Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plaster downstairs in the carriage house

So I've been intimating for some time that the plaster on the walls downstairs in the carriage house has some water damage. Here's a little indication of how much damage I mean: this is on the northeast corner next to where I replaced the termite-eaten door. [from last year]It's easy getting the rotten plaster off - but you'd better be wearing a mask, because the dust it releases is nasty in many different ways. I've found that it makes me cough for a day, but then makes me truly ill for about three, by which I mean feeling feverish and having troubles with depression. Clearly there's things in it that Just Aren't Good For You.

Anyway, after knocking all that off about two weeks ago, last week I knocked off the rotten plaster in the southeast corner, the so-called "closet" (because it naturally should be a closet). Problem there is that on the east side of the south wall, that was all the plaster. I suspect this is because of the gutter downspout they routed across the face of the wall to the alley [original post from 2009]- I think that leaked and dissolved first the mortar on the outside, then (as night follows day) the plaster on the entire inside of the wall. Probably took it ten years. Note, by the way, the steel rail still hanging there; I'd bent the last bolt holding it on last year and gave up in disgust; this year, not tired by having my arms above my head for the previous five bolts, this one came out pretty easily.

This is probably most of the plaster I'll have to remove. There's a little at the bottom of the wall behind the washer and dryer, but that's it. The north wall was more protected, it appears.

So tonight I got started on replacing the plaster. Here's the amount of plaster added after two episodes of Star Trek Voyager (thanks, Paramount and Netflix!). You can't see it well here, but the base coat is about a quarter-inch thick in most places; there are places where the bricks project a little more where the base coat is only an eighth of an inch or so.

The amount I got done looks kind of pathetic, but I'm getting quicker as I go, and it was tricky maneuvering the plaster trowel in the corner, so I think the rest of the wall will go faster than this makes it look.

But worst case, Voyager has a lot of episodes.

Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with how this is coming out. The resulting base coat is pretty bumpy because I'm really not very skillful applying it yet. I'm going to try a top coat and see if I can't do a little better with that, but I'm not going to be all broken up if it's not perfect. The rest of the plaster down here is pretty sad, having been modified and patched a lot over the last century. This base coat's already about as good as the rest of it. So this is great practice!


  1. Congratulations on your improving plaster work. You're right, it will get better (says I, never having plastered anything larger than four feet square.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. Well, to be honest it can't get a whole lot worse. It comes out really lumpy. If I make the plaster goopier, I can't keep it on the trowel; it just falls off onto the floor. If I make it less goopy, it dries too fast to smooth it. But base coat isn't intended to be smoothed anyway (I tell myself), so I'm going to try the topcoat after the base coat is all on, and we'll just see.