DIY lath and plaster

DIY lath and plaster 1930s house. 

That’s right!

I did it myself … well Jon and I did and it was actually okay!

(skip to the bottom if you don’t want to read the ramble) 

So here’s the situation…

Once we’d stripped all the wallpaper and removed an electric storage heater in the upstairs bay window, it was evident from the crumbling plaster that it was in need of TLC! Underneath the plaster below the bay window was this thing called a lath (they used to use laths in the 1930’s before plasterboard was invented); it is a thin cross hatch of wooden strips with plaster over the top. 

A very helpful gas man pointed out one day that we would need to insulate below the window as it would let in an awful draft and, as we intended to put a radiator there it would frankly, be a waste of money. 

So what did we do next?  We jumped straight on to YouTube, obvs! “DIY lath and plaster “.was typed. 

The first step was to remove all the lath and we found it was quite roomy behind it which was helpful because, following the instructions of the helpful gasman, we needed to insulate. We measured the bay window – twice – so we knew exactly how much plaster board we would need, and as everyone knows, after watching DIY videos on YouTube then a trip to Wickes is not far away. Off we went. 

Wow! Plaster board is huge and heavy!  After we had shuffled it out of Wickes to the car park we had to cut it so it would fit into Jon’s car. It was clear for all in the car park at Wickes that we that we had no idea what we were doing  – which became clear when I noticed someone from the corner of my eye watching and slowly shaking their head, haha! 

Hopefully we provided them some entertainment that morning, as it certainly entertained me #DIYwithElls. 

Once back, we lined up the plaster board to see if our measurements had been correct. Of course they weren’t so we had to make some adjustments. Once we were happy, we popped the insulation in the wall. Now, if you’re going to give this ago yourself I’d recommend putting gloves on when handling the insulation, it’s prickly stuff!  The insulation we used looked like a big fluffy blanket(I don’t know the technical term) we tore it into 4 pieces to fit the holes in the wall – watch out for the fibreglass dust when tearing it. 

We then screwed the plasterboard into the battens – make sure you use enough screws to support the plaster board, especially if you’re planning on hanging a radiator on  it afterwards – which we were. 

Now … for the fun bit!  Plastering, which I did myself. What? I hear you say. Yes that is correct, I plastered my own wall! 

Before you all jump to conclusions it’s definitely not a career path I’m planning on pursuing. 

We mixed the bag of plaster and water together to get a thick, smooth but slightly runny mixture (look on the bag of plaster mixing ratios) also you will understand the texture of the plaster once you start to apply it to the area. You have to work with it to get a smooth and even coverage – It does take a bit of getting used to. 

As we were having to fill in some gaps on the wall where the plaster met, we were told to use pva. Pva works as a bonding solution that helps the  plaster to stick to the wall or a painted surface. 

Once dried, we applied a second coat of plaster – I believe that’s something you’re meant to do. Once the second coat has dried we will gently sand it down to remove any imperfections and to make the wall smooth. Haha, no my plastering isn’t perfect. 

So a quick summary – 

We had lath on our walls which is a lattice of thin narrow strips of straight-grained wood used to help hold the plaster. 

We removed the plaster and the lath, insulated, screwed in plaster board on top, pva glued the area, plastered and sanded. 

Here our the step by step pictures. 

Good luck if you’re going to attempt something like this yourself and I hope it helps but if it does go wrong after trying to do what we did just remember my day job is beauty therapy not building, carpentry or plastering – which is probably just as well.

Love Ells xxxxx


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