2nd Floor Hallway
This hall takes ugly to a new level. That being
said, it is also what connects all the rooms upstairs. That
means that no matter where you go in this house, you end up looking
at this hall. Restoring this will make a world of difference
in the house for sure!
This project actually covers the
Hallways from the first floor up to the third. Plaster wall
and molding repairs can be tricky for a number of reasons. I
was talking to someone I met at a party who had restored their old
house and they strongly recommended using 1/4" sheetrock to "skin"
the walls. This was the best advice I could have gotten and
that is what this whole section is about.
If you are reading this, then you
probably own, or have owned an old house. Along with most old
houses comes plaster walls. Along with some plaster walls comes
cracks, and in the case of this house, some of the cracks are pretty
severe. With all of that being said, there are few ways to
deal with these cracks.
Repair the crack
- gouge out the loose plaster, pre-fill anything really deep, use
drywall tape or mesh over the crack, then feather the spackle out
nice and wide to blend into the existing wall.
Demolish and replace
- Major mess, often requires removing existing doorframes, window
frames. The bad news is that The good news here is the fix is
pretty much permanent.
Good News -
Permanent fix - opportunity for insulation, and
new electrical outlets
Bad News -
Huge mess - major amount of work, expensive
Skin it with 1/4" Sheetrock
When you skin a wall with 1/4"
sheetrock, you need to have enough depth in your baseboards, window
and door frames to lose a 1/4" and still look natural. In my
case all the woodwork was made with 1 1/4" thick wood. Losing
a 1/4" everywhere made no noticeable change.
The Plaster Moldings
Okay, bear with me here, this is
really hard to explain. All long the ceilings (in the whole
house) are plaster moldings. This is the one place where I
don't have enough depth to lose that 1/4". So to compensate, I
ordered a whole lot of 5/8" bull-nosed flex moldings. These
were nailed/glued directly beneath the plaster moldings with the
intention of being blended in as an extra ridge. Now, the
sheetrock butts up underneath, nice and tight. Once blended
and painted it will look like it all has been there from the start.
This may sound like a big pain in the neck, and quite
frankly it is, but it beats the alternative. In the end, the
plaster moldings all need repair anyway, so what is a little extra
blending work, while your up there right? The new bull-nose
molding also provides an opportunity to compensate for some settling
issues by providing a new straight base line. The eye sees
this as straight, when actually the gap is still there it is just
above the plaster molding line and gets lost in the detail.
Loose plaster is removed and then we start filling in
the deep patches.
Add some plaster, let it dry, repeat until filled.
Then shape the extra by carefully shaving and shaping.
The corner looks like new!
So, the deal here is that we are skinning the walls.
The 1/4" sheetrock is applied just like regular sheetrock. The
only challenge is finding the studs in the walls. These old
houses didn't use 16" on-center framing. We just drilled small
holes when in question . Anyway, we just put up a lot of
sheetrock over all the walls and the arch.
This is where the chimney runs through the hallway.
In other words, no studs to screw into here. Just plaster over
brick. So we covered the wall with construction adhesive.
Then took a bunch of studs that stretched across the hall to the
opposite wall and wedged it tightly in place overnight. Sorry
for the two pictures, instead of one, but it was a little tight.
I'm sure you get the idea.
Here we go with the corbels again! There is no
good way to sheetrock around these, so out they come! They
need to be restored anyway. I'm not going to write about that
here. You can see the process we went through in either the
Parlor or the
Reception Hall. The wall will be skinned and smooth when
they get back from their tune-up.
With the walls being permanently covered, we were
able to add a new switch for a third floor hallway light and another
to turn on the Attic-house fans in the Summer. Nice added
Some of the pieces take a bit more time than
Cutting curved pieces can be a bit of a challenge -
if you want it to fit the first time. Funny, I still hear
myself (as a kid) saying "why do I have to learn this? I'm
never gonna use this in the real world.. (That is why I had my
friend John do this, I am no mathematician!)
The result was a perfect fit to the
curved plaster moldings. Just a little blending and it looks
Then we filled and sanded the
ceiling as well as the ceiling medallion.
The Third Floor Ceiling and Walls
I know this page is supposed to be
about the second floor hallway project, but sometime these projects
bleed into one another. The BIG problem with the third floor
hallway was the ceiling. It was replaced many years ago and
was just thrown up without proper support. What remained was
just a mess. So the only solution was to remove it completely
and replace it. Sounds easy right? Not so fast.
That ceiling is part of a hallway/staircase that passes through all
three floors of the house. In short, pulling this down would
cause a debris cloud that would trash the whole house. So we
built a platform at the top of the stairs with a hinged hatch door.
This view is from the third floor
with the hatch closed. Once up there, you just close the hatch
cover the railings with plastic and you essentially have a sealed
room to do your demolition in without spreading the mess. But,
that leaves two problems. How do we get the debris out of the
house? And, obviously it needs to be done in one shot so you
can clean the room (and hatch) before opening it up to get
"Say Hello to my little
friend" We rigged a pulley system with a debris bucket
attached. So, on demolition day, one person is on the ground
and another in the sealed third floor hallway. Down comes the
ceiling. The debris is broken up and shoveled into
buckets. The buckets are then put out the window and lowered
to the platform below. The second person takes the bucket off
and takes it to the dumpster, then returns it to the pulley.
Rinse and repeat.
The ceiling was completely removed,
and the hall was vacuumed and sponged clean in a matter of
hours. No dust leaked downstairs - none!
All the proper supports were later
added and the ceiling was replaced. The walls were covered
with 1/4" sheetrock.
There was no light fixture in the
Third floor hall. While we were re-structuring the ceiling supports, we added a line for a light and ran the switch to the
bottom of the stairs. So, where there is light, why not add a
medallion. This medallion was given to me by a friend who down
props for movies. It was actually cast from an original
plaster medallion. It is made of some very light weight resin
material, but looks exactly like plaster. I laid it out on the
dining room table and painted it, I cut the hole for the light
fixture with a scroll saw.
I applied a good amount of construction
And smooshed it onto the ceiling with a simple
support I made with a chunk of thick insulation for padding. I
just wedged it there overnight. If you look closely, there are
pencil marks that I put on the ceiling that show me what is square
to the walls. This is really important, because the medallion
tend to travel a bit while the adhesive is still wet. this gives you
something to watch until it firms up, to ensure you don't take off
the support the next day and find a crooked (permanently mounted)
The After Pictures
Third Floor Hallway Ceiling
Second Floor Hallway Medallion and Fixture
The original doors did have the small brass knockers,
most of which were missing. So I decided to get new ones.
The most time consuming thing with this hall was
finishing all the doors. There are six bedrooms, a laundry
room and a bathroom all connected to this hall.
This is the Laundry room door. I saw this sign
in a store and couldn't resist.
you have any questions please e-mail us at: