Around here this is the best walls I have worked with.

 
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05-12-08, 08:55 PM   #9  
Portland cement plaster can withstand the moist environment of a bathroom. It can also withstand the exterior exposure to the elements. On the outside of the house we call it stucco on the inside it's Portland cement plaster. The lath (not lathe) is gypsum lath. It was made to plaster over with gypsum plaster. Often if it were behind Portland cement plaster there would be a course of black building paper or felt between the plaster and lath.
I would imagine that the rest of the house is plastered with gypsum plaster which as nagra says is a very good system and it won't be quite as hard as the Portland cement plaster.

 
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05-13-08, 04:08 PM   #10  
Well. We ripped the walls down today after work (except for the shower part and behing the toilet...did I mention this is our only bathroom?) There is no insulation because the structure of our home is all block up to the second story which is just a walk up attic right now. Is this good or bad in any way???

 
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05-13-08, 04:38 PM   #11  
So are any of the bathroom walls exterior walls?
What part of the country are you in?
You still might want to insulate for sound proofing. Maybe not everyone is as sensitive to bathroom noises as I am.
Out or curiosity, is the mesh you refer to woven wire 17 ga.
http://www.wiremesh.net/wiremesh/hex...irenetting.htm

mesh or woven wire 20 ga. mesh or expanded metal lath

http://www.cemcosteel.com/uploads/images/regular/6.jpg
Or could it be rib lath?
http://www.marinoware.com/Images/Pro...h/rib_lath.gif
http://www.topfix.co.uk/images/produ...riblathing.jpg

 
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05-13-08, 05:04 PM   #12  
One wall is exterior and thats how we found out what our main structure is. We are in NJ of all places to have a block house. I know it was built in 1949. I don't know if we are going to insulate the interior walls or not... I've never noticed noises before and this house is small. The mesh ended up being only at the corners thank goodness and it looks like the second link you put up. The holes were pretty small (3/8" or so) and the wire part very thick, flat, heavy and black in color.

 
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05-13-08, 10:12 PM   #13  
I revise my first guess.
I think what you have is typical gypsum plaster over gypsum lath. It was called RockLath even though that was a brand name by USG and other companies made competing products. The finish could have been Keene's cement.

I doubt that this was Portland cement plaster because I don't think Portland would have provided an adequate bond with the gypsum lath. The metal angle reinforcement was very typical of plaster of that vintage.

This is too good to sacrifice in the rest of the house.

Was the material on the block a different material than on the lath?
Blocks make a good plaster base but it also makes a good stucco or Portland cement plaster base.

 
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05-14-08, 04:17 AM   #14  
The blocks have nailers attached to them and then the same rocklath, cement/plaster, and plaster over it as the rest of the interior walls. Nothing was plastered directly to the blocks (thank goodness). I was just surprised to see them under there to be honest. I guess it makes sense since there's so much weight everywhere. I wouldn't touch another wall in this house if I had to. My husband wanted to tear them down when we first moved in because there are some imperfections obviously from being older... nothing major, just being able to see a few seams here or there when the light hits it just right. I wouldn't let him because I KNEW it was going to be something crazy. He's thanking me for it now. They must have done a very good job because after 60 years there are no cracks anywhere to be found.

Off topic but, the exterior exterior of our house is stucco with a brick pattern cut into it. It was done to absolute perfection. We had to repair one small section because the finish coat with the brick pattern had fallen off when they put a sewer line in (i don't think the finish coat adhered too well to the base coat in that area). I have no idea how the base coat of that was put on because that was still intact, and I never plan on finding out unless we take a couple of the windows out of the kitchen and can see from the side. My hub wanted to replace the outside too with vinyl (now he knows better). A nice fresh coat of paint will do fine for me thank you very much. Thanks again for all your help and info. I really appreciate it.

 
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05-23-08, 06:34 PM   #15  
As the pros were all speculating on what the material was that you were tearing out, I kept wondering if any of it had asbestos. Did you happen to have any of it checked for asbestos? Compared to the health effects of the mold, you may have exposed yourself and the baby to something much worse. Not to mention that the paint coats on there were almost certainly lead based.

 
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05-23-08, 11:00 PM   #16  
I torn out my tub/shower surround in the bathroom of my house (montana) which was built in 1953. I did this in order to replace it with tile. There was obviously tile originally and and still had the tile adhesive so a good surface for tiling may be difficult. To my surprise, the walls are exactly the material and layers that you described. The first layer is the typical gypsum layer (sheetrock) with paper layer. The mesh is very much like the www.cemcosteel.com link that tightcoat listed. The mesh is a flat wire that is similar gauge and was located only from the top of the tub to about 8" above the tub and in the corners. The "stucco" layer that I have has specks or chucks of rock, metal, fiberglass, or some other reflective type material throughout. Is this consistent with stucco? I also am afraid of asbestos. I think I will have it inspected or at least tested prior to continuing. This seems to be typical building practice for that time period and they sure knew how to build things back then. One question. Will tile adhere properly if I just remove the old material (adhesive) and smooth and fill the "stucco" layer? This would save a lot of work.

 
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05-24-08, 08:37 AM   #17  
Plasterers are notorious for doctoring up the mix to improve workability or some property of strength and hardness. There could indeed be asbestos in the material but I would think that it would be so well incapulated in the mortr that it would not be too harmful, that is no worse than the cement dust.
Now about the tile surface: Is the old adhesive mastic or mortar? Either way an aggressive removal should leave a surface ready to tile. By agressive I mean take a little of the cement plaster with it. Now to even out the surface don't use joint compound or something like it. Use some thinset mortar or something else as impevious to the moisture as the Portland cement plaster. Ask this on a tile forum to fine tune the advice

 
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