Plaster walls, especially those in older homes, usually have cracks due to the house "settling" in its foundation, or holes from where furniture or doors have struck the plaster and damaged it. Although plaster or joint compound takes practice, you can actually do it yourself, you only need to know how to repair plaster walls. If you have no experience with plaster or its near relative, joint compound, don't learn in your living room. Experiment first in a closet, the attic, or a workroom area where you can glean valuable dos and don'ts from the inevitable imperfections. Another good approach is to try patching first. Repairing plaster walls is a fairly straightforward process. While it should be done right before a paint job (as the location of the repair will be visible), you may choose to repair the damage and match the patch as best as you can to the existing wall surface.
So, how to repair plaster walls? There are 3 steps, preparation, reinforce the patch, and putting on the plaster. In preparation stage, remove all the old, loose plaster. When working directly on a masonry surface, use a club hammer and cold chisel; rake out the joints to a depth of a quarter inch so that the plaster can form "keys" in the joints, adding strength to the new surface. Replace damp or molding wallboard that sags. If necessary, add wooden nailing surfaces at the edge of the wallboard patch to be certain it remains flat and stable. Next, at the joint between the existing wall and the new patch, apply self- adhesive fiberglass mesh tape. This will help bond the old and new together. The last is putting on the plaster. If you are patching a larger void, a two-coat approach is probably best. Fill the edges of the hole with plaster, covering the tape or screening. Use a small filler knife, and bring the plaster just shy of the surrounding finish plaster. Let the newly applied patch set overnight.
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