Get tips on repairing plaster walls. Learn what materials can fill holes in plaster and allow the plaster wall to be painted.
LESLIE: Dorothy in Illinois, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DOROTHY: I’m living in a home that is about 65 years old and I decided that I hated the wallpaper in the dining room and thought that I would just remove the wallpaper . I just didn’t realize the problem I was going to get into. First of all, I had to go through seven layers of wallpaper.
DOROTHY: Once I got all the wallpaper off I realized that as I was taking the final couple layers off …
DOROTHY: … actually what was underneath that I thought was drywall was actually plaster.
TOM: Hmm. Do you know if the plaster is on wood lathe?
DOROTHY: Yes, it’s on wood lathe.
DOROTHY: And pieces of the plaster have fallen off with the wallpaper.
TOM: Mm-hmm, yeah that doesn’t surprise me.
DOROTHY: So now I have these holes and my concern is how do I repair the holes so that I can paint or re-wallpaper.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, you’re going to obviously have to repair the plaster  and the best way to do that is with a plaster mix. You can use spackle but if you got real plaster and mixed it up it’s probably going to adhere better than the spackle would to the old plaster.
LESLIE: Is there any prep that needs to be done to the edge of this, you know, tear in the plaster, if you will, to make sure that it’s susceptible?
TOM: I would probably – because you don’t know what’s on that surface, I’d probably sand it a little bit as a final step before I patched it. But here’s a really important step after you get it all patched up. I would recommend that you prime the entire wall with a good-quality, oil-based primer; not a water-based one – oil-based primer. Because that’s going to seal that in. You’re going to have different levels of porosity on that wall. Some is going to be absorbent than others and if you don’t prime it you’re going to find that the paint on top of that is not going to have an even finish.
TOM: So repair it with plaster and then prime it and you’ll be good to go.