• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to repair a plaster ceiling.


    1. Screw plaster washers to ceiling along and around cracked area; be sure to drive screws into wood lath above.
    2. Use trowel to spread joint compound onto ceiling, covering the repaired area.
    3. Press insect screen into wet compound; smooth flat with trowel.
    4. Allow joint compound to dry at least 24 hours.
    5. Sand away high spots and ridges with 100-grit sandpaper; fill low spots with joint compound.
    6. Apply another thin coat of compound, if necessary, let dry and sand smooth again.
    7. Once repair is complete, apply one coat of primer followed by two topcoats of paint.
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    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Working overhead is always a bit uncomfortable, but the results are well worth the effort
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      Tools List

      • drill
      • ladder
      • plaster trowel
      • plaster hawk
        Plaster Hawk

      Shopping List

      1. Plaster washers, are screwed to ceiling to secure cracked plaster

      2. 1 5/8-inch decking screws, for attaching plaster washers to ceiling

      3. Joint compound, used to cover repaired ceiling

      4. Insect screen, used to reinforce joint compound coat

      5. 100-grit sandpaper, for smoothing dried joint compound