Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Doh! Doh!

Ran in to a little problem with the ceiling. As you may or may not recall, this kitchen was split in to different rooms and areas. There was a kitchen, a bathroom, a closet, a Murphy Bed alcove (for lack of a better term), and a small area was opened to the back porch. The “bathroom” and “closet” ceilings will not hold on to the skim-coat plaster. I thought I had solved this issue but apparently I had not. Lakewood 2-Flat mentioned a product called “plaster weld”, but when I asked for it down at the local hardware store I was met with blank stares from Jethro & Betty Lou behind the counter. Someone else mentioned shellac on the bare plaster, and if one more person mentions joint compound I’m going to explode. If plaster won’t stick to plaster then why on earth does someone think that joint compound is going to magically adhere to the plaster?

What happened was this: As I rolled the primer on to the plaster the skim-coat basically peels off with the roller leaving behind a stream of very thin plaster flakes. Not all of it comes off, but enough that it is unacceptable. I had a few small areas on the walls in those two “rooms” where this happened as well, but nothing like the ceiling. The areas on the walls are not really an issue. One spot will be behind the cabinets on either side of the sink and the other will be behind a 9 foot tall hutch. I scraped off the chips and re-primed. These small portions of the ceiling have to be re-done.

I’ve decided I’m not going to re-plaster. I’m just too far along in the process to start that again. Besides, for the “closet” area this will be the third time. There is no guarantee a forth time will be the charm. It seems this is a prep issue. Working on the ceiling is awkward and I guess I wasn’t as thorough when I scraped, sanded, and cleaned. I also noticed that it holds on to the plaster in areas where the plaster is thicker. Along the edges where the ceiling meets the walls the skim-coat plaster is thicker (due to my poor skills) and in that area it is fine. The rest of it has to go, though. I scrapped it all off. This accounts for about 20% of the room.

What I’m going to be left with is different textures on different areas of the ceiling and numerous little plaster flakes in some areas. The skim-coat plaster is smooth while the original lime and sand plaster has a coarse texture to it. Actually “coarse” is not the right word. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but suffice it to say it is different. What I’ve decided to do now, is just to prime and paint the whole room as I had planned. Down the road I can put up a tin ceiling to cover it up. A tin ceiling was part of the plan originally. I got a quote of $972.00 for the materials delivered to my door, but decided it was not in the budget. I have other things I need to do while the weather is good, so this will be a nice rainy weekend project this winter.

Now the problem is, what do I tell people about the ceiling. I’m having that group of people over in late August. This is a group of old-house owners and they are all going to be very curious about the progress. They are all pleasant and nice people, but some seem to have forgotten that there Mother once told them, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothing at all”. I will be getting the question, “What is the deal with the ceiling?”. I’m working on a few responses.

1) “Don’t you just love it. I saw them do this on HGTV and I just had to have it. It is called {French term for Chipped Plaster}. It is all the rage over in Europe right now.”

2) “I wanted to preserver the history of the house. I think it is important for the historical context to keep a “living record” of the changes and modifications the house has gone through. The ceiling will be my living record" (a tear in my eye and a deep, introspective sigh)

3) I look them in to the eye with a wild expression on my face and yell, “Oh, so are you going to point out all my mistakes, now”. I then grab them by the arm and pull them from room to room demanding that they point out any of my mistakes in these room. “What about that electrical outlet? Is THAT too crooked for you Your Majesty? My father always pointed out my mistakes. Are you my father now!?!” I trail off in gentle sobbing and then collapse on the floor and begin to sob uncontrollably, occasionally looking up and demanding that everybody leave my house AT ONCE!!!

I’m kind of leaning towards number 3. What do you guys think?


Beth said...

I love the first option. See if you can start a trend!

Jocelyn said...

I'm a number 3 myself. I'm all for confronting things directly. Tin ceiling sounds like a plan.

You could always try complete denial, "What do you mean? I don't see anything? Have you had Lasik surgery recently or something?" (Look very concerned while you are saying this)

I am glad to see you are keeping a sense of humour about this too. I would be the same as you and not want to do ir over- I hare redoing things but sometimes it's unavoidable.

