Repairing an Old Ceiling

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

There are two types of ceiling construction, depending on their age. Early ceilings were made by nailing thin strips of wood (laths) to the joists so that there were narrow gaps between them. Plaster, often reinforced with animal hair, was then spread over the laths and forced through the gaps in between. The ridges so formed are called “nibs” and these hold the ceiling together.

The more modern method of constructing a ceiling is to nail sheets of gypsum board to the joists and cover them with a thin skim coat of plaster.

Cracks are the most common form of damage found in a ceiling and if they are only fine they can be filled with a filler compound. However, if they are wide and cover a large area of the ceiling the structure will be dangerously weak and should be replaced.

If a plasterboard ceiling sags it is probably because the fixing nails have loosened. Refix the affected area by renailing with 2in drywall nails spaced 6in apart.

If plaster has fallen away from the laths but they appear to be in good condition, replaster them after cutting back the original plaster to make a regular shape and reach sound plaster. Undercut the edges of the plaster and make sure there is no old plaster left between the laths. Then treat the area with an adhesive.

When plastering always work across the laths, spreading on a thin coat of bonding plaster first and keying it with a scratch comb made by knocking a row of nails into the edge of a short batten. Apply another coat of bonding plaster and key this with a devilling float, pressing it down to allow for two thin finishing coats. Polish these when hard with a wetted steel trowel.

Home Repair Tips – Wall Repairs

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Older walls and sometimes even new ones will need some repair before finishing. The most common wall repairs include:

• Dents

• Small holes

• Large holes

• Nail pops

• Split tape

You can repair dents by sanding around them, trowling joint compound (spackle) into the dent, and finally smoothing out the area. This is essentially plastering. Once it is dry, you can sand, seal, paint, or wallpaper the patch to match the rest of the wall.

Small holes are repaired like dents. A wad of newspaper behind the hole will prevent the joint compound from falling between the walls.

For large holes, you will have to patch a piece of drywall into place. Remove all loose material from around the hole with a utility knife. Then cut a piece of drywall to fill the hole. If the patch doesn’t rest on solid wood, set a screw in the patch to use as a handle. After the joint compound hardens, remove the screw and plaster the whole patch with joint cement. Then sand the patch to match the rest of the wall.

When the house framing expands or shrinks, nails pop and become visible under the paint or wallpaper. If the nails are tight, just drive them back below the surface with a claw hammer. Plaster the dent with joint compound. If the nails are loose, pull them if it won’t damage the wall, or drive them so deep they won’t come out again. Then drive new nails nearby. Cover the nails with joint cement. Use only drywall nails. Regular nails will rust when covered with joint cement.

Split tape is caused by the house settling. The tape will bulge like a bubble or blister or actually crack. Cut and pull off the loose tape. Remove all the loose tape or it will split again. Then sand the area and spread a thin coat of joint compound over it. With a wide putty knife work the tape into this compound. Plaster over the tape with compound. When it is dry, sand it.

Bathroom and kitchen walls are sometimes covered with ceramic tile. When a tile is cracked, it should be replaced. Start by removing the tile and old grout. You may have to break the tile with a hammer and chisel.

Repair large holes by cutting a piece of drywall to fit the hole. Cement the patch and hold it in place with a handle made from a screw. When it has dried, remove the screw and plaster, sand and finish the whole area.

Sometimes it is necessary to back a hole with newspaper when filling a hole with spackle or patching plaster. A piece of wire screen or plasterboard works well also.

Most wall repair is essentially plastering. On drywall, use drywall cement or spackle to fill the hole. Wood walls are repaired with wood putty.

Nail pops that are tight can simply be driven back in with a hammer and a nail set. Loose nails should be pulled or driven in. Drive a new nail nearby.

Although the tile is usually set in a special cement, it is much easier to glue the replacement tile with white epoxy cement. The wall must be dry. Use a putty knife or cover your finger with a piece of plastic or cellophane and work the epoxy around the tile to match the old grout. Hold the tile in place until the epoxy begins to set.

Clean all cement off the tiles before it hardens.

Wallpaper is difficult to repair. To replace a greasy or torn spot, carefully tear a piece of matching wallpaper from the front of the patch so the backing will be torn away from the edges. Remove the old piece. Match the pattern and paste down the new patch. The seams will always be slightly visible, but the ragged edges will make them less obvious.

Sometimes wallpaper bulges loose in a bubble. Cut a small slit in the bubble and force paste behind it, in order to work the bubble down. The cut is less visible if it is made along a straight line in the wallpaper pattern.

Remove all tape that is loose. Spread joint compound over the area and work new tape down with a putty knife. Then plaster over.

An uneven piece of wallpaper is less noticeable than one that is cut straight. Tearing the backing off the edges will make it even less obvious.

Gluing tiles with white epoxy cement is easier than using grout. The cement must be spread by hand to look like grout. Protect your finger with a piece of plastic.

Home Repair Tips – Finishing Walls

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Walls are the first thing anyone entering your home will see. They should be kept clean and in good repair.

There are many ways to finish walls. Probably the most common is painting. Paint preserves and beautifies many objects. It protects metal from rust, wood from mildew and plastics from sun damage. Paint also makes them easier to clean.

There are many types of wall coverings. Paper, plastics, and fabrics are some. Wall coverings can be prepasted and pretrimmed. Some are washable; and some are even treated for easy removal at a later date.

Paneling is easy to care for, and there are many different types to choose from.

Whatever type of wall finish you use, the job should be clean and neat. You should also know some of the chemistry of the materials and surfaces you are working with—what will mix and what may explode.

Painters will always have work. Even if the perfect paint—one that never wears out—is discovered, there will always be someone who doesn’t like the color!

Drywall is soft. It is best held in place with large headed drywall nails, screws or staples.

To prevent nails and seams from showing, nails are dented into the walls. The dents are then filled with drywall cement. Then you cover the seams with drywall tape and plaster over with drywall cement.

Finishing drywall seams. Apply compound over the seams and nail impressions. Work the tape into this compound. Smooth over, allow to dry, and sand.

In many modern houses, interiors are finished with drywall. Drywall normally comes in sheets, 4′ x 8′, 4′ x 10′, or 4′ x 12′. It is usually 5/16, 3/8, 1/2 or 5/8 inch thick. The most common size is 3/8 inch thick 4′ x 8′.

Drywall sheets are nailed to the house joists with large headed nails, screws, or staples. Nails are driven so that a small dent is made in the drywall. This depression is then filled with a type of cement and covered over with tape

There are three basic ways to finish drywall:

• Painting

• Wallpapering

• Paneling

You may apply paint directly to drywall. New drywall usually takes two coats: one to seal it and one to present an even, finished surface.

Wallpaper is becoming popular again. It comes in rolls and is applied directly to the drywall. Before it will stick, the drywall must be prepared with a glue-like coating of sizing. The trick in applying wallpaper is to avoid bubbles and match the edges and the pattern precisely.

Paneling is glued or nailed directly onto the drywall. Panels may be veneer, wallboard, imitation masonry, or some other material.

Moldings and baseboards finish off walls and ceilings. In older homes they are always made of wood. Most new molding and baseboard is made of synthetic materials which are more flexible and less likely to crack when nailed into place.