Removing plaster and putting up drywall in a kitchen - suggestions?

Hi there,
We moved into a 1930s bungalow last year that has plaster and lath throughout the house. We are looking to update our kitchen. Previous owners installed weird vinyl sheets of tile looking material on the bottom half of the wall and then added a textured spray paint over top of this. It looks absolutely hideous! We have removed a small portion of this in an unobtrusive spot to see what were dealing with. It appears that the vinyl was glued directly to the plaster. When we took it off, the plaster completely crumbled exposing the lath. We are looking for some advice as to what to do with this. Currently we are considering removing all the weird tile stuff, which will most likely cause most of the plaster to come down. Two of the walls are exterior walls so we would like to put some insulation up as well. The cost of totally re-plastering the whole room is probably greater than what we have planned and budgeted for. Our current game plan is to 1)    remove the vinyl stuff and the plaster down to the lath, sadly this will be floor to ceiling because I cant figure out a good way to do only the bottom half of the wall where the vinyl is attached 2)    Install 1x3 furring strips and insert 1 pink foamboard insulation on the two exterior walls. The alternative is to remove the lath here as well and frame a new wall with 2x2s or 2x3s and insulate. 3)    Hang drywall over the lath or insulation (1/4 over the insulation and something thinker over the lath) 4)    Install beadboard wainscoting with a ply cap on the bottom half of the walls.
What we are concerned about is how to deal with the existing moulding around the doors and windows. Its really nice and we fear it would get damaged if we had to remove and reinstall it.
We have also had a suggestion to remove the lath on the interior walls and just affix the drywall to the studs.
Any suggestions as to what to do with our mess? This is our first major DIY project and were just a little on the nervous side! Thanks Hayley
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On 3/23/2011 7:25 PM, HalesC wrote:

Any reason you can't remove the lath on ALL the walls, and just insulate the stud bays? Or did I miss where the exterior walls are other than stud construction? Why do you need to fur them out? 1930s-era 2x4s are deeper than modern, in most cases, and should give adequate insulation. Just for giggles, get a quote on getting the walls shot with foam- highest insulation value, and will tighten up your probably-air-leaky walls.
The molding is not a big issue, unless it is some exotic profile that you cannot buy at local lumberyard. It likely has multiple coats of lead-based paint anyway, so unless it is quarter-sawn oak or something, is not worth the labor of stripping. If it IS hardwood with a clear finish, you can pull it off and reuse it. A couple of Stanley flatbars and stiff putty knives will handle it. Note that the wall you put back needs to be same thickness as the old plaster and lath, or you will need to add a thin layer of wood under where the molding sits, to make it all line up.
You do know that you will need to remove the cabinets to do this rehab correctly, right? And that in a 1930s house, if they are they original cabinets, they were probably built in place? Unless you want to replace with modern box cabinets, building new cabinets in place is not a DIY job unless you have a table saw and experience.
Pictures speak louder than words- try library or bookstore and look at books on period renovations. Any one task is easy- it is only when you are standing at the foot of the mountain that it seems impossible. Start knowing that it will take more time and money than you think it will. If there is no way to set up a temporary kitchen elsewhere in house (like in laundry area, with a microwave to cook), seriously consider hiring out part of the work. Eating takeout constantly gets tiring, and is hard on wallet and health.
--
aem sends...

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On Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:25:35 -0700 (PDT), HalesC

