How to Fix Plaster Ceiling


It is possible to fix cracking ceilings by using modern materials and traditional techniques. Along with normal wear and tear, plaster ceilings are at the mercy of gravity. They need water leaks and structural movements to be pulled away from the framing. However, steps can be taken to repair and rescue plaster ceilings from further damage. It is possible to regain the ceiling’s integrity with these methods. Fixing a plaster ceiling may require you to visit online stores like Amazon, Houzz, Alibaba, Build, etc. The methods are as follows:

Methods to Fix House Ceiling

  1. Sizing up the Ceiling

First of all, correct the problem that made the ceiling lose in the first place i.e. leaky roof, structural alterations, etc. After that, assess how far the ceiling has pulled away. Push on the surface gently and check the amount of play between plaster and lath. The plaster will not sit in its place if broken keys and debris are in the way.

No need to force it back into its place to avoid breaking more plaster. Gently encourage plaster with your flat hand instead. You may succeed in placing it solid and flat against the lath if the separation is slight. However, too much debris if the separation is around half to an inch from the lath. 

  1. Remove Any Debris

A reattachment is an option only if you have to vacuum out all the debris from above. It is very common to see too much debris in the worst part of the ceiling. Remove it, attach the edges again, and use new plaster to fill in the lost parts. Crumbly and soft plaster should be removed as it will not hold up during drilling and pushing. It is recommended to carefully mark out your repair plan first. Then remove any debris with a sharp knife. Rough Ryder Trapper at Amazon is one of our recommended options. 

Rough Ryder Trapper

  1. Find The Wood Laths

While injecting the adhesive, theholes should be beneath the wood lath. It will allow the adhesive to bond with something solid. You can easily see the lath positions if you have dug out a crack to repair or removed any plaster. Once you have a solid fix in one lath, the rest of the lathing is 1-1/2″ to 2″ wide and spaced approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart. Mark the injection site 1-1/2″ to 2″ back from the edges if you have an infill area that needs reattachment at its edges.

  1. Drill Injection Holes

Bore the injection holes using a 1/4″ carbide drill bit. Boring through the injection surface is very important.For example, you must bore completely through the plaster if you are reattaching from the plaster side. However, you still need to stop before going into the wood lath. Offex Multipurpose Home Improvement Drill on Houzz is our recommended option to drill injection holes. 

The 1/4″ injection hole is a good size for a good seal with an adhesive tube. On the other hand, you need to bore through the lath and stop before the plaster if you are reattaching from above. It’s possible to develop a feel for these different layers by paying attention to the changing resistance of the materials on the drill bit.

  1. Vacuum Out The Debris

You need to vacuum out the debris and drilling dust after you have bored your injection holes. Avoid sucking the old plaster with the vacuum as it is soft. Never push the plaster back up into place. You can vacuum more debris if you have access from above. Remove visibly broken or loose keys. Now, wet the injection holes by either squirting up into the drilled holes from the plaster surface or spraying down the lath with a squirt bottle. Wetting encourages the adhesive to travel farther when it is compressed. Additionally, it will slow the drying time slightly for a stronger bond. You can use Intex Blue Ring Debris Bags available on Amazon. 

Intex Blue Ring Debris Bags 3 New 10788 Deluxe Pool Maintenance Kit Vacuum Part

  1. Inject Adhesive Now!

This is the right time to inject adhesives. It is recommended to use a water-based, latex product that is a vinyl floor adhesive. However, any good-quality latex adhesive can work. For example, floor adhesives or liquid nails. These are available in the market and you can buy them quite easily from the hardware stores. Inject the adhesive until the plaster moves ever slightly. You can push the plaster off the ceiling if you inject too much adhesive. Follow along with a damp sponge to wipe away the excess adhesive while you inject it. It will leave the holes when you remove the nozzle.

  1. Use Forms To Secure The Plaster

After injecting the adhesive into the repair area, push the plaster back into its place against the lath. Now secure it with forms. It will result in spreading the adhesive to bond to a greater area of the surface. Now secure, these are in place with screws and wooden shores running to the floor. After that, do nothing and allow the adhesive to set up for 24 hours.

  1. Screws vs Shores

Screws keep the work area clear and save precious time in fitting wooden shores. However, they can damage the plaster too. That is why shores are a much better option for decorative plaster. Shores can be used for plaster-side as well as lath-side reattachment. Akron Products Adjustable Shore Jack at Amazon is an option for everyone. 

Akron Products Adjustable Shore Jack – 4×4

  1. Remove Forms For The Next Day

Yes, you can remove the forms the next day. Use a knife to scrape some of the plastic sticks into an adhesive, injected from the plaster side. You can remove the forms in spite of the soft adhesive around the holes. Scrape off the dried adhesive residue with a knife on the plaster side and gently scallop out the excess adhesive showing from the hole. FOSHIO 2PCS Plastic Razor Scrapers are available on Amazon to scrap the adhesive. 

FOSHIO 2PCS Plastic Razor Scrapers Knife with Contoured Grip + 100 PCS 1.5 inch Refillable Double Edge Plastic Razor Blades Ideal for Auto Window Tint Vinyl Tool Application

  1. Fill in the Injection & Screw Holes

The adhesive will further retreat into the hole as it dries fully over another day or so and leaves a clear space to fill. Use any vinyl paste filler or plaster compound for this step. Usually, it would take 2-3 applications to fill the holes flushed with the ceiling. It also depends upon the product. Other than that, the ceiling is now reattached and ready for a fresh coat of paint. Isn’t it great?

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