plaster ceiling


  #1  
Old 07-14-03, 11:41 PM
fitzirishcream
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Angry plaster ceiling

I am fairly new at this home repair thing, so pardon my ignorance!; I'm learning (but a quick learner!) I am helping my Mom do some repairs aorund the house that have needed to be done for some time now. The house--at best guesstimate--is about 60 years old. The living room ceiling was 'lowered' some years ago with 12'x12' tiles. the runners were nailed (with incorrect nails) and aligned horribly. The tiles started sagging, falling, etc. and that's where I come in. I removed the tiles and was going to remove the runners (as they too were falling out because of being not fixured correctly) but noticed that in many areas the plaster had either cracked or just fallen itself too. The problem is is that there is no lath that I have been reading about: the plaster was applied directly to the ceiling foundation (which is like a concrete-type material, but gritty.) 1) Is this a normal building technique and have you heard of it? and 2) how do I repair the cracks/missing plaster? Should I/can I replace it? Like I answered Mom, "I have no idea!"
Thank You!
 
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Old 07-15-03, 01:58 PM
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First remove any loose material. Go around and pry lightly with a stiff scraper. If anything is loose get rid of it. Fill in all the cracks and gaps with drywall mud. Let that dry. put mesh tape over all cracks and gaps. Then depending on how many cracks and voids you have, apply 2 fill coats and a top coat over the tape. If you have a lot you might want to skim over the entire ceiling. The good thing about plaster is you dont have to be really good because most likely it is pretty wavy to begin with.
 
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Old 07-15-03, 07:52 PM
fitzirishcream
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Thanks for the quick reply. Just so I know I have this right: use drywall mud to repair the areas where the plaster has just fallen, as well as the cracks. Let it dry, cover with mesh tape and apply 2 fill coats (which probably the entire ceiling needs to be done.) Correct? Two other things: one, any preferences on fill adn two (what could be a huge wrench): I mentioned the house is about 60 years old. How do I know if there isn't asbestos involved? (Any reason why--have you heard of--no lath behind the plaster?) Thanks for your response!
 
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Old 07-16-03, 06:10 AM
T
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Respectfully, Coop thinks like a drywaller and I think like a plasterer and we differ. Are you confusing the finish coat of plaster with the whole plaster coat? How thick is what you are taking off before you get to the gritty stuff? Maybe you are taking off whitecoat and leaving the brown coat. Indeed, if that is the case and if the brown coat is sound, drywall mud will work. It isn't the same material as what is up there but it will suffice and is more amateur friendly. But maybe your mom's house is some different kind of construction. Could you be looking at a poured concrete ceiling with some kind of smoother finish?
Rather than take down all the furing strips could you find joists if there be any and screw it back up tightly thereby tightening the plaster also. Or have you already taken the strips down. I sure wish we could see the message whe reply to while we do it.
Coop it right about the wavy ceiling. Plaster ceilings get that way in older buildings. Tell me a little more specifically what you have and I can be more specific in my advice, which afterall is worth what you are paying for it.
 
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Old 07-16-03, 08:32 AM
fitzirishcream
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Thanks for the additional reply. I have never seen or heard of a type of ceiling that I am dealing with. The furring/runners I was reffering to was only for the lowered ceiling to attach the 12" tiles (which was put up approximately 15-20 years ago, very shoddy job, mind you.) After taking down the tiles, I noticed that the furring strips created more damage to the plaster ceiling than time would have by itself: there are cracks along the runners, created holes where the nails were used, etc. Also, there are areas (as big as a 3"x3" area) where the plaster has just fallen. Upon further inspection, the plaster was attached directly to that concrete-like ceiling I reffered to--no plath, nothing--just this gritty concrete. Now, if I take the furring strips off, my fear is that half of the plaster will come with it. If I take the avenue you have suggested and find the joists, it limits what I can do with the ceiling (which is just put up another lowered ceiling), right?
 
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Old 07-16-03, 10:21 AM
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By how much was the ceiling lowered? The thickness of the strips plus tile or by a few inches? If by a few inches (or feet for that matter) how was it suspended? I am still not sure you don't have a conventional plaster ceiling. How deep is the 3" X 3" hole? 1/8"? 3/4"? How easy is it to remove the plaster? In other words how long would it take you to have it all scraped off? What kind of construction? If there are joists and a plaster ceiling there has to be lath up there somewhere. Maybe it is metal lath. That was rare in houses but not unheard of.
I think what you want are answers and I have asked more questions. So here are some ideas;
You could find the joists, screw the furring strips to them this will pull up the plaster and the strips. If the ceiling is terribly wavy or out of level you can shim the strips to straighten them. If the joists will support the weight you can put up and finish new drywall and have a brand new ceiling.
Maybe you can remove all that is there either to the concrete construction deck if that is your condition or to the joists if there are some and drywall directly to that. It is easier with joists it can be done over concrete.
If you have the head space you can frame up a new lowered ceiling and drywall that and have a brand new lowered ceiling.
Do a little exploratory surgery and see what you have to work with.
The gritty concrete could be a Portland cement plaster ceiling with a plaster finish. This would be rare on an interior. You need to see what you have to work with from the top down then decide what to do. It sounds like patching the plaster is not a good option because there are so many small patches and cracks and probabaly loose plaster. How easily does the plaster come off? How thick are the chips?
This is intriguing. I sure would like to know waht you have up there. Don't be afraid to get a little insistent to get a little deeper into the ceiling. Can you see the ceiling from above? Maybe that will give you a clue what you have.
In your initial post you mention asbestos. It is always possible in a house that age but not likely. The tile could have had asbestos also. OTOH is sounds like you might have some unique conditions so it might pay to have it checked and of course if there is asbestos then you have to decide hwo to deal with it.
Let us know waht you learn.
 
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Old 07-16-03, 02:51 PM
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Are you absolutely sure you don't have lath of some sort? My house is 62 years old and it has drywall lath. Drywall lath is 2'x8' stips of drywall with plaster over it. I grew up in the east but never heard of a concrete ceiling. Plaster can get pretty thick so definitely check further. Don't be afraid to cut something out. You have to repair the ceiling anyway right? Also push on the ceiling. If it is flexible and gives a lot you are in trouble. If it is solid and just chipping away then you are in luck. A 3"x3" hole is no problem.
Good luck.
 
 

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