Bob Vila Radio: Removing Plaster

Removing plaster can be a messy job. These pointers can help you keep the dust and debris neatly contained.

By Roseann Foley Henry | Updated Feb 12, 2014 10:33 AM

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It’s tough to think of a dirtier job than tearing down old plaster. The dust gets everywhere!


Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING PLASTER or read the text below:

Removing Plaster


You certainly don’t want it in your lungs, so the first step in removing plaster is to get yourself a respirator mask—not one of those paper masks, but a good-quality mask with a filter. Wear eye protection—real safety goggles that provide wraparound coverage—and thick work gloves.

Next, you’ll want to seal off your work space as best you can from the rest of your home. Nothing is 100% effective in keeping the dust contained, but thick plastic sheeting taped along every inch, over every exit from the room, will at least reduce the spread of the dust. Protect the floor with kraft paper first, then place a drop cloth or tarp over that.

Remove the plaster using a flat bar, putting the larger chunks into heavy-duty contractor bags. If you’re using a container service, you can skip the bagging and put the debris into trash cans to be hauled out to the curb (and emptied into the container).

Once the plaster is down, pry off the old lath with a hammer and bundle it up for disposal. Watch out for nails! And here’s one more tip: Don’t take up the floor protection right away; dust will continue to settle for days.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.