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plaster ceiling on 100 yr old house

My house is approx 100 yrs.old. I live in Chicago, Il.
A couple of weeks ago my second floor bathroon sink over-
flowed (the water was running for about 2hrs!)and ruined
my living room ceiling. It has these hairline cracks and
some areas have started to peel. I've gotten 3 different
opinions as far as how to fix it. The ceiling is plaster
and has this beautiful molding trim that looks a little
droopy in certain sections. My question to you is this,
should I have the old plaster ceiling removed and replaced
with plaster board, or should we just fill in the cracks
and place the plaster board over the existing ceiling?

Re: plaster ceiling on 100 yr old house

In my opinion you may as well try to fill the cracks and see if it works. Since removal and replacement is a huge undertaking what do you have to lose. Unless you feel like it's about to fall I'd fill it in.

Re: plaster ceiling on 100 yr old house

It's possible that the hairline cracks have been the for a long long time, you just didn't see them. The leak caused them to be discolored with dirt or mineral stain and more visible. Plaster usually holds up well to some leakage a lot better than drywall.

If the plaster is tight to the ceiling, if it were me, I would do nothing until every thing is completely dried out. Then try painting an area first with oil based Kilz to seal and block stain then a coat of paint. The cracks may just disappear.

If the cracks are still viable you could have painters cloth installed over the plaster and paint rather than pulling it down or have a plasterer skim coat the ceiling.

Re: plaster ceiling on 100 yr old house

I haven't tried patching cracks in my plaster, but I have found a great product for painting over water stains from a leaky roof. I used 'UPSHOT' (comes in a can that sprays upward) from KILZ. It is fantastic and covered the stains completely. We had storm damage and multiple roof leaks. I gave a light coat of the UPSHOT and repeated it after a few minutes. It is undetectible. The upshot comes in a version that is for AGED white ceilings. It has a slight antique color, but the light coats matched perfectly. The paint on my ceilings is about 25 years old. I would try the patching first and then try the upshot, provided you have an aged white ceiling. Hope this helps!

Re: plaster ceiling on 100 yr old house

There is some great information including videos on this website for repairing cracks in plaster ceilings. If they are larger cracks and the ceiling looks like it's coming down, try plaster washers. I've tried them, and they work great! With some of those and some drywall mud, you can make your ceilings look just like new, a little paint, and you'd never guess there was a problem there. Just go to the how to section and look for repairing cracks in plaster ceilings.

Re: plaster ceiling on 100 yr old house

The cracks were made worse (go figure) by the water leak. Given that your paint started peeling after the water leak suggests that there is a layer of calcimine paint against the plaster. The paint and calcimine are easily removed with a wallpaper steamer and some elbow grease. This is a must if you wish any paint to stay adhered to the ceiling. You do not need to remove and replace the existing plaster. Anything you replace it with even modern plaster will not be as good as the old plaster. Anything you replace it with will be inferior!If your plaster is loose (this can be determined by placing your thumb across the crack then pushing on one side of the crack then on the other side, if there is movement across the crack it is unstable and must be addressed if you wish the crack not to reappear)It needs to be stabilized. Until the plaster is stable not repair will last, once it is stabilized any repair will work. Go to this address http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,1628100,00.html and you will find the easiest solution to stabilizing plaster I have found. This takes substantially less time and effort than screws and washers. Screws and washers while easy to install take a lot of work to cover up and in the end there has been no fundamental reinforcement of the plaster only a cosmetic cover-up. After the plaster is stable a thin layer of joint compound will cover cosmetic issues you have. Good Luck!

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