Just bought a new house with the lathing and plaster walls. I'm pretty sure
there's chicken wire back there too. My question is, whats the best way to
cut a hole for a new electrical receptacle in this type of wall without
doing to much damage to wall surrounding the new hole?
Thanks in advance!
Put the outlet next to a stud and make your first cut farthest away from the
stud. Obviously your last cut will be the one that butts with the stud. I
drill out the four corners and use a jigsaw.
If you make your cuts the opposite way you run the risk of wrecking your
wall as the lathe will shake in the wall. Mud and a large cover will fix it.
My approach in our 1926 house with plaster/lath walls is to EXPECT to
do replastering around new or replacement boxes. Here is what I do.
The hole is cut to a good size with respect to the lath while removing
plaster as needed but trying to bridge the lath for what lath remains.
I use old work boxes with the top and bottom screw wings but never use
the boxes with side wings. I bridge floating lath with pieces of lath
that are glued to the remaining lath, and sometimes use sheet metal
screws (3/4 or 1/2 inch #6) to hold the lath in place if I'm in a hurry.
The box tabs are adjusted so that they rest against the top and
bottom lath, and if necessary I will add extra lath pieces to get a good
screw hold. The box edge comes flush with the final finished plaster
Wires are of course put into the box before screwing it in place -- if
they are there to do it then. Finally I do one- or two-coat plastering
around the box, often including replastering where loose plaster was
I use Gypsum for first coat (I can never remember what its proper name
is!) followed by the Diamond white finish coat a day later.
The boxes are FIRMLY in place this way where ever they are wrt studs.
I do drywall similarly, but use pieces of lath or other strips of wood
glued behind the drywall to take the screws. Then mud is used to fill
the area around the box, and even over the box screws which are either
against the wood or sunk some into the drywall (sheet rock).
These procedures seem to me to give a more professional job with
physically stronger installation than using the side-wing boxes. But as
always, this is just my approach and others do different things. --Phil
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org Youngstown State University
I recently did a lot of this in my own 1895 house. Used a 4.5 inch
grinder with a diamond blade on it. No teeth to get things vibrating
and it went through the (wood) lathe and plaster like butter. If you
do have chicken wire or some other type of wire mesh I'm not sure how
well it would work. I would go with the Robo Zip. Actually, I recently
bought the Craftsman equivalent of the Robo Zip for about half the
cost. It is on sale at Sears right now for $29.99.
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