Old plastering and fireplaces

Hi,
Just started to redo my living room – and have finished removing the woodchip! The house is a 1860s Victorian mid-terrace and the walls are currently plastered – the bottom layer having hair in it – so I guess original. I have removed the skirts for replacement (along with big chunks of plaster). I intend to have painted, plastered walls and ceiling, so a good finish is essential. At some point UPVC double glazing front door and windows were installed, but instead of being plastered right up to the window, they put in fat white UPVC trim all around where the plaster bead/corner should be and siliconed it all in (oh, and installed a thin plastic windowsill for good measure!). I took this off, and the reason for it (other than being cheap!) became obvious – it wasn’t rebeaded underneath when the UPVC was installed. So…
-    I want to remove the trim and plaster the corner/bead right up to the window and door – will there be any problems with cracking due to shutting and opening of the window/doors, i.e. do you seal the join with a flexible material? What about draughts? -    Is there anything I need to be aware when plastering onto this old base of hair-plaster. Some of it will have to be hacked off as its rattling, but most is sound. Is there compatibility problems to be aware of? -    I have a few cracks in the lath and plaster ceiling – if they are taped before plastering should this stop further cracking once skimmed over? -    I’m putting plastic channelling in for wires before plastering over them – is it feasible to get wires into the channels after plastering – i.e. a year later when I need to run another circuit for e.g.? -    Is plumbing hot water pipes into plaster acceptable?
I have a marble fireplace which I need installing at the same time. Would you advise getting a specialist to do this first, or should any competent plasterer be able to do this for me??
Any help, ideas or advice gratefully received.
Thanks,
Richard.
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Richard Owen wrote:

"Living room" - better than "lounge", I suppose. Anyway:

I would say that most PVC replacement windows are installed to a standard that is not ideal. You should be able to improve matters greatly. Check for draughts around badly-fitted windows/cills.

Assuming the windows are fitted well, no. However... you may need to affix a batten with screws and gripfill and render up to it.

Yes. Seal-o-foam may be useful.

Cut out loose areas. Apply dilute PVA to the brickwork and plaster edges. PVA a good 6" onto the surface of the sound plaster too, you will see why in a min. Patch holes with first coat of 1:1:6 render, needn't be pretty, should be about 1/2 the thickness of your existing plaster (1/2"?). Drag a trowel edgewise over the surface or score to key whilst still wet. Leave it overnight at least to cure. Apply the top coat, 1:1:6 again. Use a straight edge to level. Allow to go off to a crumbly consistency, and scrape the patch surface back a couple of mm at least at the edges of the patch, preferably all over. You can use a wallpaper stripper or similar or tack a bit of something to your straight edge to make a scraper. The PVA that you applied to the sound plaster around the hole to be patched will have formed a scratch-resistant coat so you won't bugger up the existing finish too much. You will end up with:
------------- ,,,,,------- sound |...---''' new render scraped back at edge of patch | ##################### existing brickwork
or:
------------ sound |----------------------- | new render scraped back flat 2mm or so below sound
You might have to edit that to get it to show properly.
The purpose of scraping back at the patch edge (2-3" at least if not scraping all over) is to allow for the skim coat. The skim coat should be Thistle renovating finish or similar, multi-finish is too hard. Make sure that there isn't a "step" at the edge of the patch, or you'll have to mess with filler later to get anything like a good finish.

Don't tape. I shouldn't skim, either, it's likely to be a waste of time/money. DON'T rake out the cracks! Get a plastic squeezy bottle and some 15mm foam pipe lagging. Tie 2" or so of lagging onto the squeezy bottle (e.g. washing up bottle with nozzle taken off). Make sure it is tied on well!! Wrap the lagging with 2" waterproof tape, and cut off at the top to form a flat surface. Fill with dilute PVA, press the flat end of the lagging onto the ceiling, squeeze bottle to force PVA into crack. This will glue the crack together. You may need to wait overnight & re-do. Use about 5:1, this will go into even hairline cracks. Wear a bag over your hair! When all done, fill where needed with filler. I would be VERY tempted to apply lining paper and paint that.

Make sure your conduit is big enough, then OK. Why add wiring later if you're p[lanning your lighting now? Can you explain a bit?

I don't like this. Maybe OK if you wrapped them in foamed poly sheet like very thin lagging first, but I wouldn't. A bit of planning should allow you to box in in a corner or somewhere else unobtrusive.

If it's just the surround, anyone should be able to do it, but be careful of getting muck on the marble,it stains. Solid fuel? Gas? The "gubbins" may need special fitting.
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