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


    1 Measure area of plaster wall that's loose or damaged and needs to be replaced.
    2 Cut a drywall patch slightly larger than the damaged wall section.
    3 Hold drywall patch against plaster wall, and mark its outline with utility knife.
    4 Using a utility knife, score the plaster along the patch outline.
    5 Pry off the loose plaster with a painter's tool; clean up the debris.
    6 Set the drywall patch against the wall and secure it with 1 ¼-inch drywall screws.
    7 Cover the seams around the patch with adhesive-backed nylon joint tape.
    8 Apply a thin coat of joint compound to the taped seams and to screw heads.
    9 Allow compound to dry, then sand lightly with 150-grit sandpaper.
    10 Apply a second, slightly wider coat of joint compound to the seams.
    11 Allow second coat of compound to dry; sand with 150-grit sandpaper.
    12 Apply a third, even wider coat of joint compound to the seams.
    13 Smooth dried compound with 320-grit sandpaper.
    14 Finish the wall with a coat of primer and two paint topcoats.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Repairing plaster is always dusty, dirty work, but it's not particularly difficult
Ask TOH users about Drywall & Plaster

Contribute to This Story Below

      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • utility knife
        Utility knife
      • 100-foot tape measure
        Tape measure
        used to measure damaged wall area
      • drill
        used to drive drywall screws
      • drywall knife
        Drywall knife
        used to apply joint compound
      • plaster trowel
        Plaster hawk
        used to hold joint compound
      • painter's tool
        Painter's tool

      Shopping List

      1. 3/8-inch-thick drywall

      used to patch plaster

      2. Straightedge

      used to make straight drywall cuts

      3. 1 ¼-inch drywall screws

      used to secure drywall patch

      4. Adhesive-backed nylon joint tape

      used to bridge seams between drywall and plaster

      5. Joint compound

      used to fill seams around drywall patch

      6. 150-grit and 320-grit sandpaper

      used to sand dried joint compound

      7. Primer and paint

      8. Tarp

      used to protect floor

      9. Wet/dry vacuum

      used to collect dust and debris

      10. Plastic trash bags

      used to collect plaster pieces