Skimcoat vs New Drywall vs 1/4" Drywall over existing walls

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MattinCA

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Looking at a major/total remodel of our 1200-SF mid-50s L.A. area home. Way past a weekend DIY project; we will have to have most of the work done professionally. We have buttonboard interior walls and stucco exterior. Walls are beat up, patched, etc. enough that I would like the walls to look new when we are done. I THINK my main alternatives are:

1) tear off all the buttonboard and replace with new drywall;
2) leave buttonboard in place and skim coat all the interior surfaces;
3) leave buttonboard in place and put a new layer of 1/4" drywall over it (I don't care about losing 1/2" of interior space per side).

All things being equal (which I know they never are),

1) What would be the main advantages and disadvantages of these 3 alternatives?
2) what would be the probable difference in cost of the three methods?

I know a main advantage of method #1 is that if we want to do all new electric and insulate the walls, it would be a lot easier with the studs open and give us more insulation options beyond blow-in.

I know buttonbard is not common in some areas. Also known as Rock Lath. Wikipedia says "a type of gypsum wall board with holes spaced regularly across it, usually in sheets sized 2 feet (24 in) by 4 feet (48 in)...The holes serve the same purpose as the spaces between the wood lath strips, allowing plaster to ooze through the board when the plaster is applied, making the keys to hold the plaster to the wall board." There is a pic in this thread (right hand walls): closed cell foam insulation?

Thanks.
 

Bob Reynolds

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You are going to get a bunch of different opinions on this. So hang on buckle up.

You state you are doing a major/ total remodel. How's the budget?

I'm a big believer in getting homes as energy efficient as economically possible. Without seeing any pictures, my first thought is to remove the interior Rock Lath and get the walls and ceiling down to the studs. It's a day or two for demo and then you have a clean slate to work. When you are all done, replace it with drywall. I would not recommend that you just cover the old Rock Latch with 1/4 drywall. You are going to pay as much (or more) as just doing it right in the first place.

Get the updated wiring into the walls and ceiling if needed. Do you need ceiling fans? 50's homes didn't come with them, but I've seen a lot of hack jobs where people have added them. All of that can be fixed now if necessary. Replace all of the outlets and switches with new ones. We use a lot more electricity today than in the 50's because we have a lot more electrical things. Simply getting the electrical outlets and switches in the right place is a big step. For example, most TV's now hang on the wall in an area that does not have outlets for the electricity or cable in the right place.

You may want to change out the HVAC system. Again time, budget, adequacy and condition of the present HVAC system will dictate how far you want to go.

When you are done with the wiring and plumbing, then put the proper insulation in and get the house buttoned up so you can save money on energy bills.

Are you changing the kitchen? A 1950's kitchen is not going to have all of the electrical (and plumbing) that a 2000's kitchen has.

Same thing with the bathrooms.....

Are you moving out of the house while all of this is going on?

In the end it's going to come down to personal choices and money.
 

Snoonyb

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And while you're at it, when was the latest standard fum-A-pest, and what is the glazing, wood, alum, vinyl inserts.
 

joecaption

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I'm with Bob on this one!
The home I live in was also built in the 50's, same plaster board, undersized power, not enough outlets, old windows and doors, it was heated with a antique heater and window A/C's.
There was 0 insulation in the attic.
I chose to gut it and start over.
I'm lucky and could do most of the work myself.
My power bill went from $250.00 a month to $35.00 in the summer to $60.00 in the winter.
My resale value also doubled.
 

MattinCA

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I am taking this in small bites so right now I'm just looking at the wall issue. It makes sense that covering existing with 1/4" drywall is probably the worst option because you have a lot of the costs of new drywall without the benefits.

Taking it all down to the studs is the best option; just not sure of the expense. I figure it would actually accrue some savings if we insulate and put in all new electrical because those would both be easier/faster (equaling cheaper, plus better) with the studs open than working with the existing walls still up. I'm just not sure of the actual numbers.

Like if it costs $4000 more to gut to the studs and put up new drywall compared to a new skimcoat, but the electrician can charge $1000 less in labor because and the insulator can charge $500 less because the studs are open, then it really only costs $2500 net more. Like I say, the theory makes sense, I just don't know the actual numbers. Maybe I need to jump to the Electrical and Green Energy forums for those answers.
 

Sparky617

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When my parents retired they moved into a 1900 era brick house, three of the walls were solid masonry construction with a double layer of bricks covered with furring strips, wood lath, and horsehair plaster. We proceeded to gut it one section at a time starting with the kitchen and dining room. Actually flipping the two rooms. On that part we hired it out and went as far as to tear out the floor joists and started over. It took us about 4 years to do the whole thing. I'm surprised my parent's marriage of 30 years at the time survived. That house cured me of "This Old House Fever". Living through a major renovation is a major PITA.

We framed out the walls after stripping them back to the brick, updated the wiring, ductwork and added insulation. We essentially built a new house inside the brick shell.
 

billshack

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I requires a real pro plasterer to do 1/4 inch skim coat.
 

68bucks

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If you can do the demo and hang the drywall yourself you could save a nice chunk and those are low skill jobs, just takes time and effort.
 

billshack

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I have always found that plastering is a real art. When i was an inspector I could always see where the dry wall screws were after plastering , except for the real artists .
 

MattinCA

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I have never done drywall so I would never dream of doing a skimcoat myself, it is definitely a learned skill. An excellent illustration of the difference between "Simple" and "Easy." I could do the demo and maybe put up the new drywall but would probably have a pro tape it for the same reason.
 

Spicoli43

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The only absolute I see is complete demo and complete replacement of electrical. I can't count how many times I have seen fire reports that said the electrical was outdated.
 

ekrig

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Taping and putting the mud is not nearly as hard as it appears. The video below does an excellent job at walking someone through the entire process.

Sure, it is a bit tricky and takes practice, but everyone has to start somewhere. For me, getting the inside corners right still takes some trial and error, but I call that my tuition! Try it, sand it, and if it doesn't look right, sand some more and try again. Besides, after doing a number of jobs myself and having "pros" do some, I find that almost always I do it better, simply because it is my work, done for me, and therefore I'm fully invested in making it right.
 
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