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oldrowhouse
removing cheap paneling

My first post to this forum! We are buying our first house, an 1875 brick rowhouse. The previous owner had been living in the house while gradually making repairs. We are lucky that he has already done a lot of the hard stuff.

However, almost the entire upstairs walls (around 450 square feet) and one long wall downstairs are still covered by this cheap white-ish plywood paneling. Based on what we have seen on the first floor of the home, we think the panelling was placed right over the studs (yikes) on one side of the house, over brick or thin drywall on the other side, and over drywall on the interior walls. We obviously want to tear this out and repair/replace/install drywall OR plaster. My parents, who have a lot of experience renovating old homes, are really pushing us to plaster the walls, but I've been looking and am having trouble finding someone in this area with experience actually plastering walls from scratch (not just repairing plaster). Drywall seems to be a lot more common

So a few questions:
-is plaster really that superior to drywall? Any tips on finding an experienced plasterer? I've been searching angie's list but mostly I've just found people who say they do plaster repairs

-How much dust is typically raised by this type of project? We have a baby on the way (will be here in 6 months), and we'd like to take care of stuff that will raise a lot of dust before he/she gets here

-We also need to put in central AC, although due to cost it may have to wait a year or two. Would it make sense to install the AC at the same time as we pull out the panelling in order to run the ducts more easily?

-Realistically, is drywall DIY-able for an inexperienced couple (we've never done anything more than paint)? Or do we really need a pro?

Thank you so much for any help! We are excited and intimidated by this whole process

A. Spruce
Re: removing cheap paneling

Personally, I'm not a fan of plaster, especially in this day and age of drywall. Like you, I've found it difficult even to find someone who can repair plaster, let alone install it from scratch. Stucco is much the same, all anyone wants to do today is that damn EIFS crap, they don't know how to do 1" thick stucco that is actually worth having, but I digress.

I would go with drywall, it is faster and easier than plaster, nearly anyone can do it, and it's certainly easier to repair later if there is a problem/damage. Other benefits are that it's easier to find studs for hanging things in drywall than it is plaster.

As far as installing the HVAC system, if you will have any duct work in the walls, then absolutely have that installed now, then you won't have to disturb walls later to hook in the mechanicals. If all the duct work is in the attic or crawl space, then it doesn't matter when it is installed and can be done when the rest of the equipment is installed.

MLB Construction
Re: removing cheap paneling

this will be one of the few instances that i disagree with spruce.

i prefer blueboard and plaster over plain old drywall by a mile. every job i do is plastered unless otherwise specified by a customer and if that happens i'll still try to talk them into blueboard and plaster. a plaster finish is considerably harder and more durable than drywall. plaster walls take paint better. plaster walls can be wall papered, stripped and wall papered again, drywall can't. i never had a problem finding a stud. a chair, an elbow, a piece of furniture can damage drywall but not plaster. drywall is easier to patch, mainly because you'll be patching it often. plaster is not difficult to patch but you'll barely ever do it

to find a good plasterer, ask at your local lumber yard, not a big box store.

dj1
Re: removing cheap paneling

I think it's what you are used to and find easier or more functional to use.

Out here, in my city, the majority of the houses were built with drywall, the plain old fashioned cheap drywall. All plaster homes around here are the older types, built before 1945 or so. New construction (tracks) are drywall. Most new custom homes are drywall too.

Lynne
Re: removing cheap paneling

Taping and sanding drywall is a dusty business, and if you don't do it right the seams will show. Worth the money to have professionals do it, in my opinion.

ordjen
Re: removing cheap paneling

I don't think I have ever seen blueboard and plaster other than on episodes of This Old House, certainly not in the chicago area or the Pacific NW where I now live.

Have to disagree with MBH Construction: I have removed hundreds of rooms of wallpaper from drywall walls. The critical part is sealing the walls well before the wallpaper is put up in the first place! There needs to be a water barrier to keep the water needed to loosen the paste from continuing into the wall. A quick coat of oil based primer or paint works the best, although there are water based quick prime products on the market for pre-wallpapering.

A. Spruce
Re: removing cheap paneling
MLB Construction wrote:

this will be one of the few instances that i disagree with spruce.

Sorry, disagreeing with me is against TOH terms of service, we're gonna have to ban you! :p:):cool:

MLB Construction
Re: removing cheap paneling

lol, i'll save you the trouble and just stick my head in a vice and tighten it up a bit

A. Spruce
Re: removing cheap paneling
MLB Construction wrote:

lol, i'll save you the trouble and just stick my head in a vice and tighten it up a bit

Kinda sorta on topic, and something up your ally, a few years back we had a troll who wanted to use caulking as joint compound. He also was positing the notion that pneumatic staples would be better and faster than screws or nails for attaching drywall to the framing. You wouldn't need the vice, your head would naturally explode from the insanity! LOL ;) I looked for the thread, but it no longer exists. Jack and Jkirk will remember it though.

Mastercarpentry
Re: removing cheap paneling

A vise isn't necessary- I borrowed a large C-Ckamop from my Uncle Fester :p

Another vote for drywall here. Plaster may be superior in some ways but (and this is the big problem) finding someone competent to handle it is getting tougher every day. Plaster over blue-board has nowhere near the durability of the old lath and layered approach, it's hardly better than sheetrock in my opinion. And if you use sizing and primer under wallpaper as you should, removing it from sheetrock is just as easy as with plaster. In over 25 years of being in the building trades here, other than with restorations I've seen plaster walls used only a few times- once in a room full of wet cell batteries; once in a manufacturing facility that had German owners who wanted only plaster; and once where the owner wanted the thermal mass properties of plaster walls for HVAC purposes.

It's probably a coin toss till things need repairing. If or when that happens you'll want sheetrock, not plaster. Especially if you're doing it yourself.

Phil

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