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Plaster Crown Molding

I recently purchased a Boston area 1900's queen anne that has beautiful molding throughout. The prior owners experienced some water damage (new roof has been completed to fix the leak) that damaged the plaster and the crown molding (made of plaster). I've had several "plasterers" come to the house to tell me that they can not help with fixing the plaster crown molding and/or matching the texture of the plaster. Do you have any suggestions on how / who i should look to contact to fix this? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

Re: Plaster Crown Molding

Last year, TOH did some similar work in the "Arlington Italianate House" project in Season 33, Episode 18.

Watch the episode here:

The resources for that show list this contractor for the plaster work:

Bucco Plastering
Beverly, MA
tel. 978-922-1477

But I can't vouch for them, because I've been to Massachusetts only once in my life. :cool:

Re: Plaster Crown Molding

Try contacting the Historic Society in your area they should have info on contractors that do cornice repairs.
Also check with Historic Windsor in Windsor , VT. 05089 Ph 802-674-6752 Fax 802-674-6179.
Do you have a school of the building arts in your area check with them.
Contract the National Park Service they should have info on contractors that do Historic plaster repair.

Re: Plaster Crown Molding

Thank you for your help! I will watch the episode and will reach out give these guys a call. Thanks!!

Re: Plaster Crown Molding

Back many years ago, I was honored to work with some old Plasterers who were very conversant with restoration techniques. Much of their repair work was hand-formed using odd bits of metal, spatulas, spoons of various sizes- whatever worked to get the shape needed was the rule and the tool. These guys are long since retired now and sadly much of what they knew and their artistic skills went away with them.

Larger repairs are well covered in the TOH video where they make molds and cast sections just as was done in the old days.

For smaller crown section repairs, get a piece of sheet metal and cut it into a template with aviation snips and files, matching exactly a nearby section that is undamaged, leaving several inches to ride across ceiling and wall to maintain alignment. Check the fit on both sides of the area to be repaired. Begin as you would with a regular plaster repair and hand-form to the basic shape but undersized. Build up till one last coat will finish it and used your shaped '[email protected]' to form the final coat to shape. Once dry, touch up any defects then sand to blend using sanding blocks and backers of the shape needed to maintain flatness and straightness. The repair will be nearly invisible if you do the job well. Save the template for future use.

This technique can be used to do almost any shaped plaster repair. The old guys I mentioned had tool bags full of shaping templates they had made and kept through the years and could almost always grab the right one from the dozens they had on the first try with nothing but their eye to guide them. That kind of skill takes many years to acquire and do well, and lots of patience too, neither of which interests most of the younger guys these days so this artistry (it's far more than just a learned skill) will be lost soon and more's the pity.


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