Plaster Repair For The Worried Homeowner

by Edwin Brown
(Corvallis, OR USA)

My plaster repair - can I really do this myself?

For many homeowners, fixing their plaster problems is something they dread. They form mental pictures of burly repair guys tracking all over the carpets,removing chucks of wall or ceiling plaster and creating an ungodly mess in the process.

All this with no firm confidence that the repairs will be finished flawlessly. And the cost? Don’t even think about it.

The good news is, plaster repair does NOT have to be this way. Not only can you (with the right instruction) fix your own plaster, but you can do it for very little cost, subject of course to the extent of the needed repairs.

I know this because I have shown homeowners how to renovate old plaster, and they do it!

Just a brief word about my experience. I have been engaged in wall and ceiling renovation work for 40 years. But not every client who calls me can afford my full service. So they hire me for some quick lessons and they go on to apply what I show them to get the satisfactory results they are hoping for.

They are proud of what they achieve, and I am simply re-confirmed in my conviction that this whole area really is something the motivated homeowner can tackle.

The first important rule of thumb is this: don’t try to deal with your plaster problems using plaster. What? No plaster?

No, because there is a much easier, simpler way.

Plaster is a difficult, tricky medium for the novice, in my opinion. I have used it myself, and I know first hand you better know what you are doing. One major problem you will encounter when using plaster for repair purposes, is getting the repair to blend well
within the existing surface.

The simple approach is to use drywall finishing materials. These are relatively easy for the novice to learn to use, are much more forgiving, and can be blended well in place. They work well for holes, cracks, dings, water damaged plaster and even for skim coating old ugly or rough surfaces.

And of course they work fine not only for bad plaster but for drywall repairs as well.

Drywall finishing compound comes in a wide variety of kinds. The easiest for most purposes is the premixed all-purpose stuff. But there are also quick-set compounds that harden by chemical action, so that once the water is added to the powder you only have
a limited time to work. And in addition there are specially formulated compounds that are used for doing wall or ceiling texture applications.

For reinforcement purposes, there are different kinds of tape that can be glued into place over cracks, and around the edges of hole patches. Standard paper drywall tape, and also various sorts of fiberglass tape.

When dealing with some holes, it is may be necessary to put some kind of backing into, place, and then to attach a piece of drywall over the void.

Plaster repair can often be more a matter of plaster renovation, as in the case of doing skim coat to hide old or rough texture, or skim coating out a whole wall or ceiling which has received extensive crack repair. And in the same category of renovation can be found
the whole issue of new texture applications, where your artistic side can be put to good use. This last is often the most fun of all.

Most tools you will use are simple hand tools, like drywall taping and broad knives, mud pans, maybe a plasterers hawk and trowel. A tool for stirring or thinning joint mud will also be needed, plus a few other odds and ends. Most of these are easy to find at local home improvement stores, masonry supply houses - even garage sales, sometimes.

Get good instruction, and with patience and some work, you may just surprise yourself with what you can do. You won’t be the first.

----- Edwin Brown has developed a website where he gives in depth treatment of all kinds of plaster problems, at In addition, he offers a free 10 lesson email course called How To Repair Your Old Plaster Right. Subscribe here at plaster repair instruction.

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