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TheLadyBrooke 09-01-2012 02:17 PM

Plaster & Lathe or Modern Drywall & Insulation?
My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a home built in 1916. I have been trying to research and decide what is the best option for us to take, but I'm finding a pretty even list of pros and cons on both sides. Should we keep the original plaster and lathe walls, which need repair in many places, or bring them down to the studs and rebuild with new insulation and drywall?

I would -prefer- to have modern walls installed, but I am unsure if it is necessary. I hate how the plaster cracks and how cold it feels. I'm use to modern drywall, I guess.

What are your opinions and thoughts? Experiences? We will be doing all the work ourselves with the help of my father-in-law, who has experience in construction and remodelling.

Eventually down the road we want this house to be completely brought up to modern codes and comfort, but with the original old style and charm.

AndyGump 09-01-2012 09:58 PM

Well I think the proper answer to your question is inelegant "it depends".

How bad is the existing lathe and plaster?

What is your budget?

If you remove the L/P would that impact the trim around the windows and doors and cause you to have to cover-up part of or fill into the trims and sill etc.?

Do you have wood siding that could be removed every other course or third course to install insulation into. I would NOT recommend having an insulation company drill holes on the exterior and fill with insulation.

Do you need to remove interior walls to bring electrical up to snuff? I doubt it.

Where do yo live? Southern Calif. or Manitoba?


TheLadyBrooke 09-02-2012 08:50 AM

Well actually we have to redo all the electrical. It's all still nob and tube. We're in southern Indiana.

joecaption 09-03-2012 10:45 AM

Removing the plaster would allow access to to fire blocking (if you have ballon framing) seal up any holes where plumbing and wires were run, far easyer to run new wires, if the old wooden siding was just nailed to the studs with no sheathing you could add House wrap beteen the studs to cut down on air infiltration, inspect of insect and water damage.

Since now there's most likly lead paint on all your trim by removing it you get rid of the lead and get new trim that is all nice and smooth.

As far as having to deal with the trim around the windows and doors it's as simple as shimming the studs so the sheetrock will come out even with the jambs.
I'd bet your heating and cooling savings would pay back all the cost over time.

You'll be shock what your going to find behind those walls. Bare wires, burn wires, dead critters, being able to see cracks to the outside between every piece of siding, stuff that's fallen all the way down from the attic, ECT.
If you planed on redoing the wiring anyway you start by having the incoming power line up graded, new panel box so there's some place to run the new wires to.

TheLadyBrooke 09-03-2012 01:30 PM

Wow that's very helpful. Thank you! We are leaning more towards taking the walls all down to the studs, now. It'll be a lot more work and money at first, but well worth the benefits in the end. :)

CallMeVilla 09-03-2012 05:20 PM

Removing the L+P will be dusty and messy but you will be glad you did it. Exterior walls can be energy sealed. Interior walls will be open so you can remodel to code for wiring and plumbing. In fact, once the walls are gone, you might want to move some walls, create closets, expand the bathroom . . .

If you are paying for electrician time, believe me, its faster and cheaper to have walls stripped. Also, this is when you can add recessed lights or move HVAC -- even add LED task lighting under your kitchen cabinets.

You will have to adjust door jambs but so what? Get new jambs and use old doors with new casing. The finished look will be great.

I envy the adventure you are about to launch! :)

TheLadyBrooke 09-10-2012 04:32 PM

Ok now I have an additional question. I was told it's illegal to remove plaster walls without a contractor because of lead or asbestos. Is this true?

nealtw 09-10-2012 05:02 PM

Find the people that test for bad stuff and take them a sample. You will deffinitly have lead paint. Any insulation in the attic will likely to be bad stuff too. It is well worth it to get all that junk out once and for good, evan if you have to pay someone to do it.

joecaption 09-11-2012 10:10 AM

Home owners can do anything they want to. If a contractor does it they have to be certified and have a special licence.

CallMeVilla 09-11-2012 03:14 PM

Answer: Get the surfaces and insulation tested. Worth the expense due to the on-going health risks. Once air borne, lead paint dust is very bad. Same with asbestos. There used to be asbestos in drywall years ago too.

Take it slowly and make informed decisions along the way.

Good luck

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