How can I repair a cove ceiling?


Old 09-25-04, 09:51 AM
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How can I repair a cove ceiling?

My husband and I just purchased our first home which is a genuine fixer-upper. After years of improving other people's homes we get to to this for ourselves. I've done quite a bit of framing, sheet rocking, mudding and reapiring walls off all stripes, but have not had the opportuinity to work on a cove ceiling, so here goes.

There was quite a bit of water damage to the button board walls in our large bedroom closet which also effected the corner and wall in an adjoining bedroom. We had to rip out all of the sheeting material in both areas because of mold and disintigration. Which has left me with a corner and adjoining 4 feet of cove that needs to be repaired. I've sheetrocked up to this point, but am a bit stumped as how to preceed. It appears the original cove was created out of wire mesh, scratch coat and plaster.

Any suggestions about how to go about this repair?
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Old 09-25-04, 04:58 PM
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Cove repairs

This project may require a professional. Some plasterers specialize in cove repairs.
Old 09-25-04, 08:09 PM
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Is the "4ft", 4 lineal ft., or the length of the surface of the cove?
What remains of the cove?
Are the corbels still there, was the cove "free formed with the wire mesh, or was there wood lathe forming the radius and metal lathe placed over and used as a strengthener?
Old 09-25-04, 09:36 PM
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"Is the "4ft", 4 lineal ft., or the length of the surface of the cove?"
We've taken out a 4 ft section of wall starting at the corner from the floor to the top of the cove.
"What remains of the cove?"
Just a small amount at the top of the arch. The arch of the cove is approximately 6" (maybe smaller)
"Are the corbels still there"
No, there are no corbels.
"was the cove free formed with the wire mesh"
Yes, the cove was free formed with the wire mesh. There is no lathe, metal or wood, as the walls are button board.
Old 09-26-04, 08:51 AM
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[QUOTE=artschwager There is no lathe, metal or wood, as the walls are button board.[/QUOTE]

Lathe: Spaced wood strips nailed to the framing members with random joints.
Button board attached to the framing members with blue coated nails.
Plaster board, button board without the holes.
Blue board, a 4x substrate for plaster.

Metal lathe is generally used in small areas as a bridging device and similar to the function of fiberglass tape in drywall.

Depending upon your confidence in your ability's, you can recreate the cove using metal lathe. Its not a large area, so if you use screws to attach the metal, it will prove to be easily adjustable.

If you are comfortable with plaster products, mix to a stiff consistency and apply in controllable amounts and several coats. Or, do the same with "hot mud" until you've successfully recreated the cove.

If your not comfortable with that, you can create corbels by copying the shape of the cove and from 1x, using a jig saw, mimic the shape for each stud. Keeping in mind that these will be mounted even with the surface of the studs, they will tail off into the stud as well as even with the surface of the ceiling lathe.

Because 1x has a propensity to split when fasteners are inserted into the end grain, cut another set of corbels, keeping the ceiling or horizontal edge equal to those already cut, however, notch and lengthen the vertical leg approx. 2", to fit into the wall so that it can be attached to the side of the stud.

Glue and nail these two pieces together and install.

Using 1/4" or 3/8" drywall cut to length, score it on the back side at 1" to 1.5" intervals, which will allow it to bend, fit and install it on the corbels, use fiberglass tape for both the ceiling and wall joint prior to applying the finish material.

You may also consider the use of a trowel instead of a drywall knife.
Old 09-27-04, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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I am a plasterer. I would use metal lath and gypsum plaster for the basecoat and whitecoat for the finish.
That notwithstanding I have seen it done with masonite. Cut dimension lumber or plywood to the radius of the existing but allow for the thickness of the masonite these are supports for the masonite Put the supports up at least every 16", 12" might be better. Install the masonite.
Apply a bonding agent to the masonite so material will bond to it.
Tape the offset and fill the gap with quicksetting joint compound until it is all even with the existing. Tape the joint on the ends as well.
What it comes down to is do what you are most comfortable doing. Or hire a plasterer. For him that is a simple job.
BTW it's lath not lathe. One who installs lath is a lather not a lather.
He who laths last laths best; to turn a phrase. To turn metal or wood use a lathe.
Old 09-27-04, 01:47 PM
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This does go back a ways. Cut a sheet metal pattern to fit the old molding, back it with some ply wood. Now fill in or build out some like said. Put brown coat on it check all the time with template
Or, do the same with "hot mud" until you've successfully recreated the cove.
I dont know if this is the same. we called it molding plaster just keep putting it on and pull the template over it before it sets.

ED My .02 cents
Old 09-27-04, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
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Ed's idea is a good one especially of the cornice is complex. I think that for a simple cove a steady hand with the rod and maybe the darby would be sufficient. I've never run cornices with a template. The old green book devotes several pages to it but the only cornice work I've done is restoration and I had both sides of the existing to work to and could use a sharp rod to cut it in.
As a matter of interest I am guessing that artschwagers' house was built in the late forties or early fifties. After WW II and before 1955. How close did I come?
Old 09-28-04, 07:47 AM
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Thanks so much for the information. We're going to try the corbel/metal lath combination. I also appreciate the learning the terminology.

Tightcoat was right. Our house was built in 1937. It's classic Spainish style with different ceiling details in the every room.
Old 09-28-04, 11:03 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Well, I missed it by a decade. I didn't think gypsum lath was used that early. It might have varied according to the part of the country. I know a lot of houses that vintage that still used wood lath. And where I am from coves were not popular until post WW II

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