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Old 07-06-2011, 04:07 PM
 
Location: City of McKeesport
3,933 posts, read 3,978,721 times
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Hello,

I'm running into a little problem with the plaster walls in my 1909 house. They are pretty rough, but I have been living with them because they're not THAT bad. However, I'm getting around to starting the interior renovations to my house, and need some advice:

They are basically covered in several layers of old wallpaper, paint, duct tape, scotch tape, and completely patchy and uneven, with some cracks in places, and some thin wallboard glued up halfway in spots. It's really as crazy as it sounds.

I have been considering covering the whole damn thing with that paintable textured wallpaper and calling it a day.

I also had one plaster contractor out who looked at the walls and just shook his head. He said I would have to remove all of the original woodwork and he would have to screw 1/4 inch plaster board over the top of all the walls. He said this would cost thousands of dollars. I basically told him he was crazy and showed him the way out. LOL

Should I get another estimate from another contractor? Anyone have any recommendations? Should I hang up that textured wallpaper? Any other ideas? I really do NOT want to remove the original woodwork. And it's a $10k house, so I'm not looking to spend a fortune.
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Old 07-06-2011, 04:32 PM
gg
 
Location: Pittsburgh
11,519 posts, read 7,759,107 times
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That contractor could be correct. If you are able to measure your baseboard thickness, you might be able to get away with hanging board and butting it up against the baseboard if the baseboard is thick enough. In other words if the baseboard is 1/2" thick and you butt the 1/4" drywall down to it then your baseboard would look like it is 1/4" thick instead. This method isn't ideal, but it is a big cost saver.

There are plaster guys that can blend in anything, but they are talented. You know what that means, right? Expensive. I don't know much about textured wallpaper. You will need a pretty smooth surface to lay it down.

I realize the home is only 10K, but you don't want it to be worse than it was when you started. If the baseboard is too thin for the cheaper route, then it is hard to say what can be done.

Are you artistic? Maybe you can buy some joint compound "extra light" and do some patchwork yourself.
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Old 07-06-2011, 04:37 PM
 
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We know some guys who do great plaster work, but as h_curtis suggested, they are not inexpensive.

I may be wrong, but there may not be a better solution within your implied budget than the one you are suggesting (assuming that would work).
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:14 PM
 
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I can give you some advice about walls. I’ve been dealing with 50+ plaster.

Ceilings always higher a pro. The time and cost of equipment alone will make it worth your while.

Walls---First scrape everything off the plaster. I’ve found water and some fabric softener in a spray bottle does wonders at taking wallpaper off. Spray the wall down and then let it sit. It makes the old wall paper a little easier to take off. It’s still going to be a lot of work though.

Then wash the walls down with TSP. You can find it at Lowes and Home Depot. DO NOT skip this step. There’s stuff in old wallpaper glue that will make joint compound and paint bubble and come off in layers. Trust me—learned this one from experience.

Small cracks in walls get some joint compound and some tape. Sand it down. This you might have to do in layers until the wall is smooth.

Holes—Take layers of drywall screw them together. Use this to plug small to medium sized holes. Tape the edges. Large holes we either took the crumbling plaster down OR we simply dry walled over them. Since we were rewiring at the time we found it easier to take tracks of the wall down.

Just some hints- Invest in a corner tool if you’re doing the taping and dry walling yourself. If you take the walls down take a photo with the walls down. That way you have a record of where things like wires, pipes, structure supports, ect.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Perry South, Pittsburgh, PA
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You can do it cheap, or you can do it right.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillsHollow View Post

Then wash the walls down with TSP. You can find it at Lowes and Home Depot. DO NOT skip this step. There’s stuff in old wallpaper glue that will make joint compound and paint bubble and come off in layers. Trust me—learned this one from experience.

What is TSP? We're in the middle of doing this in our little house in Troy Hill. We bought a steamer to take off the 150 years of wallpaper. Yes. 150 YEARS OF IT. It was an inch and 1/2 thick. The steamer made things so much easier, and it's a good tool to have. It was only $40, worth it. We took off 4 layers of paneling to find plaster walls in pretty good shape, lovely kickboards and some great molding. Last week we found a tin ceiling in the kitchen. Why do people ruin their houses!?

Anyway, I understand. I'm trying to do things right, but not spend a gazillion dollars. It's hard, though! I feel your pain!
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCIKasey View Post
Why do people ruin their houses!?
People don't ruin their houses, or at least some don't, and none would have thought of it that way. Over the years as you've found in yours they often put up whatever is trendy at the time. Right now the favored idea is to get back to the more original look. Happens with walls, floors (look how many times you'll find carpet laid over great floors in an old house, but now we tend to favor the floor more), lighting fixtures, bath and kitchen setups, etc. At least it sounds like yours hasn't been completely ruined.

Last edited by greg42; 07-06-2011 at 07:08 PM..
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Old 07-06-2011, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Oakland CA
7,520 posts, read 10,403,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCIKasey View Post
What is TSP? We're in the middle of doing this in our little house in Troy Hill. We bought a steamer to take off the 150 years of wallpaper. Yes. 150 YEARS OF IT. It was an inch and 1/2 thick. The steamer made things so much easier, and it's a good tool to have. It was only $40, worth it. We took off 4 layers of paneling to find plaster walls in pretty good shape, lovely kickboards and some great molding. Last week we found a tin ceiling in the kitchen. Why do people ruin their houses!?

Anyway, I understand. I'm trying to do things right, but not spend a gazillion dollars. It's hard, though! I feel your pain!
TSP is Trisodium phosphate. This stuff works -- but always always always use gloves and mix appropriately. And if you are a messy Minnie like I am -- use eye protection. This stuff is an acid and will do some nasty things to your hands. It essentially not only takes off the goo and grease -- it finely etches the finish, to give it a "tooth" so your primer and paint will have a surface to grip to.

Angel -- I have no experience with Pittsburgh houses, but I would assume it's the same as my old house. Do you have lathe and plaster? As in -- are there small strips of wood nailed to your studs and the plaster is put over top of that? 'Cause that's what I have.

Lathe and plaster works because there is a first rough coat of plaster that is grittier and a bit harder that is forced in between the slats to create a "key" which holds the plaster onto the wall. Then a second finer coat is put over that rough coat and smoothed out.

If your walls are still keyed to the lathe -- as in you can't see large bubbles where the wall is hanging free from the lathe, or the walls don't move if you press them, then it's a good bet it's just your finish coat that's screwed up. You can try to skim coat but do not use joint compound. Joint compound is for mudding and taping drywall joints. I don't give a tinker's toss how many people have used joint compound to skim coat -- it's not meant for that and won't hold up -- use either patching plaster or get a mix of plaster you can mix up yourself. Just make sure you don't get one that sets up quick, since there will be a learning curve on how to use it.

And if you have swirled plaster in your house -- they got the swirl from a whisk broom, and godspeed on that..... I have smooth walls here, and those are bad enough to repair....

And large holes are fixable with drywall. I know Home Depot sells quarter sheets -- easier to manage than full sheets...

Oh -- and if your walls are bad enough that they aren't keyed anymore? Hate to say it, unless you want to become a master in the nearly dead art of plastering -- take it down, and rock it up.... but I hate sheetrock....
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:15 PM
 
Location: City of McKeesport
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Thanks, Hillshollow and Tallysmom! I'm going to follow your directions and take a stab at these walls myself!
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:19 PM
gg
 
Location: Pittsburgh
11,519 posts, read 7,759,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alleghenyangel View Post
Thanks, Hillshollow and Tallysmom! I'm going to follow your directions and take a stab at these walls myself!
Your welcome.
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