Sheetrock vs. Plaster

Old 11-08-02, 09:45 AM
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Question Sheetrock vs. Plaster

I'm confused. My house was built in 1938. The plaster walls in the upstairs bedrooms were covered with panelling by the previous owner. After we bought the house I ripped off the paneling and (in two of the rooms) the furring strips which were nailed into the walls. There are some cracks and some holes of various sizes in the walls (including a 3x4 ft. area in one corner near the ceiling that is crumbling due to water damage).

I've contacted several contractors about repairing the walls and have gotten differing opinions as to what to do. One recommends replastering the walls. Another would put sheetrock directly over the plaster. Still another would put up the sheet rock using furring strips. Yet another recommends ripping out the plaster walls altogther and attaching the sheetrock to the wall studs. In this way, he says you can address other issues at the same time, such as the electrical wiring/outlets, insulation, lighting, etc. (which sounds like it could get expensive).

The plasterer says he can do all three bedrooms and the hallway for about $1,200. The sheetrockers are charging about $4,000 and up. I would prefer to replaster since I won't lose any depth from the original natural wood moulding around the doors and baseboard trim, or have to remove (and risk possible damage) and replace the trim (and then have to adjust the depth of the door bucks). I'm just not sure how long a replastering job can be expected to last, and whether the plaster will start crumbing if I try to hammer a nail into the wall to hang pictures, etc.

My thought is to replaster since even if I had to replaster again in several years it still will have cost me less than sheetrocking, and if at some point if I decide that I don't like the way the plaster walls are holding up, I could always sheetrock them then.

What do you think?
Old 11-08-02, 09:56 AM
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I would re-plaster in this case. It is more durable than sheetrock anyway.
Never drive nails in plaster. Drill a hole into a stud or use butterfly bolts.
Just my two cents.
Good Luck!
Old 11-08-02, 06:17 PM
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My house was built in 1939 and the plaster is still going strong. I would go with the plaster.
Old 11-09-02, 08:33 AM
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Keep in mind that sheetrock wasn't invented to be better than plaster... it was invented to be faster than plaster and so any monkey with a screw gun (or a hammer in the old days) could finish out a room in the building boom of 1950's/60s suburbia.

Plaster is superior is many ways. It is stronger (if properly mixed), it is denser and therefore kills sound transmission from room-to-room better and if properly done it comes out flat as a mirror. Hit a plaster wall with a hard object and chances are the object will break ;-) while sheetrock will show a nice ding.

Then again I ripped out much of the plaster in my house and went with sheetrock because I had to get into the wall cavities to replace plumbing, electrical and insulation. The quotes I got for plaster work were much (about 4x) higher than yours so I put on my monkey hat and slapped up sheetrock myself. But if I had the money I would have gone with new lath (wood... not hole-board or wire)and plaster.

If your outside walls aren't insulated (which in a 1930's build they might not be), then you would be well served to insulate the walls before patching them up. You can have insulation sprayed into the stud cavities through a 4" or so hole in each cavity. In the long run it will pay for itself.
Old 11-09-02, 09:05 AM
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hi -
i seem to have the same scenario on my home, which is a bit older and was build in the 1880s. I've had a number of rooms re-plastered professionally in my home and they have worked out very well. After pulling off some paneling and stripping off the wallpaper in my living room, however, I'm noticing in a couple areas where the plaster has some give to it when I apply pressure.

It looks like it isn't as attached to the lath as other areas of the wall, although it certainly isn't to the point where it is falling off.

