How To Repair Plaster
- Walls and Ceilings

Nothing turns off a prospective home buyer eyeing a beautiful older house like ugly or damaged plaster. 

And perhaps nothing irritates a homeowner more than living for years with plaster cracks, holes and sags in his walls and ceilings.

Because to repair plaster effectively may seem . . . difficult.

Often we put off things like this because we dread the expense or mess of solving the problem. And, we may lack the knowledge of how it should be done and so we are not eager to delve into the whole thing.

Well, there are realistic options. If money is not the largest consideration, it is possible to find plaster contractors who are knowledgeable and skilled in dealing with plaster problems of all sorts.

However, if you are a motivated do-it-yourselfer, it is also possible with the right materials and techniques to repair plaster walls or ceilings yourself and even dress them up, if you choose, with your own texture effects.

You may save yourself a bundle in the process and have the joy of a nice looking job with a personal touch.

Realistically, not everyone can do it. To repair plaster takes motivation, because the job is essentially messy and takes time over a number of days (weeks?) to complete. But if you have taken on other home improvement projects successfully, you probably have the confidence to tackle this.

Repairing plaster is not terribly complicated. I know people who have done it (besides myself) and found the process satisfying (especially once they're done!) With knowledge and practice and patience during your learning curve, it is do-able.

Enough about motivation. So, how exactly is this done?

Your plaster repair problems may be limited to, say, a few dings in the walls and an occasional crack. Or, moving up the scale, you have some gaping holes in the plaster where plumbers went to work, or the electrician did some upgrades for you. Or, you may have some badly water-damaged ceilings, with peeling paint and sagging plaster. Or, simply, the plaster texture stinks.

In all such cases, you will, if you follow the methods I use in my work, be using drywall finishing materials, and in some cases, limited amounts of drywall to repair plaster walls/ceilings. These are not the only way to repair plaster, but for the homeowner doing his own work, they are the easiest and most practical things to use.

The nice thing about drywall compound, for instance, is simplicity of use, and its versatility. It will stick well to old plaster that has been cleaned and prepped properly, and "mistakes" can be sanded off or wetted and scraped. You can even practice on scraps of drywall or primed plywood (or a garage wall, etc.). This gives you some experience in handling the tools and materials and tells you how quickly you will get the hang of it.

Each repair plaster project is approached differently. Patching small dings in a plaster wall is one thing; filling a large hole cut through the plaster is another. Water-damaged plaster is treated in one way; plaster cracks in another. Ceilings that sag may require a complete makeover, maybe even including an overlay of drywall if the damage is extensive enough.

For each particular problem then, you will need specialized knowledge and techniques. And, in most cases, you will have more than one type of problem.

Obviously, there is far more information needed than can be given in a short article like this. I realized some time ago that there exists a big need for a source of comprehensive information about plaster repair designed especially for the frustrated homeowner.

For that reason, I have developed a website which deals with all kinds of plaster repair problems.

  • discussion of several common types of plaster systems found in the US
  • exact details about how to repair almost every kind of common defect
  • comprehensive discussion of materials, tools, and techniques used to repair plaster.
  • ideas about how to develop your own unique texture patterns, with some examples
  • frequently asked questions
  • personalized answers to questions posed on the Contact Me page.

Here's the website for all your: repair plaster solutions at

About the Author
Edwin Brown is a licensed and bonded plaster repair and renovation specialist with 35+ years experience. He works on the west coast of the USA.

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