Repairing Plaster Walls

Cracks in plaster may be a signal that it's time to look into repairing plaster walls. Professional plasterers can be prohibitively expensive, but it is really up to you and the degree to which the plaster is damaged that determines whether or not this job can be done yourself or if you should turn it over to a professional.

Materials/Tools Required:

  • Dry joint compound mix plaster
  • Fiberglass mesh tape
  • Drywall knife

Many homeowners conclude that small cracks - even if there are more than a few - are a doable job they can perform themselves, especially if they've gone to the trouble of contacting one or two professional plasterers for eyebrow-raising estimates.

Some cracks come and go, depending on the inside humidity. If the weather's dry for any length of time, cracks appear at certain stress points only to disappear once it rains and the resultant humidity closes them back up again. But other cracks stay whether or not it's dry or rainy, and these are the ones you should concentrate on repairing.

Professionals advise against using a commercial plaster mix, particularly if you have more than a few cracks, because of its expense. The pros typically advocate a dry joint compound mix that you combine with water to the correct consistency.

The ready-mixed type of compound offered ready to spread comes conveniently in tubs, but this joint compound may prove to be too difficult in adhering to walls. It also does not dry as hard as plaster from a dry joint compound mix and therefore scratches more easily.

Apply a one-eighth-inch strip of the mixed joint compound to the crack, then overlay it with fiberglass mesh tape, pressing the tape into the joint compound. Using a drywall knife, scrape off about half of the compound from the tape and let it set. Apply two more coats of compound over this, smoothing the final layer with a rubber float. Allow to dry thoroughly and the wall is now ready to paint.

That's all there is to it! But one word of caution: If the cracks in plaster walls are major, it may indicate signs of foundation problems. You also may find that you have too many cracks and your schedule is simply too busy to attempt repairing them yourself. At this time, it may be preferable to contact a contractor. In any case, cracks in plaster can be repaired with a little joint compound plaster mix, time, and good, old-fashioned work!

See Also:

Plaster Repair Tips