Tommy Mac Discussions › Forums › Fix-it Forum: Home Improvement & Do It Yourself Repair Forum › ceiling with cracks
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September 24, 1998 at 11:58 pm #13045CeilingGuest
My house was built in 1930,the ceilings are slats with plaster. The ceilings have cracks in it from settling, they are a rough texture ,how can they be repaired? thanks
September 25, 1998 at 6:54 am #80099Henry in MIGuest
The answer to this depends on 2 questions. How historically accurate do you want your house to be? And how much do you wnat to spend?
With lath and plaster, first you put up the wood strips, then a coat of plaster is added and forced into the space between the strips so it acts like keys to hold the plaster up. Finally, 2 more coats of plaster are added, the final coat of which can be smooth or textured. Repairing this is a job for a pro, not because of cost of equipment but to insure that the job is done right, which takes experience. Ceilings are worse that walls and if not done right, you can be doing it again soon. If you hire it done, be sure to ask a lot of questions about how many jobs the pro has done and how they have held up. Don’t hire anybody young and cheap for this.
Now the other way to go. If you are not concerned about historical accuracy and cost is your main criteria, put up drywall. This will be at least a two person job. If you have to DIY, the best way to start is to keep watching home shows on TV until you find one where it is being done as it is a heck of a lot easier if you see it done rather than read about it. Briefly, use a stud finder and lay out the joist pattern. Make 2 dutchmen and put the drywall sheets up. Nail or screw them thru the plaster ceiling into the joists. Mud and tape the joints. This is a nasty, messy job and the same warnings go if you hire it done but there are a lot more people out there who know how to do drywall than know how to do plaster.
Good luck. :o)
September 25, 1998 at 8:20 am #80101Brian EwingGuest
First off let me say this:
DO NOT! Install tape or fiber-glass mesh over the cracks in your home!
This is a complete waiste of time and expense! No little bit of tape or fiber-glass is gonna stop the movement of your walls and if your walls do move the cracks are coming back!
Not only do you have the cracks back but you have to go through the extra time and money of having to deal with the tape and/or mesh.
Really…….It’s just a waiste of time….
Now to fix your cracks.
I’ll post here a post I created on my BB on repairing plaster cracks. It may be a bit long winded, but it is truly the correct method of restoring your plaster cracks.
For small, old age, expansion and contraction cracks obviously nothing like major movement of the walls, start at step 2a. For cracks that are deeper and obviously movement cracks follow step 1a (after you have determined that the movement has been mitigated).
For Major movement cracks:
1a: Using a screw driver, or other strong pointed tool, carve a slot on both sides of the crack, its full length. This slot should be about two or three inches from the crack on both sides. Its purpose is to isolate the crack from the surrounding wall.
1b: Remove all the plaster between the two slots. You need to go down to the lath. If you have old wooden lath this should be easy. For metal lath you most definitely will want to use a masons hammer. Just be sure you don’t rip the original lath. Don’t hit too hard, you can still spall the base coats of the surrounding wall from its lath.
1c: Brush out the area that you removed and get out any remaining dust, pebbles and what not. Also, for original metal lath, remove most of the plaster remaining in the little holes.
1d: If your lath is of the wooden variety. Install, using screws, a strip of “diamond mesh” metal lath going the full length of the opening. If you have to use more than one piece of lath be sure to over lap the pieces by at least two inches. Make sure that the lath is tight by pulling one end of the lath as you screw it to the wall. If your original lath is metal, you will need buy a spool of 19 gauge galvanized wire. Cut the wire into lengths of about five or six inches. Bend the wire about one or two inches from one end. Take the bent end and insert it through the new wire and through the original lath. Pull the short end back out the lath a few holes away and twist the wire with a pair of pliers until it is good and tight.
1e: Paint a Poly-vinyl-Acetate bonder over the edges of the opening. P.V.A. works great at keeping the old wall from sucking the water out of the wet patching material and at the same time creating a good bond.
1f: Buy a bag of “perlited – Structo Lite” (U.S.G.), some people would say that you should use “Red Top” plaster that mixes with sand, but I am not writing a book here. Mix the base coat as per the directions on the bag and trowel it into the opening about 1/4 to half way to the face of the surrounding wall. Cross rake this coat to roughen it up a bit. This is your scratch coat.
1g: The following day, mix another batch of plaster and fill the opening to about 1/16th inch or so from the surrounding wall face. The final 1/16th inch is to provide room for the finish coat. Leave this coat alittle rough. This is your brown coat.
1h: Give the brown coat time to cure out. About eight to ten days is good enough.
1i: Buy a bag of “Red Top – Slow Set” Finish Plaster (U.S.G.) and mix it as per the directions on the bag. Trowel on the finish plaster flush with the surrounding wall. Take a brush and wet the wall occasionally by dashing it with water from the brush and troweling until the wall is smooth. Be sure not to hit the wall with the brush as you do this.
1j: Being a “newbie” you may need to sand the patch after it dries.
You are now a plasterer!
For minor movement cracks:
2a: First open the crack with a tool such as an old screw driver. You need to make the crack about 1/4 inch wide.
2b: Brush out the opening to remove any deleterious dust particles and such.
2c: Apply P.V.A. to the opening to give the patching material a good bond.
2d: Buy a bag of “DuraBond90” (again, U.S.G.) and infill the crack flush with the surrounding wall. If the patching material shrinks and creates a pit where the patch is, just apply more material.
NOTE: The pros will probably use either lime/gaguing mix or RedTop mill-mixed plaster for the finish coat. However, since you are inexperienced you should use Durabond90 or EasySand90. It’s not quite as good, but it will work. Just DO NOT use drywall mud!
2e: After the patch is dry, sand it smooth and flush with the surrounding wall.
I know that the first step seems hard. But, this is the proper way to patch a wall and
if its worth doing, its worth doing well and correct….
I hope I have helped some here……..
December 16, 1999 at 1:01 pm #85839HollieGuest
The home I am buying does not have forced air, only heated pipes in the ceiling. Is this a good thing and how do I repair the cracks?
July 7, 2004 at 3:15 pm #245803Harry BitnerGuest
We have a bubble which originally was around 12 inches long. We contacted our painter and he came out and put sprakle on it and waited a few days. He came out today and low and behold it is starting to bubble up again. My husband went up to the attic and everything seems to be OK and we haven’t had any rain and there is no water marks but this just remains a mystery to our painter and ourselves. Do you have any ideas? If you do e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
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