So, how do I fix this water damaged wall?
As you can see, the damage is rather extensive, about 3' across and a 1.5' high.
I think that that's plaster underneath the paint, but I'm unsure what's underneath plaster. It does not appear to be concrete, as it breaks up rather easily into sandy bits.
Can I just break off the loose plaster and apply fresh plaster directly? Is there a bonding material I should use before I use plaster?
Please keep in mind I'm completely new to home repair; heck, I've never owned a house.
You did get the roof leak fixed first, right?
If I was given this job I'd never just fix it, I'd remove all the trim and take all of that stuff down including the ceiling. Just look at the condition of the ceiling, it's all cracked and looks like there was old oil based paint on it and someone tryed to use latex over it and it all alligatored.
I'd also be looking for mold, mildew, roted wood. That's not a one time small leak causing that kind of damage.
With the plaster and lath down you could add blocking at the tops and bottoms of the walls to stop air flow, add outlets, foam any holes were wiring was run and insulate to todays.
Replace the plaster with sheetrock, May have to use lattice strip to bring the rock out so it will be even with the window jams.
Once done you would have a nice flat smooth trouble free wall to work with from then on.
I have no clue what that walls made of, plaster is gray or white from the lime in it.
You might be able to patch it up, I'm not sure how. I would start by removing the damaged stuff and see what you have for damage to framing. I think Joe has the right idea and you would have a room you will be proud of.
I'm with Joe and Neal - that's well beyond "fixing".
You need to tear out the old crumbling stuff at least as far back until you find solid undamaged plaster (or whatever material it is) if a full-scale demo is beyond the budget.
Of course as Joe said, the first step is making sure the source of the leak is properly repaired first.
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