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Thread: Nail guns and wall plaster

  1. #1

    Default Nail guns and wall plaster

    I'm about to buy a cordless Dewalt nail gun. I remember reading somewhere that you can install crown molding or baseboard over plaster by shooting a nail directly through the wall plaster into the wood lath. Has anyone tried this?

    My one experience with trying to install crown molding over plaster was with a regular hammer and nails, and all my nails just bent.

    I know drilling holes is an option, but I'd rather fire a few nails and be done with it. This Dewalt takes 16 gauge brads from 1.25" to 2.5".

  2. #2
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I wonder how you would know where the lath was? Give it a try and let us know how it works out . For crown, you might consider installing a backer strip in the wall-ceiling corner (ripped to the crown angle on its face), then nail the crown to it. Then any screwups associated with nailing into the plaster would be confined to the backer strip.

  3. #3

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    Okay, then. Is there a formula to determine how far apart the wooden lath strips are--like there is for studs?

    I wonder if the plaster itself is strong enough to hold molding without going into the lath.

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    No formula for the lath strips...sort of random. I'd be worried the plaster would shatter.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    The lath is normally around 3/8" apart, but I wouldn't count on it, and I doubt a studfinder would be of any use. Thinking back to the plaster walls I've seen from behind, it looks like the lath was eyeballed at best. In any case, I'm with Jim; real plaster is pretty brittle, unlike gypsum board. The nail gun might be able to zap a 16 or 18-gauge nail in there before the plaster had a chance to shatter, but I wouldn't bet on it. For crown, I'd be tempted to glue a backer into the corner somehow; for base molding, go for the studs.

  6. #6

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    If it came down to using a backer strip, I'd drill right through the plaster with a 1/8 inch masonry bit and screw in 3/16" tapcons. If that didn't work, I'd try finding some kind of plaster wall anchor. Then I'd use my nail gun to nail the molding to the backer strip.

    By the way, this is just a theoretical exercise. There's probably more of a chance that I'd be doing this in an Adobe house where I live now in SW NM. Anyone have experience with drilling or nailing into Adobe?

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    Master Electrician & Engineer galacon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Verdeboy
    Anyone have experience with drilling or nailing into Adobe?
    Progrip, baby, Progrip!
    Glenn R. Grundberg
    BSEE, RCDD/lan, IBEW JW
    GOAL Electrical

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by galacon
    Progrip, baby, Progrip!
    Please translate.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default adobe

    As a coworker told me the first time I worked in an adobe house and I asked him how hard it was to drill a hole in the wall, he said, "How hard is it to drill dirt?" The same thing applies to your question about nailing. How tight will dirt hold a nail?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj
    As a coworker told me the first time I worked in an adobe house and I asked him how hard it was to drill a hole in the wall, he said, "How hard is it to drill dirt?" The same thing applies to your question about nailing. How tight will dirt hold a nail?
    I guess I'll have to practice using my new Dewalt cordless nail gun in some other material.

  11. #11
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I'm assuming Progrip is some miracle glue.

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