Salem, Oregon has many, many houses that were built prior to the advent and popular use of sheet rock for walls and ceilings. Prior to that, one of the common construction methods was lathe and plaster.
The procedure for doing lathe and plaster is, to greatly simplify it, attach thin strips of wood (lathe) perpendicular to the studs/ceiling joists, and then cover the lathe with plaster. The plaster would then ooze through the gaps in the lathe securing it to the walls and/or ceiling. Again, that is the process in a nutshell.
Over time, even with sheet rocked walls and ceilings, houses settle and cracks develop. If the cracks aren’t taken care of and if, as in the case of today’s post, they are on the ceiling of a 1st floor room, the plaster sometimes loosens up away from the lathe and starts to sag.
This is obviously not a good situation. First, imaging sitting in your living room with this cracked, loose, and sagging chunk of your ceiling above your head. One good round from Wii Dance Party in the upstairs bedroom and you could have chunks of ceiling in your lap. Secondly, the aesthetics are somewhat less than desirable.
In approaching this project the hope was the plaster could be reattached to the lathe without breaking out large sections of it thereby requiring the need to sheet rock the ceiling. Holes with countersink were drilled along the crack to allow for sheet rock screws to be put in to reattach the ceiling plaster to the underlying lathe.
As luck would have it on this project, there were no large breakouts of the plaster during the reattachment process. Once everything was secured the screw holes and cracks were filled with Fix-It-All™ patching compound. For those not familiar with this product it sets up fast (30 minutes). Once dry it can be sanded and drilled and it does not shrink to create dimples nearly as much as straight sheet rock compound does.
Once the Fix-It-All™ was dry, a skim coat of sheet rock compound was applied over the top to smooth the area to give a nice base to come back and add texture to the patched areas. With the skim coat dry, the ceiling was textured to match the rest of the room and then was able to be primed and painted.
During the course of this project it was fortunate for the homeowner that the plaster didn’t require replacement as this would have greatly increased the cost of the project.