How To Repair Plaster

Plaster walls are common in older homes and over time can shift in place and cause cracks or even crumbling to occur. We’ve listed out a series of steps to help you patch your plaster damage and get your walls solidified and back to feeling like new.

Before you make any moves on your plaster repair, you’ll want to take a close look at the damaged areas to ensure no moisture, mold, or obvious structural issues are present. 

When you’re ready to proceed, the next preliminary step you’ll want to take is feeling out the damaged areas with your hand, pressing gently against the areas that need repair to determine where the plaster has detached from the lath that it adheres to. If the plaster feels really loose, keep widening the area you’re feeling to see where the plaster starts to feel secured to the wall. This will help you get a better idea of the total area needed to repair. 

Here’s where our action steps begin!  Using plaster washers and drywall screws, you’ll be reattaching the plaster to the lath. Start screwing the washers in nearest the secure plaster areas, working your way in toward the crack or main damage area. Add a washer every 3 or so inches. Don’t screw these washers in too tight, just enough to see the screw head go below the surface of the washer. Pro tip: If the screw keeps spinning and doesn’t feel like it’s grabbing onto anything, you’re likely between the lath strips, move it over slightly and try again until you feel traction. If you create any small cracks around the washers don’t sweat it, you’ll be filling the area with compound anyways, just ensure you use enough washers to stabilize the plaster to the lath supports. 

Now that you’ve got the plaster secured to the lath as best as possible, you’ll want to scrape away any crumbles or plaster debris that may be present. 

Next, use a setting compound to fill in any large gaps, holes, or cracks. Keep in mind this compound is super strong and is difficult to sand, so be mindful to keep it level with (or below) the surface of the existing plaster. 

Once the setting compound has been applied, you’ll want to use a premixed joint compound to finish off the area. Add a minimum of 2 nice coats of compound using a drywall knife, leveling off any ridges as you go. 

After the final coat is dry, buff around the edges using a sanding sponge (or similar). Plaster walls can vary in texture and thickness, so when sanding do your best to match the feel of the wall that you are repairing. We’re wanting to aim for a wall that is solid, if there is texture or a curve to the wall/area that you are fixing, having a super smooth surface may not be top priority. Use your eye to best match the feel of the whole surface. 

Taking on a plaster repair can seem overwhelming, but remember that with some focused energy and little bit of time, you can have your plaster damage repaired and feeling fresh again. If you have any questions about your plaster repair, or any other home project that’s on your mind, call and talk it out with our team at (616) 241-2655. No matter how big or small, we love helping folks accomplish their next project.