You know, I should have said that Plaster Weld would be available through a drywall supply house- hardware stores don't carry it.

derek said...

I heard wetting the existing plaster works too. I haven't done any real plaster work, I've just used the quick set joint compound. Once it's painted, I can't see the differnce. I haven't done a whole ceiling though, I can't imagine.

Monica said...


Gary said...

OK, now you have the response here are some explanations and a fix. The "bathroom" plaster got wet at some time or over time from humidity. Joint compound will stick to it because joint compound sticks to anything. If you want to cover the chips, use a paint roller and roll top coat on the ceiling like you would paint. This will give it a slight texture though but will mask the chips quite well . If you are painting the ceiling white you can mix the paint with the joint compound before you do it and save yourself the step of painting the ceiling. If you choose this option you may want to use regular joint compound since the paint will thin it out a bit. We did this to some of the ceilings on our second floor where we didn't mind a slight texture. Works just fine. A contractor told me about this trick, I don't make stuff up, I'm really not that creative!

Greg said...

Ok, 3 it is, but I do like the "complete denial" plan as well.

Now, this is me Exploding!

Gary, I do appreciate your input but as far as joint compound goes there is a huge hole in the theory. The first room I plastered 2 years ago was the original bathroom to the house. It had been a bathroom much, much longer than the bathroom that was added to the kitchen. I had no problems when I did the original bathroom. Also, this "bathroom" in the kitchen has been out of commission for at least 4 years. Moister was not an issue. Also, if it was moisture, that does not explain the "closet".

I don't know if you've ever worked with plaster before, but it is very sticky. As sticky, if not more sticky than joint compound, and it did stick initially it just won't hold. What is it with this knee-jerk reaction to joint compound that it is be-all and end-all to wall repair. You don’t know how many people, when I tell them I’m putting finish plaster on my PLASTER walls, have said to me, “Why don’t you use joint compound?”

Look, you can put the strongest glue in the world on a dirty surface and it won't hold. It is a fact of life. Read any glue bottle: Surface must be clean. Joint compound is not the answer! A well preped surface is, and that is what I didn’t do.

There, I feel better now. I apologize for this out-burst.

Gary said...

Well, if you won't go for a simple fix then explore this option. The ceilings may have been originally painted with calcimine paint. You are on your own if that was the case!
I don't give advice because I think I have all the answers. I give advice to save people time and effort because I have done and dealt with so much of these problems, including this one. I told you how I dealt with it. Advice is advice, no one ever listens to me anyway. I can tell you all about calcimine paint too but you wouldn't listen, I'm sure.

Greg said...


I wasn't trying to be rude to you. I am generally just having fun with this blog. Normally, I don't take these things too seriously. I said in the post, if one more person suggests joint compound I will explode. You told me to use joint compound. I exploded.

Your explanation just doesn't make sense to me. Why can I skim-coat plaster a 110 y.o bathroom and have no problems? Why do I not have any problems with the walls. It is only the ceiling. If what you say is true than I should be having a lot more problems, but I don't. Logically, it is not the plaster that is the problem.

PS It is not calcimine paint. I have that in another room. Someone suggested that I paint it with shellac first, and then skim-coat.

Gary said...

PS It is not calcimine paint. I have that in another room. Someone suggested that I paint it with shellac first, and then skim-coat.

If it isn't painted over, you can wash this off with water. That was the point of it, only one coat at a time.

Anyway, there could have been wallpaper on the ceiling at one time and something in the glue is causing your problems. Chisleing grooves into the plaster to provide a "key" may be a solution. Or wallpaper!

If anyone asks at your party, I would look at them and say "Milk Paint!" You will know more than they will and they don't have a clue and those that do will probably say "Ohhhh, bummer."

Did you get the link I sent you for the high wheel bicycle?

Greg said...

Yes, I got the email, thanks. I put my name on the list for one.

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