Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Molding & Carpentry>repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?
7 posts / 0 new
Last post
repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?

We have a 1939 home in Blacksburg, Virginia. Our dining room ceiling leaked due to an ice dam last month, and my husband cut a hole to allow the water to drain rather than spread. The DR ceiling already had many cracks, despite recent remudding and painting - possibly, according to a painter, due in some places to condensation from pipes to the bathroom above.

One contractor suggested we address the hole + many cracks by adding a layer of 3/8" sheetrock. This would cover a portion of the crown moulding (about half of the top lip, I'm told).

Another contractor suggested spot repairing the ceiling, including opening up the crack that may be due to pipe condensation and insulating the pipes.

I would like to have a smooth, fully repaired ceiling but I am sad to cover up any of the original crown moulding. I don't trust that the moulding could be removed and replaced without damage. Do you have any recommendations about how we should proceed?

Thanks! Emily

Re: repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?

I'm a big fan of trying to keep the original plaster in old homes.

However, I'm also a big fan of saving money where I can.

These two conflict.

The molding should hold up okay if removed. Any minor damage could be repaired with a resin for that purpose.

Be careful placing drywall on top of plaster. You are adding weight to the ceiling. More than likely you will be okay, but over time it could cause issues.

I would fix the plumbing issue first.

Drew at Sawhorse
Re: repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?

I completed a project like this about 4-5 years ago where we overlaid 1/4" drywall on all the ceilings. To keep the drywall back from the trim we put up picture mould with the bigger end facing in and the drywall butted up to that. Then caulk and finish the trim and drywall.

Re: repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?

It's hard to say what's best without seeing the condition of the ceiling. One thing is clear though, step one ,fix the plumbing. Without doing this you run the risk of doing it all again sooner or later. A decent plaster contractor should be able to fix the problems for less than having to add a hole layer of sheetrock, taping ,floating, etc. But again that depends on how bad the ceiling really is. I do not recommend using sheetrock mud to patch plaster, as this normally ends up cracking in time, unless the guy really knows what he's doing which is sadly becoming very rare.

Timothy Miller
Re: repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?

Howdy, I am installing 1/2" drywall on my plaster ceilings. Plaster is heavy so i am adding extra screws to support the whole installation. I agree opening and insulating the pipes in the ceiling so condensation is not a future issue is a good upgrade.
Your old plaster ceiling cracking is due to the plaster failing due to age and wear. When the plaster globes that are pushed into the spaces of the lath, when the ceiling is made, break off then the weight of the plaster stars cracking of the ceiling. Installing the drywall is much cheaper then removing and re plastering the ceiling. Ceiling trim molding allows you not to have to tie the new ceiling into the walls and looks very nice. I am using it and MDF not wood again as it is much less cost and holds up real well. .

Re: repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?

Find a plasterer and have him repair the ceiling from the sound of it it shouldn't be to expensive a repair. You could have him fix the hole and cracks then bond and replaster the ceiling and you wont have to remove the trim. Hope this helps:)


Re: repair plaster ceiling or add sheet rock layer?

Thanks so much, everyone, for taking the time to reply. I think I have a good feel for the pros and cons of sheetrock vs. repairing the plaster, plus tips for sheetrock and the reassurance that someone who knows what he's doing could remove and replace the crown moulding if we go that route. And I hear loud and clear to check on the pipes first of all.

I will see if I can find a skilled enough plaster person and begin there, unless the plumbing over that room is so extensive that it stops making sense to repair.

Drew at Sawhorse, please say hello to Jerome for me. I rented from him in L5P for many years and he and Norene were very good to me.

Thanks again, all.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.