Ripping out plaster..

I'm ripping out a room's plaster ceiling & walls....Any tips/tricks? I started the ceiling today....What a mess....Took an hour to get down a 3x10 section of ceiling......(punch & pull). Would it make more sence to use a receiprocating saw? This is on the 2nd floor and I'm carrying the debris out in 40 gallon cans (bagged).
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Gutted a house once:(
Is it lathe and plaster, or greenboard skimcoated with plaster?
Ideally you have a trailer or dumpster just under a window, and perhaps make up a chute. but plastrer is heavy and falls well with minimal dust outside. carrying out in trash cans is a killer
if lathe and plaster try to seperate boards from plaster, easier carrying.
try to get bar behind plaster and peel off, or use long handled shovel demo goes fast that way
if you can get disposable paper suit it will save lots of clean time for your body.
oddly enough I enjoy this kinda thing:) I guess I am a big kid!
if you have a lot to do get some help, its best to finish this part fast, then vacuum everything.
every old home has lead in paint, lead exposure is culmative. thats why is better to do it fast and clean up well, so you dont have time to get lead poisioning
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a pickaxe or similar tool can be a handy tool for ripping plaster. A recipro saw would only be useful if there were sections that you wanted to save by making clean cuts--even with special plaster blades, it's a slow process and uses a lot of blades. I know a remodeler who carries all his demo out in cardboard boxes, which are handy containers ready for the dumpster (that is if you can't get a dumpster close enought to toss directly into it) and easier to carry than 40 gallon cans. There ain't an easy way!
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Be sure you wear a good quality filter breathing mask. That plaster dust in not good for you.

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Having done more than a little bit of this, this is the method that worked best for me.
I beat on the wall-ceiling all over with a hammer to break the keys lose. Then with blue tarps covering the floor use a stiff blade floor scraper & run it at an angle to the lath. Mine fell right off. Don't take any more off than you & a helper can carry out in the tarp. Once all the plaster is off & cleaned out I went at the lath with a hook shaped crowbar. It's easy to bundle & tie at that point.
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If its wood lath with plaster. Knock off the plaster first, leave the lath till the end. Other posters have some good sugestions too.
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Just demolished plaster walls for a kitchen remodel. My thoughts: (1) buy a really good mask (may set you back $40) or you will be hacking for days, (2) put something really durable on the floor, like Tyvek, if you can use it for a later stage, or red rosin paper, which is cheaper -- a chunk of plaster can take a divet out of your floor. (3) turn off the circuits that run through the walls (!) (4) use a reciprocating saw (5) get a really powerful shop vac with a very fine filter (the one labeled for asbestos, which may be in the plaster, by the way, not to mention lead in the paint -- see (1)) (6) seal off the area with plastic.
Here's my method, for what it's worth: locate the studs. Cut a line from ceiling to floor halfway between the studs. Cut a line along the ceiling and the floor (to minimize dust, cut with recip saw while helper holds shop vac nozzle directly below the blade). If you're taking the whole wall out, cut through the studs, otherwise don't. If the studs are coming, they should pull down now with almost all the plaster attached -- carefully carry the whole heavy thing down to the waiting truck. If the studs aren't coming, position plastic tubs in front of a section, get in behind the plaster between plaster and studs and pry off. Carry tubs to waiting truck. Vacuum thoroughly. Drive to dump. Take off mask. Take shower.
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Do you really need to rip it all out, or just enough to update wiring? A home I bought a few years ago (built 1910) seems to have drywall over plaster. I noticed the longer screws and extenders to bring electrical outlets flush with the wall when correcting some reversed hot-neutral outlets.
This gives the home plenty of thermal mass to maintain a nice even temperature. For example with box fan in upstairs window on summer nights and closing blinds on sunny sides during day, I rarely need A/C. And temperature stays steady (elec. thermostat within 1 degree F) even when steam boiler does not run for hours at a time. In near 0 F weather (Chicago area), it steams about 30-35 minutes every 90-120 minutes.
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Gutting allows upgrading insulation! Plus rewiring and plumbing is just so muh easier, let alone old plaster is covered with lead paint. Gutting also uncovers other troubles you might not know you have. that need attended too.
Gutting is a LOT of intial work but pays off forever
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Not to brag, I ripped out the entire ceiling, 300 sq ft, in about 4 hours, with just a medium-size crowbar. The trick is to go at it like you're opening a can with one of those real old can openers, jab and pry, jab and pry. Cover the floor with plastic first, knock as much down as you can and still have room for your ladder, then clean up. It's quite a workout, I would not do this if there were any other way to fish wires or whatever, you hcave to get rid of the waste and then haul drywall.
With a reciprcating saw you can sort of bust it up but you may find live wires and/or plumbing as well. Use a circular saw set to the depth of the lathe, if anything (then throw out the blade).
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