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Replastering Old Horsehair/lathe Wall - Advice Needed

Replastering Old Horsehair/lathe Wall - Advice Needed

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  #1  
Old 04-21-10, 10:27 AM
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Replastering Old Horsehair/lathe Wall - Advice Needed

Hello everyone. I live in a 1900 colonial and could use your advice. Every wall in the house is horsehair plaster and lathe. All the walls are covered with wallpaper. The wallpaper is in rough shape (scratched, worn, etc) and needs to be removed.

My wife and I hate wallpaper and we really want to paint the walls. After taking off some of the wallpaper to expose the original horsehair plaster, it was obvious that there are a few steps needed before we can paint.

The existing plaster is pretty rough textured. My guess is that the original builders never intended for the surface to be painted, just wallpapered. I imagine that we are going to need some sort of coating put over the existing plaster before the surface is paintable. Which leads to a few questions.

1. Is it possible to coat the existing horsehair plaster with a substance that will provide a smooth paintable surface?
2. If the answer the #1 is yes, what is that product and process called.
3. What type of professional would provide this service?
4. What is the general cost for this...say compared to finishing drywall?

My first thoughts were to gut the walls and start from scratch but I imagine that would be more of a headache than its worth. I've removed horsehair plaster before.....not fun. Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 04-21-10, 11:00 AM
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I sure wish I knew what you meant by saying the texture of the walls is rough.
Can you show us a picture that shows the texture? Sometimes side lighting helps show a texture.

Now have the walls ever been painted?

If not it is entirely possible to refinish the walls. I did this once in a house not that old. The walls had never been painted. I applied a coat of veneer plaster basecoat with a new veneer plaster smooth finish. Like glass smooth. This can be done but it is not a job for amateurs.

If you intend to do this yourself you should use joint compound and be prepared to sand it.

There is another option: There is a material called Nu-Wall. Google it. It is a fiberglass scrim mat that is embedded in some high powered acrylic material. It will give you a nice wall but every ding and dent in the wall will still show through it.

Now if the walls have been painted and if the paint is not kalsomine, which washes off pretty easily, you can apply a liquid bonding agent and then plaster over that as I described above. This works well and it done all over the country BUT the bond is only as good as the bond of the paint. If the paint ever lets go the new plaster will come loose as well.

If you intend to do this yourself probably go with joint compound over what is there and be prepared to sand some. There must be dozens of posts here that tell you how to do it. I like to put on a coat of setting type joint compound and then if it needs another coat use topping for it sands more easily.

By the way, those little sticks that hold the plaster are called lath not lathes.

Don't rule out tearing off some of the plaster. You can add new or better insulation and update the plumbing and wiring.

As a rule I discourage removing plaster. I like it better but sometimes you should in order to do mote of what needs done.

And remember this.

Whole houses have been remodeled because someone wanted to change a light fixture.

Whatever you do or have done, make sure to use lead safe work practices.
 
  #3  
Old 04-21-10, 11:22 AM
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Thanks for the reply! First things first....no way do I intend to do this work on my own. I'm pretty good at carpentry, marginal at drywalling...but I'm not even going to attempt playing with plaster.

From what wallpaper I've taken off, there is no paint underneath, just plain old plaster. Its hard to describe the texture....but if I had to I'd call it a concrete-like texture, with a feel somewhere between brushed concrete (like a walkway) and orange peel textured drywall. Does that make any sense? There are also the 110 years of nicks and dings that need attention as well.

There is already blown-in insulation inside the walls. Since we are trying to keep the cost down I can't justify the cost of new insulation, new drywall, taping+mudding of the drywall, the cost of dumpster, etc. Not too mention the aggrevation and mess involved with ripping out old plaster.
 
  #4  
Old 04-21-10, 12:49 PM
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It's possible that the existing plaster is a brown coat with no finish or it could be a sand float finish. If there is no paint on this then "id say give it a good cleaning, that is brush it down with a good short,stiff bristle brush or maybe even a wire brush and if you get into the plaster a little that is fine then have a plasterer give it a smooth plaster finish.

He will balk at it a little because it is so dry. A plasterer will, however be able to do it. He might want to apply a bonding agent to the walls. This won't hurt a thing. It might help and it will make it a little easier on him by killing some of the suction.

Let us know what you settle on and how it goes.
 
  #5  
Old 04-21-10, 02:40 PM
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It will probably be a little while before this whole project is underway. By the way, where would I look in the yellow pages for these plastering pros? Would it be under Plastering? Do drywall companies typically do this stuff or is plastering an entirely different field?

Here are some pics of a piece of plaster. All of these pics are of the same spot, I've just changed up the lighting to give you some different perspectives. Most of the plaster in the house is in this shape. Sorry in advance for the size!




 

Last edited by BigOldXJ; 04-21-10 at 02:59 PM.
  #6  
Old 04-22-10, 06:14 AM
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I know exactly what you are talking about I went through the same thing in a 180 year old
 
  #7  
Old 04-22-10, 06:17 AM
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I know exactly what you are talking about I went through the same thing in a 180 year old house. Every room was wall papered and it had never been painted! In the picture the wall to the right, the completed wall, looks white and the one in front is still brown. I used joint compound on all the walls and they came out perfect. I used a 12" knife and put the compound on as thin as I could get it by pressing the blade and pulling it down building it up with two or three layers. The final layer was sanded and then primed. I would have called a plaster in but I didn't want to pay thousands to get the job done. Each room took two days to do but not two full days.
bBbefore3.jpg picture by mgmine - Photobucket
 
  #8  
Old 04-23-10, 05:04 PM
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plaster

I think you need a good plasterer, but they are hard to find. Some painters can do this, but you'd want to see their work first hand to make sure. I would talk to other people in your area or perhaps to folks at a good local hardware store to see who they can recommend. One note, perhaps the person can show you how to do plaster repair, as this will be a skill you absolutely will need off and on. I learned from someone and it has been invaluable. I don't reconstruct whole walls, but can do a good job fixing large cracks.

Here's a good primer on repairing plaster ceilings, should you ever need it. (ha ha...of course you will eventually).

Good luck!
 

Last edited by Shadeladie; 04-23-10 at 06:01 PM. Reason: Link removed.
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