• Hometalker
  • Richmond, KY
Asked on Dec 10, 2018

How do you fix actual plaster walls that are 90 years old and cracked?

SusyDNaomie Moore aka baileyanddaisey, Castaic CAGk


I’m looking at a house built in 1924. It’s plaster walls are cracked and uneven. They have wall paper that would need to be removed. I’m concerned what removing the wall paper will do to the plaster. Can you skim coat them? Can they be fixed?

4 answers
  • Redcatcec
    on Dec 10, 2018

    Hi Becky,

    It would be best to remove the wallpaper and then do any repairs needed on 1 surface. More than likely the wallpaper will take some of the wall with it, you'll be left with the fixing of all the damage at once.

    Plus, the wallpaper may not be sticking in all areas. Best to you.

  • Gk
    on Dec 10, 2018

    I think I would try a steamer first. I have heard that a gas/propane powered steamer works better than an electric steamer. Hopefully you can find a place to rent one. The next part would be removing the glue--1 part of wallpaper stripper to 3 parts of water. Sponge down the wall with this solution and then gently scape the glue off with a wide drywall knife/spatula. You could also try 1 part of liquid fabric softener to 3 parts water rather than the wallpaper stripper to get the glue off. You can skim coat plaster. If you feel there is too much damage for you to handle it might be a good idea to call in a professional to see if they can be repaired or whether they are beyond repair. Sometimes it is nice to get some professional advice so you can move forward from there.

  • Yes they can be fixed. I have a 1926 home with plaster walls. If you are on the east coast it will be easier to find a good old time plasterer. West coast a bit harder to find. After my parents passed and all my dad's old cronies had retired or passed themselves, it took me several years to find a decent plasterer. If the walls are smooth, much easier to skim coat. You Tube is chock full of tutorials. In my case the walls are highly sculptured and I am just not good enough to make a seamless repair. If you have not yet made an offer, get some licensed professionals in for bids. Use these bids in your offer to reduce the price of the home, as of you hire out, it's not cheap. If the price seems low for repair, think twice. Get at least 3 bids for wallpaper removal and wall repair. Even if you attempt to DIY yourself, just know it will be a job, and not a quick fix. A headache, yes, but if done right, you can to bring the house back in shape in all its glory and worth the effort, if that is something you wish to do.

    • Gotcha! Where I would rather be myself. Lucky you! Google or flip through the yellow pages and see what you can find. In many rural areas people do like to help one another. Hang out at the local hardware store and chat up the locals. You never know what might happen. You can always give it a go yourself. Want some plaster tutorials? I will take an old house (with all the challenges), over a new build any day of the week. Unless you have the coin to build from the ground up (most people don't), with a reputable builder to get exactly what you want, I prefer an older home with charm and character too.

  • SusyD
    on Dec 10, 2018

    From past experience I would get the opinion of a plasterer. Do areas sound boxey or hollow when you knock? If I hadn’t the ready funds to do a full job with plaster board should the worst happen and too much crumbles away, I’d paper over it all with a forgiving paper, albeit a less than perfect job.

    In this case I really think it depends on how much you want to spend.

    A plasterer May be happy for you to strip the walls and remove the old loose plaster before fixing or renewing. If it is lathe and plaster, I can assure you that it’s a terribly dirty and messy job.

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