Helpful Hints

  • Keep in mind that plaster is a brittle material and that stress cracks and other blemishes are to be expected in plastered surfaces. Such cracks are best dealt with by the use of a latex caulk, which can be repainted when still wet.
  • A common trim detail in homes with plastered walls is a picture rail, designed to avoid putting picture hooks, or other hanging devices into the plaster wall. The picture rail is designed to hang the pictures from this trim piece by the use of hooks and wiring. This rail is usually located a few inches below the ceiling.
  • In all homes, especially in homes with lath and plaster ceilings, special care must be taken when working in the unfinished attic space to avoid damage to the lath and plaster that can be seen below the floor joists.
  • In rooms with heavily damaged flat lath and plaster ceilings, new drywall can be applied directly over the old plaster by attaching the drywall to the ceiling joists, using long drywall screws. Where molding, such as a picture rail, is installed in a corner between the ceiling and the wall, the molding may have to be removed and re-installed after the new drywall has been applied and finished. Covering old plaster walls with drywall may be more difficult, since the thickness of new drywall diminishes the profile of doors, windows and other trim on the wall. A common solution to this problem is the removal of the plaster, and the installation of new drywall directly over the remaining lath.
  • It is always a good idea to review existing, or future electrical needs prior to restoring or repainting existing walls. A skilled electrician should be able to install new electrical wiring with minimal damage to the wall surfaces. However, the possibility of some plaster damage is to be expected, and it is for this reason that such work is ideally done prior to work on the wall surfaces.
  • Many damaged plaster ceilings, especially coved ceilings, are covered with a heavy textured spray in an attempt to correct the ceiling damage. Such textured material does little to restore the integrity of the plaster. This material should also be tested prior to removal, to determine if it contains asbestos.
  • When replacing windows, it would be prudent to purchase replacement windows that fit into the old sash openings. This eliminates the need to take apart old interior and exterior window trim, or cause any damage to the plaster. Most windows are available in various sizes to fit several sash openings.