I've got a similar project in mind for my kitchen. House is circa 1959. Outside wall and one adjacent wall. Wife doesn't like the 1" tiles on lower half, the built in cabinets are shot, and the electric needs upgrading. Here's my plan, and it should be basically what you'll do. Tear out the 2 walls (you might do 4 walls) to the studs. In my place the outside wall is brick, so there's furring strips and little space for insulation. It's all drywall. With plaster you want to be aware that sometimes the backing isn't level - the plasterer made the wall level. So check that before you slap up drywall. You didn't mention whether you have studs or furring there. I haven't decided whether or not to build out the exterior wall with studs. Would have to box out the back door and a window. But I could get good insulation in and standard electrical boxes. The ceiling will need taping at minimum. Might have to do more there, not sure yet. But I'm anticipating.
Here's the main issues to think about. Don't worry about moulding. It's easily replaced. Think about the insulation, plumbing and electrical to be done now. Think about transition points - can they be taped/plastered or should they be replaced? If you have a plastered ceiling and don't want to replace it give some thought to cutting it where it meets the wall so it can be replastered nicely. You may want to gut the entire room. Give some thought to disposing of the old stuff, taping sheeting at the doors so you get dust throughout the house, vacuuming, dust masks, etc. You don't want to do a lot of work to end up with a butchered job. Sometimes less is more, but sometime you just have to do more to get enough. If you plan it well you can continue to use the kitchen to cook. But you might eat out or use the microwave more. Cover appliances with plastic sheeting and move them off the wall you are working on. The sink might be a bigger problem, so you might have to wash dishes elsewhere. I can use the basement sink. I know my sink will be down for most of the job. Anyway, think it out well and plan well. If you have specific questions, there's guys here who can answer them.
--Vic
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We moved into a 1930s bungalow last year that has plaster and lath throughout the house. We are looking to update our kitchen. Previous owners installed weird vinyl sheets of tile looking material on the bottom half of the wall and then added a textured spray paint over top of this. It looks absolutely hideous! We have removed a small portion of this in an unobtrusive spot to see what were dealing with. It appears that the vinyl was glued directly to the plaster. When we took it off, the plaster completely crumbled exposing the lath. We are looking for some advice as to what to do with this. Currently we are considering removing all the weird tile stuff, which will most likely cause most of the plaster to come down. Two of the walls are exterior walls so we would like to put some insulation up as well. The cost of totally re-plastering the whole room is probably greater than what we have planned and budgeted for. Our current game plan is to 1) remove the vinyl stuff and the plaster down to the lath, sadly this will be floor to ceiling because I cant figure out a good way to do only the bottom half of the wall where the vinyl is attached 2) Install 1x3 furring strips and insert 1 pink foamboard insulation on the two exterior walls. The alternative is to remove the lath here as well and frame a new wall with 2x2s or 2x3s and insulate. 3) Hang drywall over the lath or insulation (1/4 over the insulation and something thinker over the lath) 4) Install beadboard wainscoting with a ply cap on the bottom half of the walls.
What we are concerned about is how to deal with the existing moulding around the doors and windows. Its really nice and we fear it would get damaged if we had to remove and reinstall it.
We have also had a suggestion to remove the lath on the interior walls and just affix the drywall to the studs.
Any suggestions as to what to do with our mess? This is our first major DIY project and were just a little on the nervous side! Thanks Hayley
*First thing you should do is set up a temporary kitchen somewhere else in the house. You need to have some sense of normal living while your kitchen is demolished. Hang sheets of plastic over the door openings of the existing kitchen to keep the dust contained.
Strip all of the walls and ceiling back to the original wood framing. As someone else pointed out there will be lead paint on everything. You can neatly remove the existing wood moulding and strip it yourself or have it striped or just plan to buy new stuff. Remove the wood lath because some of that will need to be taken down anyway for plumbing and electrical work. It will be easier for the contractors if there aren't any obstacles.
Prepare for the worst. Most likely you will discover other problems such as plumbing and electrical issues. You should also plan on bringing the kitchen up to the current electrical code. Think about heating and cooling.
Because of the age, you will need to follow EPA guidelines for working in a home with lead. There is plenty of information on the EPA's web site about this.
Plan as much as possible before starting the project. You can save some money by doing some things yourself, but it will take longer. You should consider your experience and skills and tool collection when planning on what you will do instead of paying a qualified contractor to do.
Get permits and inspections for everything.
Talk to suppliers, contractors, designers, neighbors, friends, relatives, your mailman, etc as almost everyone has some experience doing a remodeling project on different scales. You will hear horror stories and good stories.
If the job is well planned and well financed and contractors do all of the work, this project could be finished in 4-6 weeks. I had a husband and wife call me for the wiring of two 1950's bathrooms that they were going to remodel themselves. They had a third bathroom that they were going to use for a family of four. They did the demolishing themselves and called me when they were ready to do the rough-in the wiring and paid me for the rough-in. They called me back a year later when they were ready to finish the electrical work. They did everything else themselves.
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Hi there,
We moved into a 1930s bungalow last year that has plaster and lath throughout the house. We are looking to update our kitchen. Previous owners installed weird vinyl sheets of tile looking material on the bottom half of the wall and then added a textured spray paint over top of this. It looks absolutely hideous! We have removed a small portion of this in an unobtrusive spot to see what were dealing with. It appears that the vinyl was glued directly to the plaster. When we took it off, the plaster completely crumbled exposing the lath. We are looking for some advice as to what to do with this. Currently we are considering removing all the weird tile stuff, which will most likely cause most of the plaster to come down. Two of the walls are exterior walls so we would like to put some insulation up as well. The cost of totally re-plastering the whole room is probably greater than what we have planned and budgeted for. Our current game plan is to 1) remove the vinyl stuff and the plaster down to the lath, sadly this will be floor to ceiling because I cant figure out a good way to do only the bottom half of the wall where the vinyl is attached 2) Install 1x3 furring strips and insert 1 pink foamboard insulation on the two exterior walls. The alternative is to remove the lath here as well and frame a new wall with 2x2s or 2x3s and insulate. 3) Hang drywall over the lath or insulation (1/4 over the insulation and something thinker over the lath) 4) Install beadboard wainscoting with a ply cap on the bottom half of the walls.
What we are concerned about is how to deal with the existing moulding around the doors and windows. Its really nice and we fear it would get damaged if we had to remove and reinstall it.
We have also had a suggestion to remove the lath on the interior walls and just affix the drywall to the studs.
Any suggestions as to what to do with our mess? This is our first major DIY project and were just a little on the nervous side! Thanks Hayley
I have done this quite a few times. Careful work can save the trim.
First score the joints at the wall and where it meets the wood on the other side. A utility knife or one of those scoring tools made for hardie backer will cut the caulk and paint and break the seam.
Then slowly and carefully start prying at the bottom on the wall side using a flat bar. The miters at the top will be cross nailed from the sides and the top. Extra care is needed here.
Label each piece as you remove it. Don't drive the nails back out. Pull them from the backside using vice grip type pliers.
If you break a piece just glue it back together.
Your studs will need to be furred out so that half inch drywall will mate with you window and door casings.
Questions? I am a regular here.
--
Colbyt
Please come visit http://www.househomerepair.com
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On 3/24/2011 3:33 PM Colbyt spake thus:

