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lillfurybug
Asbestos in lathe and plaster walls?

Hi all,

Our Massachusetts home was built in 1900 and we appear to have all original lathe and plaster walls throughout almost the entire building. We are not planning a renovation at this point, but should we be considered about asbestos in plaster of this age? I only plan to do small things like drilling furniture anchors into the wall, etc. But if you read anything about drilling small holes into asbestos-containing material, there is a lengthy protocol even for that, including the shaving cream in a cup, masks, PPE suit, etc.

Thanks,

Heather

HandyAndyInMtAiry
Re: Asbestos in lathe and plaster walls?

Heather,

Why would you think there is asbestos in plaster? Just because something is old, does not mean it has asbestos. Please don't tear out any plaster wall or ceailings. Repair them if necessary. Plaster has so many more positive attributes than sheetrock. There is nothing in plaster that anything can grow. Much higher resistance for insulation. and many more.

Plaster used in the walls and ceiling in my house have only lime, water sand and horsehair. The surface is so very smooth and stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Lime was once the most common material used in interior mixes. When mixed with water, sand and horsehair, the peanut-buttery substance was applied and allowed to set. Once dry, you were left with a hard (yet still somewhat pliable), durable surface that closely resembled a slab of limestone.

Around the early 1900's, however, gypsum became the “rock” of choice in American plastering. Made up of calcium sulfate dihydrate, gypsum is still the standard we see in most interior mixes today

I suggest if you want to hang pictures on the wall, is to use a picture rail. That is actually what was used in the era of your house. You do not have to worry so much about a little lime dust if you drill into the wall. When you so, make sure that you drill into one of the studs in the wall. The lathe will not hold up anything of any weight. Plus it will cause the keys to break and the plaster to fall off the wall or ceiling.

Andrew

Handy Andy In Mt Airy NC

lillfurybug
Re: Asbestos in lathe and plaster walls?

Andy,

If you Google the subject you will find many folks noting it was used occasionally in plaster, possibly in the skim coat or mixed on site, as opposed to in the manufactured like mixture. Seems more likely later on though (post 1920?). Note it's listed on this site's page about asbestos!

  I LOVE our walls and wouldn't imagine taking them down, but we have a two year old and we need to anchor tipping furniture. I don't want to expose her to asbestos... but I also don't want to have to go crazy with precautions like tyvek suits  (ha) if the likelihood is slim or nil. Thanks!

HandyAndyInMtAiry
Re: Asbestos in lathe and plaster walls?

Heather,

I am happy to hear that you are not planning on taking them down and replacing them with ugly sheetrock. As long as you keep the area wet, then very little if any dust will be generated. If you are really concerned, then have some tested. I bet it will come back nil. 99% of the time plaster was mixed with ingredients that was found on the build site. Crush lime stone into powder add some sand, water and horsehair.  The plaster that was used around the heat pipe may have had a little in it, but not the plaster walls and ceilings. Ingredients were not used if they did not service a specific purpose.

There were very few items that were puchased from a hardware store, only because there were very few stores and they were only in the areas of large population. I have worked with plaster walls and ceilings most all of my life, and I have never used a mask or anything else really.

I would not take what you read on websites to heart. Most of them are designed nad written by people that do not even live in this country. Much less have any experience in working with hand tools or working on any thing in the construction trade. But the decision is up to you if you want to have it tested.

Andrew

Handy Andy In Mt Airy NC

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