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Restore plaster walls after fire

We recently had a large fire in our 1912 neocolonial and unfortunately due to fire and water damage had to remove more than half of the original wood lath and horse hair plaster that had stood up well for a century.

I know we can replace with blueboard and plaster veneer.

My question is: Is there a more historically accurate or better quality option? What are all the choices to consider (i.e. metal lath _ plaster, blueboard + plaster veneer). Cost is not as much an issue because our insurance covers replacing with similar quality so we can use the best replication of original plaster.

Thanks - I am sure I will have additional posts on other threads as we try to restore as much of the original and period construction that we can.

Re: Restore plaster walls after fire

I'm a historic preservation carpenter/foreman. We work on old houses, and last summer we restored a 1817 house, which, unfortunately entailed gutting the entire first floor of the original core structure. The owners being very preservation-minded to begin with, (the house is in a village that is a National Landmark Historic District), were open to re-plastering one room with the original three-coat lime finish, on the salvaged split heart pine lath. The framing was all replaced, but the room appears as originally. We obtained all of the materials (except the sand) from Virginia Lime Works. It's definitely a more labor-intensive way to go. We used a 1/4" crown stapler to fasten the lath. It's much better than trying to re-nail the brittle lath of 200 years. We found the most time-consuming aspect was filtering in the horsehair at a slow uniform rate. If it's wadded and clumped, it isn't doing anything. There are some tutorials on Youtube that may be helpful, search "Lime Plaster" and Va Lime Works.


So, one room was done as an example of a museum-quality restoration, patched areas on the exterior brick walls were also done with lime/horsehair, but the remainder of the house was done with blueboard and two-coat plaster, for speed and economy. It comes out looking like this:


Hank Bauer
Re: Restore plaster walls after fire

Sombreuil_ Mongrel is correct Virginia is an excellent source for lime plaster.
Depending on your location you may want to check with some of the following.
Bois Aise de, Montreal Inc.
For wood lath they have distributors in the S.E. US.
Also Mike Wye & Associates they have Sawn Oak and Sawn Larch lath and Lime mortar Haired and unhaired.
If you have plaster remaining after the fire, keep in mine that the heat from a fire can cause plaster to crystallize and turn powdery or chalky.
Also excess water along with the heat will cause plaster to delaminate.
If you elect to go back with conventional three coat plaster applied on metal lath check out the Wood Fiber Plaster for the scratch and brown coats with a lime guaged finish it would be the best you can get.

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