Nail guns and wall plaster

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Verdeboy, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    I'm about to buy a cordless Dewalt nail gun. I remember reading somewhere that you can install crown molding or baseboard over plaster by shooting a nail directly through the wall plaster into the wood lath. Has anyone tried this?

    My one experience with trying to install crown molding over plaster was with a regular hammer and nails, and all my nails just bent. :(

    I know drilling holes is an option, but I'd rather fire a few nails and be done with it. This Dewalt takes 16 gauge brads from 1.25" to 2.5".
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    I wonder how you would know where the lath was? Give it a try and let us know how it works out :D . For crown, you might consider installing a backer strip in the wall-ceiling corner (ripped to the crown angle on its face), then nail the crown to it. Then any screwups associated with nailing into the plaster would be confined to the backer strip.
  3. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    Okay, then. Is there a formula to determine how far apart the wooden lath strips are--like there is for studs?

    I wonder if the plaster itself is strong enough to hold molding without going into the lath.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    No formula for the lath strips...sort of random. I'd be worried the plaster would shatter.
  5. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    The lath is normally around 3/8" apart, but I wouldn't count on it, and I doubt a studfinder would be of any use. Thinking back to the plaster walls I've seen from behind, it looks like the lath was eyeballed at best. In any case, I'm with Jim; real plaster is pretty brittle, unlike gypsum board. The nail gun might be able to zap a 16 or 18-gauge nail in there before the plaster had a chance to shatter, but I wouldn't bet on it. For crown, I'd be tempted to glue a backer into the corner somehow; for base molding, go for the studs.
  6. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    If it came down to using a backer strip, I'd drill right through the plaster with a 1/8 inch masonry bit and screw in 3/16" tapcons. If that didn't work, I'd try finding some kind of plaster wall anchor. Then I'd use my nail gun to nail the molding to the backer strip.

    By the way, this is just a theoretical exercise. There's probably more of a chance that I'd be doing this in an Adobe house where I live now in SW NM. Anyone have experience with drilling or nailing into Adobe?
  7. galacon

    galacon Master Electrician & Engineer

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    Progrip, baby, Progrip!:p
  8. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    Please translate.:eek:
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    adobe

    As a coworker told me the first time I worked in an adobe house and I asked him how hard it was to drill a hole in the wall, he said, "How hard is it to drill dirt?" The same thing applies to your question about nailing. How tight will dirt hold a nail?
  10. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    I guess I'll have to practice using my new Dewalt cordless nail gun in some other material. :D
  11. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    I'm assuming Progrip is some miracle glue.
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