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Thread: Cracks in plaster ceiling - cover w/drywall or tear out?

  1. #1
    Engineer chassis's Avatar
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    Default Cracks in plaster ceiling - cover w/drywall or tear out?

    Kitchen has cracked plaster ceiling, built in 1950. Technically I think it's some kind of plaster board, due to some demo work I did in another room. It seems like 2' wide by whatever long of 3/8" prefab board, with 3/8" of finish plaster coat. Wire mesh lath in the corners, no lath anywhere else. Seems like a modern day plaster?

    Question is should I put drywall over the plaster to cover the kitchen ceiling? Or should I tear out the plaster ceiling and go back with drywall (about 10 sheets). The benefit to tear out is I can put in recessed lights much more easily.

    Repairing the cracks with tape and mud will be obvious and I think I want to aviod it. Unless some folks believe that a good job can be done with tape/mud. Comments?

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I don't know what the material is or how it might look after being patched, but I would hazzard a guess that it would look like a patch job. Perhaps a professional drywall finisher could make it look good, but you'd likely spend as much money that way as you would a a tearout and replacement. The thing tp remember is that you and yours will have to live with the decision for a long time. I've found for myself that I never regret doing a remodel or repair right even if it cost more time/money.

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    DIY Senior Member sulconst2's Avatar
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    i agree with gary to do things right but a plaster demo in a kitchen is quite a messy project. i'd patch it first then a flat ceiling paint to somewhat hide imperfections. see if you can live with it. if not then remove appliances, laun floor for protection, cover all cabinets, remove any blinds, put a fan in the window, block any doorways. turn off furnace and go to town!

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Sounds like a plaster mud job over what I believe was called lath board. It was sheets of a material similar to today's drywall. It had holes...about 3/4" diam. all over, spaced about 6" I think. The holes perfomed the same function as the slots between conventional lath slats...they allowed a "key" of mortar to penetrate and become the locking key.

    You could cover it all with a new layer of 1/4 or 3/8 drywall, using long screws and being careful to locate joists for the screw lines. Taking down the old ceiling is a BIG mess.

  5. #5
    Engineer chassis's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips folks. Jimbo, what you described seems to be what I have - plaster board with a finish coat over it. Think I'll go with d/wall over existing plaster instead of complete tearout, based on dust/mess factor, and we might be selling soon.

  6. #6
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Default 50s lath

    All lath back then didn't have holes...

    Better late than never maybe.

    Try not to drill into a copper water pipe...........

    I would get my local plasterer. He likes to do small jobs and is very good.
    Last edited by plumber1; 11-11-2005 at 11:11 AM.

  7. #7
    alhurley
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    I had the same thing in a 50s house, but no cracks. Think about using 1/4" drywall since all you are doing is covering to get a new surface. Long screws and a little glue will do wonders.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    Best thing for disappearing plaster cracks is mudding over a 6"-8" wide strip of black vinyl screen "wire" centered along the crack, just like you would mud a strip of sheetrock tape, only feathered wider.
    (A tip from an old painter friend of mine with more than 40 years pro experience at painting old houses around here. Says he's never had a plaster crack reappear with that trick.)
    I'd definitely try that before I ripped out or covered a whole kitchen ceiling.
    Good Luck!
    Mike

  9. #9
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    alhurley had this one right. The cracks will most likely return if patched. Get a stud finder and find the ceiling joists and mark them on the ceiling and walls with pencil. Then if you want, chalk lines staying 1' away from the walls, it makes screwing the drywall easier. Then go over the ceiling with 1/4" drywall. Tape and mud.

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