Would it make sense to cut out these areas and patch them with drywall, then plaster the entire wall? Or, would simply re-plastering the entire wall be enough?

thank you.
Old 11-10-02, 09:49 AM
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$1,200.00 I'd jump on that, That is rather cheap 4 rooms!!!! is he re glazing everything for that price.

or is he just repairing certain areas?
Old 11-11-02, 09:07 AM
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Well, since my last post I got another estimate to replaster the 3 bedrooms and hallway of (hold onto your wallet/pocketbook) $11,500. After picking myself back up from the floor, I decided to ask the guy who quoted me a price of $1,200 over the phone to come in to take a look at the job. Well, of course, after looking at the rooms the price went up to approx. $3,000 (even though I gave him a pretty accurate description of what needed to be done over the phone). Nevertheless, he talked me into letting him do one room right then and there so that I could see the quality of his work for myself. For that room (8-1/2 x 12 ft.) he charged me $757. There was one small hole (1 x 1 ft.) that needed to be repaired, numerous small holes, and some cracks in the walls. He repaired the hole with a sheetrock patch. He also filled in a 1" gap around the perimeter of the ceiling where the sheetrock ended before meeting the wall. He did this by taping it with Sheetrock lightweight (20 minute set) joint compound mix. He also used this mix to skim coat the walls. The cost breakdown was as follows:

Tape around ceiling = 250
Spackle closet = 50
Skim coat walls = 300
Repair hole = 50
Materials = 50
Tax = 57.75

Total = 757.75

When the job was finished it was dark out so I couldn't get a real good idea of the quality of the work. The next day I looked at it and although it generally came out good, there were a few areas that looked like they could use a little more attention (e.g., the corners and lines where the walls meet the ceiling).

Anyway, I have since gotten another estimate for the remaining 3 bedrooms (one of which requires only minor touch up and finishing) and hallway for $8,150. Even though the guy I used was much cheper than the other two guys, I still feel that for the amount of materials he used (a few bags of joint compound and water) and the work he and his helper did (basically just skim coating, not really what I would call plastering), he overcharged me.

It seems clear to me now that the guys who gave me the $11,500 and $8,150 quotes do higher quality work then the $3,000 quote guy. The higher priced estimates include much more work than the lower priced guy provided. The higher priced guys would do: (1) wall prep (remove loose material, spackle, sand, caulk and prime, as needed); and (2) Oil prime all surfaces, repair all holes, skim coat 3x, sand, prime, touch-up, spot prime. They also use a variety of products (e.g., Structo-lite, wire lath) to perform the work based on the condition of the existing plaster.

The guy I used did not oil prime the walls before or after he skim coated them.

The bottom line, I guess, is that you get what you pay for! I could probably get a much more professional and longer lasting plaster job from the high end guys, but at a significantly higher cost. I am actually now leaning toward sheetrocking the remaining rooms (which I can probably do for about 1/4 the cost of the higher quality plasering, since I found a guy who can do it for about $2,100) instead of settling for lower quality "plaster" work.

Any further thoughts would be appreciated.
Old 11-11-02, 09:26 AM
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that sounds much more realistic. I was a little worried about the original estimate.

Watch out for shettrockers as well. I know I said in an eariler post that sheetrock was created so any monkey could finish out a room but as you know there are many species of monkey.

Make sure you get NEAT installation... 5/8" thick on the walls and at least 1/2" on the ceiling. Make sure any cutouts (outlets,swithces, etc...) are neatly cut out to the proper size and slip over the outlet box evenly and nicely. A good rocker will never have to mud around a cutout because he over-cut the opening.

Once your board is up, make sure you get three coats of mud on all the seams. Here again, a good mudder will hardly need to sand at all after the third feathercoat of mud.

Tell them up front that you want your walls *FLAT*. With an old house the 2x's in the wall will surely be uneven. Some guys will just slap board on them and go to town. You end up with a wavey wall. If you tell them you won't pay for walls that are not flat as mirrors in advance, you'll have some recourse when they tell you "It's the best we could do with this uneven framing."

Don't mean to rain on your parade but you've already found one questionable contractor... there are plenty more out there... and some do sheetrock ;-)
Old 11-11-02, 04:30 PM
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That Estimate is very accurate 'cause I charge $750.00 per room.

When I seen $1,200.00 for Everything I knew something wasn't quite right.
Old 11-18-02, 11:10 AM
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Since pricing is being discussed.... What is a fair price for labor to hang and finish 24 sheets of drywall in a basement? I am located in Toledo, OH. There are a fair number of cuts and corner bead due to drywalling over HVAC duct work. I was told it would cost $2000.

Thanks in advance!

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