Antique horsehair plaster has a historical charm that you just don’t find in newer buildings.
Most painters and craftsmen will take one look at crumbling horsehair plaster and tell you it can’t be restored, and you should just drywall over it.
Personally, I love the charm of historical plaster with it’s uneven character and hand tooled craftsmanship. That’s why I’ve spent the better part of 2 decades fixing and restoring horsehair plaster in homes across southern NH.
The first thing we need to consider is that horsehair plaster does not react like most other surfaces. As older houses move and breathe with the changing temperatures and humidity, old school plaster needs to remain strong, while still moving with the building.
So before you let anyone come in to restore your old horsehair plaster, make sure they know what they’re doing. Because there’s a big difference between something that looks good for a couple months (before it starts cracking) and something that will last for another 10 or 20 years, or more.
Here’s a few pictures for you to look at of some old plaster I’ve fixed. If you have old horsehair plaster in your home call me before you tear it down, cover it with sheetrock, or let some hack come in and just start slinging joint compound all over your walls.
Before and after pictures of horsehair plaster repair…
This first ceiling had seen better days. Now it’s seeing better days again…
This next room is about 150 years old, and it was showing its age…
Now it should last for another generation…
When the roof leaked on this next house, the homeowner saw a bulge in his horsehair plaster ceiling. He poked it with a stick and a section of ceiling came crashing down at his feet. The roofer fixed the leaky roof, then I fixed the ceiling and painted the room.
In this next room the walls were pretty solid. A few areas needed some extra attention (a few settling cracks and a some broken keys here and there) but mostly the walls just had the look of pock marked concrete, and the homeowner wanted the walls to be smooth. So all that was needed was some minor repairs and a resurfacing skim coat (and some paint)…
Here’s another one where I discovered an old chimney hidden behind the wallpaper
it had a hole in it that used to be for a wood stove in the room. The homeowner decided to leave access to the chimney (just in case they ever wanted to put a wood stove back in the room) so I left the hole open and covered it with a decorative tin plate
This next ceiling had been neglected for a while. It was finally time to fix it.
Now it will last for many years to come…
I’ve got a lot more pictures where these came from, and I’ll try to add some more to this page when I get a chance, but right now I have to get back to work.
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