Plaster Walls: Keep or Replace?
LESLIE: We’ve got Brad from Illinois on the line who’s got a question about plaster walls. How can we help you?
BRAD: Well, I had purchased an older home and I want to do some renovations to it. And I’m kind of getting different stories about what I should do with the walls. It has plaster walls now. I’d like your opinion on whether I should keep the plaster walls or tear out the plaster walls and replace them with drywall.
TOM: My recommendation to you, Brad, would be a third option and that is to keep the plaster walls but cover them with drywall. And here’s why. If you tear out the plaster walls – well, you don’t want to keep the original plaster wall because over the years they deteriorate from behind, they get loose and you are always going to be dealing with cracks and that sort of thing. So then your option is do I tear it out or not? I don’t think it’s a good idea to tear it out. A lot of the old framing is not real straight and if you tore it out, went down the frame, you put drywall up, you might find that it’s kind of warp-y.
So what I would suggest you do – plus it’s a huge mess. I mean big mess. So I would put 3/8-inch-thick drywall, which is a thinner drywall, on top of that plaster. And that gives you a smooth, clean surface. Very easy to do. You, of course, have to put new molding on, you have to extend the electrical and switch boxes out a little bit to make it work. There are special extension plates that can do that. But it’s a very clean, easy way to get pristine walls and ceilings without the hassle of doing a major demolition on those old plaster walls.
I’ve tried every possible configuration of this project. I’ve torn out the plaster, tore out the plaster lath, which is those wood sticks that look like the tomato sticks against the studs behind it.
TOM: Spent hours cleaning it up and shoveling that stuff – which is really heavy, by the way – into dumpsters, getting rid of all that and then putting drywall up. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of mess. And I don’t think I bought myself anything because the next time I did this project, I skinned it with drywall. And I was like, “Dummy, you should’ve been doing it this way all along. This is so much easier.”
And what are you talking about? Losing another inch or two in the width of the room? It really makes no sense at all in doing it any other way but that.
BRAD: Right. OK, OK. Well, I appreciate your opinion on that.