Repair Cracks in Plaster Lath Ceiling
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Julie in Pennsylvania who’s dealing with some drywall cracks. How can we help you?
JULIE: Well, actually, it’s in my living room ceiling and it goes the whole length of my ceiling. And unfortunately, it seems like it’s right under where the dormers are upstairs in the upstairs bedroom; we live in a Cape Cod.
TOM: Hey Julie, how old is your house?
JULIE: Probably it was built in the 40s.
TOM: Yeah, that’s what I thought. I think what you have is plaster lath. So the way your house would have been constructed is on top of the framing would have been something that looks like what we call drywall today but then on top of that was a plaster coating. So it was sort of used in between wood lath and straight sheetrock, which is what we have today. And the good thing about plaster lath ceiling construction or wall construction, it’s really dense stuff. I mean when you knock on it with your finger you can feel it; it’s a really hard wall. But it’s not very flexible, so you do get cracks; they’re going to be along seams and it’s not unusual for it to go from end to end.
If it really bothers you, you can repatch that with a drywall tape. We would recommend a perforated tape for that.
JULIE: OK, so I would just put that the whole length of that and then I put the spackling over that?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to – when you put the spackle over it, you want to start pretty narrow, the width of that fiberglass tape, and put a nice coat on it just so it covers over the edges. Let it dry, sand it down; then you want to put another coat over it, go wider than you did before. Let it dry, sand it down. You want to get it to about three coats and get wider and wider and wider, sanding in between each so that it gets nice and smooth and covers everything up.
TOM: When you think about all the work, the crack doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
JULIE: Not really, no. (Tom and Leslie laugh) You know what? I’ve been trying to tackle this year after year and it just drives me crazy and I …
TOM: Yeah, because it closes and opens and closes and opens with the seasons, right?
TOM: Well, a house is always moving, Julie, and that’s what’s going on and it’s perfectly natural. If you want to fix it, that’s what you need to do.
JULIE: OK, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.