I like that you acknowledged the OP's desire to save and re-use the trim, something that seems to have escaped other respondents who breezily suggest that you can just replace it (you can't, at least not easily, at least not if you want to retain the profile of the existing trim).
After all, the OP did say:

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You have gotten some good advice. I will concur/reinforce a few points and add a point or two. Agree on saving the moulding and how to do it. Also agree with the poster who said to remove all the cabinets and everything first then figure on stripping down the whole wall, whichever walls you are doing.
When you take off the plaster and see the lath, what is behind the lath? Most likely the lath is nailed onto studs and the best thing is to take off the old lath, and insulate between the studs on the outside walls. First do or have done whatever wiring or plumbing needs doing. Then consider installing fiberglass insulation - it's pretty good insulation, cheap, comes precut to standard stud cavity sizes, doesn't rot or burn, and is pretty easy to work with except for the nasty itch factor. Wear a mask while working with it. Then cover with drywall. Drywall is great stuff, again easy to work with and cheap. Since the old lath and plaster is probably thicker than standard half inch drywall, you might need to shim it our or use two layers. You might consider jobbing the drywall out, it's not too expensive and they do it well and fast; also they will know how to handle the shimming. If you do it yourself read up on the finishing process, it's a little tricky but certainly doable for the DIYer. One other tip, I think someone mentioned this but the scoring tools made for cutting cement board (e.g. Durock or Wonderboard) work great for cutting plaster. It's a simple cheap hand tool. Use it for example to make a clean edge where the wall meets the ceiling. Don't try to use a power tool for cutting plaster it will just wreck the blade, make sparks and so on - that plaster is like cement. Removing the lath and plaster will make a big mess and you will have a lot of stuff to get rid of, no way around that. -- H
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