Latest Discussions : Painting


01:40PM | 10/14/02
Member Since: 10/13/02
2 lifetime posts
I am renovating a 1920's two-family home. Most rooms have the original horse hair plaster, and some have 1/4" drywall over the plaster, but only 8' up of the 12' ceilings.

My question is do I remove everything plaster & drywall and intall 1/2" drywall, or should I work with what is there, and only apply 1/4" drywall?

I've heard arguments for both applications, but would like some additional input. Thanks!!!


01:04AM | 10/16/02
Member Since: 07/28/02
1356 lifetime posts
I would go with the 1/4" drywall as the end result will look the same and it will be less work on your part.


02:10AM | 10/16/02
Member Since: 10/14/02
11 lifetime posts
I've drywalled over old plaster walls and ceilings in a 3 story 1600 sq. ft. twin. Screwed and glued 3/8 drywall(1/4 inch wasn't available locally)had a prof. taper do the the finishing because there was so much to finish at one time,still looks great and that was 11 yrs. ago.The downside of not ripping down the plaster and installing drywall is that you can't insulate behind the walls,run elec. and ducts for central air.

[This message has been edited by Stmftr (edited October 16, 2002).]

doug seibert

04:55PM | 10/16/02
Member Since: 08/10/02
842 lifetime posts
How about FIXING the old plaster and forget about covering up everything...........the drywall over plaster reduces the reveal on the door and window trim and baseboards.....and you retain the beautiful old house plaster look...........doug


01:19AM | 10/17/02
Member Since: 10/14/02
11 lifetime posts
I removed the baseboard and reinstalled after the drywall was installed as far as the reveal for the windows and doors a piece of 3/8 sanitary trim fills the gap between the dry wall and trim,per an old carpenter (you have to pop off the trim before you dry wall) and it's still less work than a demo with lathe and plaster. This house was also from the early 1900's. Of course this is just my opinion about drywall over plaster. Either one--- it's your party.

[This message has been edited by Stmftr (edited October 17, 2002).]

[This message has been edited by Stmftr (edited October 17, 2002).]


05:21PM | 10/29/02
Member Since: 11/14/00
333 lifetime posts
I agree that using 1/4 inch drywall should suffice and be more efficient. It is not as if there is not already a wall surface there. 1/4 inch is all you need to COVER an existing wall. Indeed, that is the only reasonable application for 1/4 inch: to cover an existing wall. Because it ADDS to the wall thickness, as opposed to creating its own depth, it is not as if you are installing 1/4 inch on the studs, alone. You still end up with better insulation and support than you had before, even though 1/4 inch by itself would be inadequate.

If the plaster above the drywall is in good shape, you could also install a piece of trim along the line to cover the transition and create a sort of pediment above it. Paint the ceiling color down to the trim line, not just on the ceiling, which will have the effect of opening the room up a bit. Or you can paint that portion an accent color. You can also hang pictures with a long, thin wire from the trim like Art Galleries do, thereby avoiding the need to punch nail holes into the walls. If you use crown molding, you can also install hidden lights behind the crown molding to provide an all-roomn "aura" of indirect "up-light" onto the ceiling.

As for Doug's comments, plaster is only worth saving if it is in good condition. The finest homes in the world have drywall on them. If the previous owners have already slapped drywall up, then I doubt saving the plaster is an option.

Drywall gets a bad rep because of the cheap 1/2 inch drywall and cheap, uninsulated walls underneath. Good 5/8 inch drywall that is properly taped looks as good as plaster and (in my opinion) has better sound insulation qualities (less of an echo in the room). Covering plaster with 1/4 inch drywall will achieve the same (if not greater) thickness as 5/8 inch drywall on the studs, which is quite good.

[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited October 29, 2002).]


10:55AM | 06/10/14
Goodness, repair the plaster if at all possible. Have to heartily disagree with the comment that "the finest homes in the world have drywall". Maybe the finest homes in the US? Maybe not even then! Plastering is a dying art.


11:40PM | 03/05/16
I guess the obvious question from a layman's perspective, what about simply applying drywall compound directly over the plaster?
I have my parent's old home, circa mid 60's. Plaster looks tired, but is fixable. My preference is to just have a smooth wall repainted. Marc


08:04AM | 07/25/16
drywall is a cheap, low budget, chintsy wall covering, that the big building material companies got everyone to settle for. lathe/plaster is way stronger,sturdier, and better looking. they did the same thing with vinyl siding, now all the big homes have plastic siding that fades, and they depreciate like a new car after you buy them. fix the plaster. if you can afford it.
if not, drywall over the plaster. gutting the entire house of lathe/plaster is just stupid today. it costs way too much. if you drywall over it the renovation will last 100 years.


