I've just bought an ex-council house, built in the 50s I believe. I've stripped all the woodchip off the bedroom walls but discovered that it's been hiding a multitude of sins. There are a a few large cracks running down from the ceiling to just under halfway down the wall These are about 1cm wide at the widest point. I think (hope) these aren't structural and just settling cracks in the plaster. Also where there was coving these have been removed at some point and have pulled the plaster away from the join between wall and ceiling leaving about a 2cm gap. At some points I can see the brickwork behind.
There is also some softish grey sandy stuff, between plaster and brickwork which seems to crumble away if I tap at it so doesn't seem to be a good base to plaster over.
Basically, I was wondering:
1) Do you think I should get a professional in to look at the cracks? Could they be something serious or just settling cracks like I hope?
2) If they are settling cracks could it be something I could tackle with
regards filling them in? I was going to widen the gaps and properly fill them in as although it looks like someone has unsuccessfully tried to fill these in I think they just plastered them in without doing this.
3) What is the softish sandy stuff? It seems a bit of a pain to remove as although I haven't got stuck in with tapping the loose bits off I'm a bit worried that if I start doing that I may start removing most of the plaster off the wall. Is the soft bit probably confined to a small area and will it eventually reach harder bits of it which I could then prepare for plastering?
4) How would I fill in the gap between ceiling and wall? Is it just a case of packing in the plaster through layers of the stuff and then smoothing off?
Apologies for all these questions, I am a bit of a newby but am keen to learn and hopefully save myself a few bob if this isn't a major job.
'What is the softish sandy stuff? It seems a bit of a pain to remove as although I haven't got stuck in with tapping the loose bits off I'm a bit worried that if I start doing that I may start removing most of the plaster off the wall. Is the soft bit probably confined to a small area and will it eventually reach harder bits of it which I could then prepare for plastering?.
Where are the sandy bits ? any sign of water damage in the past, leaking gutters etc ?
Normally the soft areas are quite small and you do normally reach good solid walls.
Are you going to paint, or paper ? worth getting a platerer in to make good and re-skim the walls and ceilings ?
The softish bits are just behind the hard plaster on the walls and before you get to the brick. Seems like it's a layer of the stuff between the brickwork and the plaster.
To be honest they are only really soft around the areas where I've pulled screws out of the walls. These have left holes about the size of a golf ball and if I just tap in these it kinda falls out like sand. Just not sure if that will eventually reach harder stuff??
oops forgot to say as well. No sign of damp - although this softish stuff is also round a little gas heater that is on top of the stairs. Could this gas heater have caused a bit of heat to form on the walls around it? Should I get this removed?
Plan is to paint the walls so would like a nice finish.
In my experience the soft browny stuff, Which will be the old browning or render coat. Has past it's best and has had it's day, if your going to start knocking patches off it makes a mess, so i'd do it all.
I think the soft stuff is actually the old brown plaster. There are some parts that are still quite hard though so my last question is, how can I remove this harder plaster without damaging the brickwork behind?
I do have some cracks which I want to get behind to see if the brickwork is damaged so don't want to go in too hard.
You'll find soft stuff naturally will come of quite easy with very little resistance, as for the harder stuff there are two ways one which will involve a lot of elbow grease and one not so much.
Elbow Grease: Lump/Club Hammer and bolster chisel and knock off that way!
You could if you wished use a SDS hammer drill with SDS chisel attachment.
If you apply the chisel at an angle of about 25 degrees to wall should not damage brickwork, be carefull off electric cables, pipe work etc and use correct PPE ie gloves, goggles, dust mask. Remove all furniture from rooms and carpet if possible. i'd suggest dust sheets and also cover over doors and doorways as a barrier to prevent dust spreading.
Glad to be of help sorry that the solution was not quick a easy one,
the other plaster would have in time gone the same way as the soft/crumbling plaster is now and you will find that it wil most probally fall of or come loose whist you are removing to do the patches.
You have made the right choice a job worth doing (worth doing well)
Good Luck happy diying