What is Lath and Plaster Ceiling
Lath and plaster ceiling is a traditional method of constructing ceilings that involve attaching laths to the ceiling joists. Laths are thin wood strips nailed horizontally across the studs or joists of the walls. And then to finish it, a plaster mixture is applied to the laths in layers to create a smooth and solid surface.
This method was commonly used in homes and buildings from the 1700s to the early 1900s. Nowadays, this method is being replaced by more modern materials like plasterboard.
The traditional materials used to create lath and plaster walls were lime powder, sand, and fibres, often made from horsehair. To make a wall using lath and plaster, it needs to be coated with at least three layers of plaster to achieve a hard and dense finish.
If you want to know what kind of ceiling your old house has, you can check by looking under the loft insulation or lifting a bedroom floorboard. If the ceiling is made up of many small strips of wood with creamy plaster, then it is an original lath ceiling.
Are There Any Benefits of Using This Method?
Yes, there are several benefits to using the lath and plaster method for ceilings.
1. Better Soundproofing and Insulation
One of the main benefits is that lath and plaster ceilings can provide better soundproofing and insulation compared to modern materials like drywall. This is because the plaster mixture used in lath and plaster ceilings is denser and thicker than drywall, which helps to reduce noise transfer between rooms and can also help to keep a room warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
2. Easier to Curved and Shaped
Lath and plaster ceilings can be shaped and curved more easily than modern materials like drywall. This is because the lath strips used in the construction of lath and plaster ceilings can be bent and shaped to follow the contours of a ceiling or wall. It allows for more creative and unique designs.
3. Durable and Damage Resistant
Lath and plaster ceilings are also more durable and resistant to damage than modern materials like drywall. This is because the plaster mixture used in lath and plaster ceilings is denser and thicker than drywall. It means it’s less likely to dent or crack if something hits it.
Because the plaster is applied in layers to the lath strips, there is more material to absorb impacts and distribute the force, which can help prevent damage to the ceiling. This is why we can still find homes that use laths. They can last for many years without needing to be repaired or replaced.
So, What Are the Drawbacks?
There are some disadvantages to using lath and plaster ceilings. Here are a few:
Lath and plaster ceilings can be more expensive to install than modern materials like drywall. This is because the process of installing lath and plaster requires more time and skill. And the materials themselves can be more expensive.
2. Harder Maintenance
Lath and plaster ceilings require more maintenance than drywall. This is because the plaster mixture used in lath and plaster ceilings can crack or loosen over time. Especially if the ceiling is exposed to vibration or moisture. Repairing these cracks and loose areas can be time-consuming and expensive. Most of the time, it requires the services of a professional plasterer.
3. Weight Risk
They are heavier than drywall, which can be a concern in older buildings or buildings with weak or damaged ceiling joists. The weight of the plaster can cause the ceiling to sag. If the joists are not strong enough to support it, it can collapse.
4. Difficulty of Installation
This old ceiling method is more difficult to install than modern materials like drywall. This is because the process of attaching the lath strips to the ceiling joists and applying the plaster mixture requires a high level of skill and experience. This can make it difficult for DIYers to install lath and plaster ceilings themselves. It requires the services of a professional plasterer.
Is It Necessary to Remove the Lath and Plaster Ceiling?
The short answer is no, it’s not necessary to remove them as long as they’re still intact and not falling apart. In fact, lath and plaster ceilings can add to the historical appeal of an older home and should be preserved whenever possible.
However, it’s important to note that lath and plaster ceilings require more maintenance than modern materials like drywall. Over time, the plaster mixture used in lath and plaster ceilings can crack or loosen, especially if the ceiling is exposed to moisture.
It’s important to regularly inspect lath and plaster ceilings for any signs of damage and repair any cracks or loose areas as soon as they appear. This can help prevent further damage and prolong the life of the ceiling.
When to Decide Whether to Repair or Remove Your Plaster and Lath Ceilings
Sometimes we wonder if we can just plaster a ceiling. I wish it was that simple. Sagging plasterwork does not necessarily indicate a broken plaster surface. Houses settle over time, and ceilings follow suit. You might still be able to keep your ceiling if it is sagging or sloping.
Where the plaster appears to have separated from the lath, stand beneath the sagging area and gently push upward using your palms. The plaster is supposed to have a little give, but if you feel it moving up and down, that means the laths are not attached. You may notice dust and debris falling from the cracks as you do this.
Upon a complete failure, lime mortar or plasterwork will separate from the laths and fall to the ground. As a result, the plasterwork is essentially unsupported beneath the laths. Plasterwork in this state eventually starts to crack and even falls away in pieces or in whole sheets if there is a water leak, or if someone jumps on the floor above.
If you do need to remove a lath and plaster ceiling, it’s important to do so carefully and safely. Lath and plaster ceilings can be heavy, and the plaster sometimes contains hazardous materials like asbestos, so it’s important to follow proper safety procedures and hire a professional if necessary.
What Is the Cost of Lath and Plaster Ceiling Repairs?
Lath and plaster ceiling repair cost does not come at a fixed price. It will ultimately come down to how large the job is and how long it will take a plasterer to finish it.
Cracks that are small can often be repaired, but larger cracks or crumbling plaster may require that the substrate be replaced with drywall or plasterboard. On a square metre basis, you should expect to pay anywhere from $100, though intricate or more difficult jobs, like repairing water-damaged plaster, might cost significantly more.
Our ceiling repairs team will take care of your plaster and lath problems in no time and leave no mess behind. Your ceiling issues require urgent attention, so we resolve them as soon as possible. Our ceiling fixers in Perth offer 24-hour repair services, so you can expect prompt, professional assistance on plaster ceiling repair whenever you need it.
By hiring Perth Ceiling Repairs to repair your lath and plaster ceilings, you can be assured of the most competitive prices and the best quality. Please speak to our team on 0414 213 006 for a free quote.