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lathe and plaster - surface question

I have an early 1900s home with lathe and plaster walls. One of the rooms needs to be repainted, but we've discovered that the walls were covered with some type of paper (but not wallpaper) and then painted. The paper is starting to crack and become crusty along the edges where it meets the wall trim, though nothing very significant.

I peeled back some of the paper to find a rough-textured plaster (almost like a rough concrete)underneath. My question is:

1. Should we leave the paper in place and just paint over it? We could probably apply some caulk along the edges to keep them down.
2. Should we remove the paper and apply some product to smooth the wall's texture prior to painting (and if so, what product would be best)?

I'd like to do this "the right way" and one that does the least damage to the integrity of the house. Any suggestions are appreciated!

Thanks much!

Re: lathe and plaster - surface question

Well, I am no home repair expert by a long shot, but it would be interesting to know what kind of "paper" is on there if it is not wallpaper? Is it a fairly think papper that was intended to be the equivalent of wallpaper of some sort?

I am re-doing my walls (old wallpaper on old plaster), and after having researched this widely over the past 4-6 weeks, from I can see the clear preference wherever possible is to get down to plaster, and do it right from there.

And having done a few jobs i this house, I have learned the error of opting for "quickness" over doing it right.

If you do not want to be doing this again in five (5) years, I would opt for doing it right, rather than fast.

I hope this helps somehow.

Re: lathe and plaster - surface question

It almost sounds to me like you may not actually have lath and plaster on that wall or in that room. Is it possible that at some point the room was redone and there is actually drywall or possibly a product called rock lath. It replaced the wood lath and was generally 4'x2' so it went up much faster. I'm not sure if was made of gypsum but it is incredibly heavy as compared to drywall. I had it in the upstairs portion of my house (upstairs was added in 1947) and when I removed it the stuff was very heavy. Generally however rock lath had a smooth coat of plaster over it so I doubt this would be your pealing paper problem but I suppose it is possible. My guess would be that at some point drywall was put up in this room either over the plaster or the plaster was taken down. It could be the drywall paper being pulled off the gypsum which is leaving a rough surface underneath.

You may be able to try cutting away a small section of wall say under the baseboard to see what you actually have going on. If it is actually lath and plaster I'm not really sure what the paper would be. Good luck and I hope you are able to solve the problem.


Re: lathe and plaster - surface question

The peeling that you are describing sounds like my ceiling. We live in an early 1900's home. Our ceiling is rock lath that was painted over with calcimine paint. It is a type of chalk paint. It breaks/peels away in a wall paper style. To get rid of it on our ceiling we had to scrape the ceiling and then wipe it down with a large wet sponge 3 times!!!! After that we could paint over it with regular paint. I hope that helps you.

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