How to Repair Plaster Walls & Ceilings

Damaged plaster is an eyesore. No one wants to look at a plaster wall or ceiling with a hole, crack or chip in it. Hiring someone to fix it can be expensive, though. Want to do it yourself, and save money while you're at it? You can, especially if you already have some of the tools you'll need.

You can repair plaster walls in a few easy steps.

It may seem like an intimidating project, but don't worry. The procedure is actually fairly simple.

  1. Lay down drop cloths around the repair area to protect the floors and walls. Secure the cloths in place with painter's tape.

  2. Scrap away peeled or chipped paint with a putty knife. In some cases, you may want to scrape chipped or peeled paint around the circumference of the damaged area.

  3. Drill a hole every 3 inches around the damaged area using a 3/16-inch carbide-tipped masonry drill bit. Only drill into the plaster. You do not want to drill through the wooden lath, so only drill very shallow holes to avoid this.

  4. Use a wet/dry vacuum to clean dust and debris out of the holes.

  5. Squirt liquid conditioner into each of the holes. Use a paper towel or sponge to clean any conditioner that drips down the wall.

  6. Shoot adhesive into each of the holes with your caulking gun.

  7. Drill a plaster ring into each hole before the adhesive dries.

  8. Unscrew all of the screws and remove the rings after the adhesive has dried.

  9. Use a putty knife to level any uneven parts of the adhesive.

  10. Prepare the joint-compound mixture. Depending on the type of joint compound you purchase, you may need to do some preparation. "Ready-mix" joint compound is a premade mixture that is ready to be used straight out of the can. Traditional joint compound is sold as a powder and you must add water to it. Follow the instructions on your joint-compound package to properly mix it.

  11. Use the putty knife again to apply a thin layer of joint compound to the wall.

  12. Let the joint compound dry for 12 to 15 hours.

  13. Sand the area smooth using a piece of 120-grit sandpaper. Gently rub in a circular motion over the compound until the area is smooth.

  14. Add another very thin coat of joint compound.

  15. Apply primer to the repaired area and paint over it.