Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?
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  1. #1
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    Question Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    When I get back from the SC cutout I have another one to do here in town. House is 2 story and built in the early 20's. Evidently these houses didn't have insulation in them. This part of the 2nd story was added on sometime later.

    The outside is wood shingles and the inside is plaster. Anyone know the best way to break through a plaster wall?
    De Colores,
    Ken

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    probably horsehair plaster.

    best bet is to find the studs, and saw right along them (so you can pop out a rectangle of plaster).

    you can do this with a skill saw or sawzall (ride the blade along the stud). if i had my druthers, i'd use one of those oscillating tool systems.

    make sure you don't cut into any gas or electrical lines

    deknow

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    if it were me I would only go in from the outside if was at all possible and safe. I ve lived in and remodled a few plaster wall houses. Most have no insulation some have old newspaper or worst of all, the wall spaces are filled with vermiculite. Very dusty and nasty. also some of the old plasters have asbestos in them.
    Go in from the outside, It will be easier on you and the homeowner will have less problems and expense getting things fixed.
    BEE safe!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    Plaster and lath, and like deknow knows, horsehair as a binder. I'd try to hit dead center on a stud(s), as they will want to "try" to put sheet rock back in the panel you take out, but alas, the sheet rock will be thinner than the plaster - they will have to feather on a plaster coating or use plaster and metal screen. No way to remove shingles on the exterior of the house?

    The house most likely will have old knob and tube wiring, and if they were smart, they would have updated it long ago. Don't stand in any puddles when you're cutting.

    MM

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    If the house is that old you will more than likely find narrow thin wood strips nailed from stud to stud. There will be small cracks between these strips. The plaster is then applied over these strips. Newer houses has plaster board simular to sheet rock that plastrer was applied over.

    Do you have to repair the hole? That will determine how much care you will need to take min making the hole.

    You can drill a hole with a mosonary bit to get your saw blade started. Plaster board will cut our easier than wooden strips.

    Like the earlier person said cut along the stud, then if you have to repair the hole, all you have to do is nail a cleat onto the side of the studs to reattach to cutout. Screws work well for repairs, less jaring the remaining plaster.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    Quote Originally Posted by MapMan View Post
    The house most likely will have old knob and tube wiring, and if they were smart, they would have updated it long ago. Don't stand in any puddles when you're cutting.
    our place was built in 1905 (3 family house). when i was putting in ceiling fans, i had the plumber remove some gas pipes that were in my way...from gas lighting. the pipes were disconnected, but i had no way of knowing that.

    we had the knob and tube replaced (the hardware is still in place). under the front hall floor there were old newspapers. a story of a white mule being pulled out from a hole ended up being about white mule moonshine during probation.

    there were various (free) sources of fill used in the yard. hopefully one was from some stone cutter...there are pieces of tombstones (ramona's never seen "poltergeist")

    deknow

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    You may be able to remove the wood shingles from the exterior by getting yourself a small punch and driving the nails IN (if the nail heads are small-they often are), thus the shingles simply fall loose and can be re-used. There might be old wooden siding underneath (or who knows what), but I think I would pretty much rather deal with just about anything on the exterior rather than working from in the house. If it's possible, you could put up a scaffold (or build one) and work from the outside. Good luck.

    Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

    www.thewarrestore.com

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    My wife and I finished up a cut out in a house built in 1947 with plaster walls. The bees were in the ceiling, overhand, and the walls. I used an oscillating tool to start my cut then a sawzall for speed. Cut straight lines and save the wall for whoever has to fix the plaster. Use a probe to help you find the edge of the stud (I used a 1" wide piece of sheet metal to help me find the stud).
    When we were done we found not 1 but 4 swarms and were told that the bees were in the house for at least 7 years. Good luck, you will need it.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    Thanks for all of the advice. I have plenty of time to think about it. The father-in-law of the family living in the home now purchased the house 42 years ago and lived in it until sometime in the past when it became his daughter's and son-in-law.

    The father said they have never done anything to the house......at least on the 2nd floor. The addition was on the house long before it purchased it 42 years ago. It is their understanding that at one time this addition was built as an apartment with an outside entrance via stairs.

    We are talking about an old southern home with 10' ceilings and the house is probably 3' off the ground.

    I will check with them and see if they every used gas up there. The area where the bees are located is at the corner of the house and the wall on the inside is a bathroom. They believe it was a kitchen at one time, so gas lines are a possibility.

    They are willing to get scaffeling for me to do what work I can from the outside and don't seemed to be too concerned about damage and repairs. I will do as much as possible to limit all damage as that is how I do business.

    The asbestos thing worries me some. And the plaster that was mentioned with wooden sticks is what I know as plaster walls. It should be too hard to remove the wood shingles. You have to start at the top and that's where the hive is located anyway. I might go out through one of the windows on the 2nd floor onto the 1st floor roof and see if I can remove a shingle there as a test.

    Oh well, everyone of them is different and has it's own challenges. Guess that's why I really like doing cutouts.

    I should have plenty of experience doing a cutout from the outside of a house after next week in SC. The bees are inside the outside wall of this house too! No insulation. Outside of the house is wood boards lapped over. Wood has shrank over the years and is probably "fatlighter".
    De Colores,
    Ken

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    I wouldn't start buy cutting anything. Start with a hammer claw and break/peel the plaster off the wood lath, if in fact that is what is there. Plaster can also be over 3/4 lap boards, wire lath or gypsum board. This way you can locate the hive by looking through the lath gaps. At that point, you can trim the plaster back to the closest stud with various tools and cut the lath on the stud centers.
    Regards, Barry

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    if there is honey in there (and you want to save it for eating), you will want to keep the plaster dust at a minium...i think that means trying to take off big pieces, not in smaller chunks.

    deknow (who has a about 70lbs of comb with enough plaster dust on it to make it unappetizing).

    deknow

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    first thang you need to learn is materials an probability of asbestes in them old houses. 1940s asbestos was used in near bout everythang. id call
    epa an get a education. one good thang is the asbestos dump site for
    round here is in south carolina. gota double bag everthangs. gotta keep
    someone sprayin water on it to keep dust down etc etc...
    id be writein out a contract on this one.

    sometimes its best to walk away . cant get em all

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    be lote is onto something about educating yourself about asbestos. But I wouldn't call epa or any other government authority/agency. Next thing you know, you'll have inspectors out there and then you're in a real mess. Go in from the outside...unless, of course, the shingles were made of asbestos, which was done in the '40's and '50's. good luck!
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    I have decided to go in from the outside. I am pretty sure the shingles are wood. I had a house that had asbesto shingles.....they are long and thin. These are short and thick.

    They will just have to provide me with the scaffoling to do the job. I will explain my fears of the plaster wall. If they ever decide to renovate at least they will know what they may be up against.
    De Colores,
    Ken

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    you got me wrong if you was thinkin i wanted to get usc to call epa on this job. i wanted him to call on -what ifs- an learn the flow chart cause when he opens em there his baby from then on. he the - expert -. the problem is anybody can call epa an they got to investagate.

    do yourself a faver an use a contract wrote by a lawyer.
    fore warned is fore armed

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    The whole asbestos thing in plaster is all hyped up you know. Do what you gotta do, but a little plaster dust from opening up a wall section is a non issue, unless of course you live in California, where every label warns of causing cancer there. If in fact there is asbestos in the plaster, your honeybees will have attached there comb to all the plaster that has oozed between the lath and into the wall cavity. Good luck getting it all cleaned out without breaking off the plaster.

    You better have a hazmat suit handy!
    Regards, Barry

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Anyone familiar with old plaster walls?

    De Colores,
    Ken

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