A squishy situation


Old 12-13-05, 10:45 AM
loreyna's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 94
A squishy situation

Well again we bought a 100 year old farm house.. The place has seemingly perfect plaster walls. They are lovely.. But up the main set of stair, to my dismay, I ran my hand along the wall paper only to discover a very "squishy" area on the wall.. No I know... at leased I think.. there is lathe and plaste... so would there not be wood behind the plaster? Why would the wall be like that.. does it mean that there is a problem with the wood behind.. I want to fix it but I don't want to take down the wall paper and find myself up to my ears in plaster and yukyness.. though I am sure that's what is neccesary.. Please advise me on what to do and what could have cause the problem. The "squishy" area is about 1sf right near the light switch at the top of the stairs...

Another question is that the staircase to the third floor if the home has a crack in the seam were it meet with the ceiling of the 2nd floor.. does this mean that there is a structural integrity problem? or just that the stoping of little feet has spilt it over time.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 51
The plaster keys have probably broken loose. When the plasterer applies the base coat of plaster it is pushed between the lathe strips. This bulges a bit behind the lathe, holding the surface of the plaster to the lathe when it all dries. Over time the plaster dries out and gets bumped and the keys break loose from the surface plaster. The surface layer often stays intact but is now floating over the lathe and the weight of the plaster pulls it away from the lathe slightly allowing an air space between. This is probably the "squishy"ness you feel.

You can fix this two ways. One is to use plaster washers as described in the "how to" on repairing plaster. The drawack is that you would have to remove some wallpaper and smooth over the washers when done with drywall mud. The other option, which I have used is to drill a matrix of 3/8" holes over the detached area, just through the plaster but not through the lathe. You then "inject" adhesive such as Liquid Nails into these holes ensuring that some glue gets between the lathe and the plaster. Then brace the plaster back against the wall by putting a piece of plywood against it and leaning 2X4 or similar against the plywood to push the plaster firmly against the lathe. When the glue is dry fill smooth the surface of the holes with mud. I have never done it, but I think you could probably do this with minimal disruption of the wallpaper. I space the holes about one inch apart vertically and horizontally, but you could probably get away with wider spacing, using a utility knife to cut out a small piece of wallpaper before drilling each hole and then gluing the pieces back in place when the repair is done.

On the other hand, it could be something more serious such as plaster which has crumbled away leaving a space between wallpaper and lathe. Be prepared once you start stripping wallpaper, it is likely to be worse than you expect back there. If you need to do more serious repairs, read the "how to" mentioned aove. It is very helpful.


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