08:09AM | 07/25/16
ps- the "nicest" homes in the USA built today, if done with drywall, have all the tape falling off from the seams of the drywall, and the drywall looks like the waves of the ocean after a few years. I can't believe how lousy these expensive homes look with drywall. their walls aren't even as nice as my mom's $12,000, 1500 square foot ranch home, that my parents built in 1964. the trim in my mom's house is nicer too.

of course to build something like that today, the builder would have dollar signs in his eyes...

the real estate market has become like the used car market...what a ripoff for lousy quality, even the new homes are lousy. McMansions, can I supersize that ?? they even call the loans at the bank for these homes "jumbo loans".

aimed at the market IQ level of 50.


10:47PM | 08/09/16
We just bought an old 1930's farmhouse. Most of the original house has plaster walls and ceilings. In the dining room there is water damage in the corner on the ceiling from a previous leak on the roof. We are thinking we will shiplap the ceiling. Do you have suggestions or cautions we should be aware of before we start this project? Also wondering best method to install?


05:10PM | 10/27/18
Another to consider is that asbestos testing is very expensive. Some of the old plaster and products had asbestos. So, there's that.


09:26PM | 01/15/20
I just came to read the comments as i am a single mother that is buying a very old brick house that was not maintained at all. I do not have a ton of money to spend on repairing everything but would like it to last a good while. The plaster is falling off in huge chunks throughout the house and i dont believe it is repairable. I was hoping drywall would suffice as the house isnt worth putting tons of money into as is.


03:59PM | 07/10/20
To those saying "fix the plaster", plaster cracks, repeatedly, 1/4 drywall doesn't. Fix it once and be done with it.


02:10AM | 07/29/20
Member Since: 07/29/20
1 lifetime posts
1. Look for the studs. Thanks! Duh...
2. Lots of liquid nails. starting to find that out. Thanks again!

My house is about 130 yo and next to the highest point in town that was made into an old reservoir. The built up land around it (I am a professional geologist) has caused mass wasting, and cracked drywall, at my house. While repairable, it will only crack again. Drywall will last long enough over the next 100 years.

I am not going to "fix" this plaster, as plaster is not the problem! Tom


01:15PM | 11/23/20
I just realized I have the old lath and plaster on my ceilings and walls...Some are in great condition and few are in need of a cover up...I was thinking to put 1/4” drywall over it on the ceiling and 1 wall that needs it..The ceilings are in good shape with no cracks or anything..,Can I just screw the drywall up on the ceilings??? I was also thinking of putting bead board paneling on the walls over the plastered lath? It’s simple, can be painted and done with


06:06PM | 01/12/21
It will be important to find the ceiling joists above the plaster ceiling before installing any drywall to cover it. The best way to do this is to use a Zircon m40 metal scanner. Any hits will indicate the small nails that were used to secure the wooden lath to the joists themselves. This is a way more reliable method than using a stud finder on plaster.


11:40AM | 02/18/21
I have had good luck finding the joists above my plaster ceilings by putting a strong magnet in an upside down clear carry-out container lid and waving it over the ceiling slowly. The magnet visibly jerks when passing over a nail holding up the lath even if it is not strong enough to “grab” them the way it does on the walls. I find that as my arm tires it is hard to feel the magnet pull consistently on the ceiling and that the lid technique is superior.I mark a couple nails on each side of each joist and then snap a line across the ceiling.


12:13AM | 03/23/21
Thinking about buying an old house from 1890. House has a mix of knob and tube and shotty Romex wiring. Can I cut holes in the plaster to replace wiring in the home and then drywall over everything? Seems that will be the cheaper and easiest route. Thanks.


10:00PM | 04/14/21
Weird I just bought my pops house that was the 1st house built on the block and its a 1890s place... he did do alot of outside appeal like paver work outback with an in ground pool.. also has a garage turned into a game room.. but obviously the inside definitely needs alot of TLC just hope I didn't get into alot more work then wanted lol...


01:13PM | 04/17/21
If you have plaster wall worth restoring I high recommend “plaster magic” for re-adhering the player to the lath. I feel like there is no “correct” answer to saving your plaster, dry walling over it, or or tearing down and doing drywall. Sort of depends on your personal needs, how long you’ll own the house, etc etc.


12:39PM | 08/02/21
The previous owner of my new house used drywall compound over the plaster and lathe and made .5"-1" stalactites (his version of extra extra popcorn ceiling)all over the house. I want to cover with 1/4 drywall. How much scraping should I do to prepare the surface? Does it need to be perfectly smooth or just mostly? TIA


07:13PM | 09/08/21
I see a lot of people asking why they wouldn't just fix the plaster. One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that if you have plaster walls, you most likely have at least 1 layer of lead paint underneath. When that plaster starts cracking or breaking again, and it will, you'll have lead exposure that would have been avoided by covering it with the 1/4" drywall.

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