Plaster Repair

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The pains of plastering walls have been largely erased due to the arrival of drywall. However, some still choose to plaster due to the benefits of increased soundproofing and sturdiness. Even if you didn't choose plaster, you may have purchased an older home with plaster walls.

If your home has plaster walls that are damaged, repairing them is a much simpler and cheaper option than replacing them. Read on to find out how to take on this project by yourself:


Before you get started on repairing your plaster walls, gather the materials you'll need to make the project a success:
  • Spackling knife and putty knife

  • Paper drywall tape

  • Plaster washers

  • Coarse-threaded drywall screws

  • Setting-type joint compound

  • Spackle™

  • Mud pan

  • Drywall

  • Fine sandpaper

  • Potato masher or paint-mixing drill
Also, remember to wear a dust mask and goggles.

Fixing Small Holes

Small holes are the easiest to fix. Just apply some Spackle™ with a putty knife and let it dry. If, there's still an indentation in the wall after it has dried, apply another coat. Once the Spackle™ is dry, sand the spot with fine sandpaper. Finally, touch it up with primer and paint.

Fixing Large Holes

Repairing larger holes can be a little trickier, as there are a few more steps involved. First, you should:
  1. Mix the joint compound. Follow the instructions on the package for mixing to ensure you have mixed it correctly.

  2. Place some compound in a mud pan.

  3. Using a spackling knife, fill a hole with the compound, leaving an indentation of about 1/8 inch.

  4. Using the edge of the knife, scratch the surface of the patched hole and let it dry before applying a second, smooth coat. The scratched surface will help the second coat bond to the first.
If the area is too large to fill in this manner, you'll need to cut a piece of drywall to fill the hole.
  • Screw the piece to the lath (wood backing of the plaster wall).

  • Apply the joint compound around the edges, spreading it out to about two inches onto the surrounding surface.

  • Lay paper drywall tape into the compound and smooth it all out with the spackling knife.

  • Let it dry and then add two or three additional coats of joint compound, smoothing each one out as the first.

Repairing Loose Plaster

Small pieces of loose plaster can be removed and filled in the same way you would fill large holes, but larger loose pieces should be reattached with plaster washers.
  • Screw plastic washers, spaced a couple of inches apart, around the hole in concentric circles, working from the outside (the most secure) in towards the hole (the least secure).

  • Fill the hole using the methods described in the previous section, and cover the entire area with joint compound.

  • Cracks can be reinforced by installing screws at six-inch intervals along either side of the crack. The screws should be placed about one inch away from the crack itself.

  • Cover the entire area with joint compound.
Once all the holes are patched, the loose plaster secured, and the Spackle™ and joint compound are dry, you can sand everything smooth with fine sandpaper. Then, the wall will be ready for priming and painting.

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013

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