Thinking of ripping out that plaster? Think again.


Lately I’ve been having a change of heart about certain plans for our Tour. When we started the project I was way too gung-ho. My motto was: MUST. EXPOSE. EVERYTHING.

However, after reading up on plaster and experiencing first hand the amplitude of work (and mess) in demolishing it, I’ve been humbled. I was wrong. Plaster isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Preservationists insist that plaster is a better product than modern drywall… (it) keeps firm for many decades and holds sound better than drywall. That’s good for parents who don’t want conversations in the master bedroom overheard by the kids in the next room…Yet preservationists say too many owners of old homes are tearing out their plaster and replacing it with drywall. – Wall Street Journal

Plaster walls sometimes get a bad reputation, but because they’re long-lasting, durable, fire-retardant and sound dampening, they’re well worth preserving. – SFGate

I’ve been so intent about finding out about the origins of our Tour (when it was built, who it was built for) that I often forget that between the early 1600’s and today is 400 years worth of history, occupants and the renovations they took the time and care to do.  The plaster in our Tour probably dates back to the 1930’s. It’s a part of its history and a structural asset that I now realize should be treated with more respect.

Don’t get me wrong, we are still exposing the stone and original features of the main living floor because I seriously love the look of exposed stone wall (see here for examples) and the false ceiling is coming off pretty much everywhere because it really lowers the height of the rooms. But elsewhere, particularly the bedrooms, the plaster stays.

Great links:

  • If These Walls Could Talk, They’d Say Plaster Please from the Wall Street Journal.
  • How to Repair Interior Plaster Over Masonry Walls from SFGate.
  • Plaster an Irreplaceable Treasure from Glen Ellyn Preservation.
  • Repairing Historic Flat Plaster Walls and Ceilings from
  • An article about repairing traditional lime plaster from Traditional Product Reports.
  • Second Guessing Skim Coating forum discussion at Old House Web.
  • Keep Original Plaster or Install Drywall? forum discussion at GardenWeb.
  • What Type of Paint to Use on Very Old Plaster Walls? forum discussion at French Entrée.

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1 Comment

  1. Great article, very will written – plaster interiors are of the highest quality! You might looking at our work as well if you ever need any additional resources for interior plaster preservation!


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