Remove plaster and lathe or leave it?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by nelsonba, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. nelsonba

    nelsonba New Member

    Messages:
    116
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I'm debating whether I should remove a plaster and lathe ceiling in the basement or try to drywall over it. It's in decent shape, but I want to put in several recessed lights. Fishing the wires may prove difficult and I'll have to knock several holes in it anyway. What's your vote and why? The room is about 13' x 28'.
  2. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I've done both and would rather not demolish plaster again in my entire life. They used to use horse hair to reinforce that stuff. Leave it there, cover it over and it will simply increase your sound attenuation and fire resistance.
  3. jar546

    jar546 In the Trades

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    I just did an electrical job that included recessed lighting where the contractor left the plaster in place and I had to work around it and by the time I pulled down and made holes where they were needed, I ended up taking down almost 50% of the ceiling.

    Take it down and don't put another layer of remodeling. Do it right the first time.
  4. redwoodvotesoften1

    redwoodvotesoften1 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Southern Man Showed me how to add layers of newspapers to the outhouse wall to insulate it in the winter... Kinda the same thing as the plaster and lathe... Extra insullation never hurts.
  5. spetrucco

    spetrucco DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Southeast PA
    plaster & lathe

    I have been where you are!
    I kept the orginal plaster ceilings b/c they were in good condition.
    I would keep them.

    My advice for the high hats is to save the $60 on the 6" bit and buy a couple of masonary blades for your angle grinder. It makes a hell of a mess ( and you will have to do a little spakling) but its is the only thing I had that would cut the plaster.
    -Shawn
  6. molo

    molo Member

    Messages:
    842
    Location:
    cold new york
    I'm warning you, DO NOT TOUCH IT!
  7. pmoe

    pmoe New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    Norwood OH
    That's what I would do.

    I just tore out a bathroom where a very poor drywall job was done on top of an original plaster and lathe wall. The tape had busted everywhere and I wanted to insulate the room, so I demolished it all. A lot of work, but I feel sure it will be done correctly this time and won't have to be touched again.
  8. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    It's a terrible job and you'd be surprised what it weighs. Even knowing that and having done it before, I always do things the right way and I would bring her down and put up new.

    Also you don't need insulation on your basement ceiling.

    Tom
  9. GregO

    GregO New Member

    Messages:
    73
    Location:
    Virginia
    plaster

    Remove it all. Yeah it's a mess, but it will allow you to inspect and fix anything that may be hidden and needing attention. Could be a big can of worms, but it's worth it in the long run. Do it once, do it right.
    Greg
  10. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    Benefits of taking it down would be to add an extra 3/4" inch height to the ceiling and also to inpect the joists and whatever else is in the ceiling which is a great idea if you are going to spend a lot of money to finish the room. Also as others have said it provides wonderful sound resistance. It would probably take you and another guy not even a day to knock it down, bag it up, and bring the bags outside.

    Cons: Lot of rubbish removal, lot of hard work, loss of sound insulation and fire protection, little bit of extra money to remove rubbish(not a lot).

    A good electrician with the right fishing tools would only break a few small holes to fish the wires through. Nothing even close to 50% of the ceiling. More like 2-5% of the ceiling would come down.

    If it were me, the deciding factor would be that I would want to inpect the joists for damage or termites or whatever. I would take it down if it were my house.
  11. jar546

    jar546 In the Trades

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    I just love how you go to another thread just to dis me. You bad boy. :)

    There was no point to your statement because you too are advising the poster to tear down the lathe and plaster just as I did.

    Maybe after you have worked in thousands of houses with lathe and plaster, rock lathe and other types you will eventually find out that there are plenty of situations where the paint is the only thing holding the plaster on the ceiling and walking in the room causes it to fall, especially below a bathroom where there was previous water damage. But then again, you are an expert.
  12. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Hmm, it's a tough call. As soon as I see L&P my desire is to bash it all to hell; I can't stand the stuff. In my opinion, drywalling over it is a terrible and lazy way to do the job; it just complicates everything down the line in case you have to repair or install anything later on. Not to mention that any imperfections in the L&P cieling might not be apparent now, but when you drywall over it, you will get the imperfections in your boarding. At least if you start from scratch, you can shim out where you need to address any settling in the floor joists.

    If it were me, and I peered up into the ceiling cavity and didn't see any insulation up there...that would settle things and I would tear it all down and insulate the ceiling properly and then drywall it. But since you are installing recessed lighting, if you are using proper mounting boxes, it just makes sense to open everything up to give yourself ease of access to install the boxes and run wire properly and to code. And if you did have the ceiling opened up, you could use the opportunity to prewire for voice/data if this is a living area.
  13. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    Jar,

    Don't be so full of yourself. I'm simply stating what I think are the pros and cons of leaving it or taking it down. That's what he asked for. I said if it were my house I would take it down to inpect joists and hidden utilities. If he sheetrocks over the plaster it wouldn't matter how loose it was because the sheetrock would hold everything together.

    As far as fishing electrical wiring, I still stand by my earlier statement that it is only necessary to break small holes here and there (about 3 to 4 inches in diameter) to fish wiring through. That's with walls and ceilings closed. Nowhere even near 50%. I can't even imagine why you needed to break so much.

    If you look at the thread where someone inquired about putting valve on hot water side of water heater I agreed with what you said in my post.

    Listen, I call it like it is. Don't see why you are trying to make this personal. Believe me, it's not for me. Am I always right? No. But believe me, I'm right more times than I'm wrong.
  14. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    I also vote for "tough call to make over the internet".

    If it's in good shape, it's often a lot easier & just as well to leave it. Make the holes you need, fish the wires, patch... It's definitely do-able, we do it all the time, here - we have a lot of plaster & lathe in NYC. In fact, that's how I learned what I know about electrical - used to do a lot of plaster-repair work for an electrician.

    If I ripped out all the plaster & sheetrocked, in every ceiling or wall he needed to fish wires through? A whole lot of 2-3 day jobs would have been month-long jobs. It's a whole extra order of magnitude, really.

    This all assumes you know how to patch P&L. Don't imagine you can use a remodel recessed fixture in plaster, the plaster's too thick for the clips to work.


    Drywalling over the old plaster can work, and sometimes, it's the best solution. If you have localized damage - say, under a bathroom - but the rest of the ceiling is sound, and it's an occupied space where you don't want to have all that wreckage? The best thing is to remove just the damaged part, shim out the joists/studs to the same level as the sound plaster, and sheetrock over the whole lot with 5/8" drywall. (1/2" is too floppy, will telegraph irregularities too much, & look like crap)

    It all depends on the condition of the plaster, really; and that's a judgment call that needs an experienced eye, on-site, can't be done over the 'net.
  15. Rocknroj

    Rocknroj New Member

    Messages:
    23
    It is a big mess that weighs alot..

    I just gutted my small 5 X 8 bathroom.. Lath and plaster gone.. Many bags of debris..A huge dusty mess. At the dump they weighed my load at 900lbs! And that does not unclude the floor, ceiling or fixtures!
  16. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Must have been a really small bathroom.

    Tom
  17. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    It all depends on the condition of the plaster, really; and that's a judgment call that needs an experienced eye, on-site, can't be done over the 'net.




    Wait....did someone already say that?
  18. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Plagiarism! Quoted without attribution... I'm gonna sue!:D
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