Restoration Plastering
The New York Public Library Archives, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations What is the difference between plaster and spackle/joint compound?
Plaster provides a solid, seamless surface. It may be applied over wire lath, as found in many older homes, as well as over sheetrock. Spackle, or joint compound, is used to cover the taped seams of sheetrocked walls.

 

The advantages of plaster include:

  • Design flexibility which allows for curves, arches, etc.
  • Durability - Hard, strong surface provides excellent abrasion resistance resulting in minimum maintenance, even in high-traffic areas. Plaster will not disintegrate if exposed to a small leak, as is the case with spackle/joint compound.
  • Plaster eliminates irregularities such as board joints and protruding nails, etc.

 

What preparations need to be made before the plaster work is started?
We protect all work areas to prevent the infiltration of dust throughout the house. With safety our top priority, we ask that children and pets be restricted from the work area and that there is a clear pathway to the areas being repaired. In this connection please clear all work areas of furniture, draperies and personal belongings.

It is essential that any leaks which were the cause of water damage be repaired in advance of the start of work. We will identify any additional preparations on a case-by-case basis and will advise you of them at the time of our quote. Occasionally our preparation will expose concealed damage such as rotted wood resulting from prior leaks which will need to be addressed prior to the start of the job. Our work requires access to electricity and water.

 

Is there a lot of dust from plaster?
There is dust created by our preparation work, which includes removing loose paint, opening up cracks, and removing loose, dried-out plaster. These processes are essential to ensure that all surfaces are sound before the plaster is applied. There is no dust involved in the application of the wet plaster.

 

What measures are taken to prevent future cracking?
As part of our standard quality pre-plastering procedure we apply nylon mesh to all walls and ceilings in the entire area being repaired/restored. This procedure leaves all areas maintenance free for many years. This is not a standard procedure employed by all plastering contractors.

 

Can ceilings/walls be repaired from water damage?
Yes, they can be repaired. Obviously, the leak must be repaired before the plasterer arrives and the damaged area must be left to dry thoroughly for at least two weeks prior to the commencement of repairs/restoration.

 

What are ideal working temperatures for plastering?
50-80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the warmer months all working areas should be kept at around 70 degrees. As the plaster starts to set, it gives off heat, increasing room temperature by another 10 degrees. In the colder months the temperature should not drop below 50 degrees. Keeping the room within this temperature range will allow the plaster to dry properly and will prevent it from cracking due to excessive cold.

 

How soon can I paint after the plastering is finished?
Many factors determine drying time, such as the thickness of the plaster which has been applied, temperature, humidity, and ventilation. As an example, with a plaster thickness of approximately 1/8th of an inch in a dry environment with good air circulation, drying time is about 3- 5 days. Thicker coats of plaster, up to an inch thick, obviously require longer periods of drying and could be as long as 3 weeks. We can advise you at the time of job completion.

 

What do I need to know about painting over plaster?
Plaster is a porous material. To seal the surface, apply at least one coat of primer.

We recommend Zinsser's "stain-killing primer-sealers" in older homes that have had water damage or where there is/has been tobacco use.

 

What is the difference between conventional and veneer systems?

Conventional plaster

  • Consists of a thick coat of plaster over wire lath
  • Provides increased fire and wear resistance
  • Takes longer to apply and dry
  • Is more expensive
Veneer plaster
  • Consists of a basecoat and a coat of finish plaster over sheetrock
  • Is faster to complete, but still strong
  • Is less expensive

 

Where can I learn more about plastering?
Consult the following documents published by the National Park Service: