stucco yucko
August 19, 2008 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Mrs Baggers and I have just bought a house, and one of the rooms has walls covered with this ugly, bumpy stucco like stuff (photo here). What's the best option for getting rid of it? Should we sand it down or try and cover it over?
posted by baggers to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It may be asbestos-based. Have it checked by an expert before you do anything.
posted by TheRaven at 6:51 PM on August 19, 2008

Response by poster: Asbestos based? God I hope not. Just to clarify; this is an interior wall, adn the stuff is on all 4 walls.
posted by baggers at 6:57 PM on August 19, 2008

No expert, but paint strip it?? Only issue might be that it was used to hide other flaws with the wall, so you'll be revealing a whole 'nother problem!
posted by AnnaRat at 7:01 PM on August 19, 2008

Looks like stucco to me. This forum may help: DIY. I don't think asbestos will be a problem, so much as lead. Make sure to wear masks if you do any sanding or demolition.

If you don't want to remove it and decide to drywall over it all like a friend of mine did, consider moving your existing electrical outlets & switches. She didn't move them during construction and found that they were all too deeply inset to put regular covers over.
posted by blackkar at 7:06 PM on August 19, 2008

Um, I meant stucco or plaster.
posted by blackkar at 7:09 PM on August 19, 2008

It's not asbestos. There is no easy way to change it. I would scrape off what I could, it won't be easy to sand because it is covered with paint. Then plaster (drywall compound) over it, sand, plaster again, sand, etc., until smooth. It is not as much work as it seems once you get going. Use a large wide, over 12" knife, and it will go quickly.
Another option is to scrape the high spots and redo the whole room with 3/8" drywall right over it, then you have to tape and plaster also.
posted by lee at 7:09 PM on August 19, 2008

Asbestos is definitely the concern here. I have to imagine this is an older house. This article describes the issue a little bit. Popcorn ceilings are the usual culprit, but there are texturized wall coatings that also have asbestos. Maybe you could skim coat it with tons of plaster? However, you'd still have to sand it some and you'd risk hitting the older layer.

Aside from the asbestos issue, as the owner of an older home, I'd probably give up and put up a new layer of sheetrock. Straight, flat walls are so nice.
posted by pekala at 7:10 PM on August 19, 2008

nthing asbestos concerns. If the house is more than 25 years old, get it tested before you start scraping it/etc.
posted by liquado at 7:15 PM on August 19, 2008

Also, my homeowner perspective tells me this is DEFINITELY covering up something worse on the walls underneath. But maybe they just liked the look. You never know.
posted by pekala at 7:15 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

And such a lovely color!

I guess you have three choices: tear it out, cover it up, or live with it.

How old is the house? We have been working on our first house and have taken down pretty much all the non-load-bearing interior walls. We've found layers of horse-hair plaster, lath, flattened cardboard boxes, part of a defunct fireplace, old newspaper, scary wiring, old shoes, awesome wallpaper, lead paint, beaverboard, rats' nests, cellulose insulation, and even, sometimes, actual drywall. Our house dates from 1831, though, so that covers a long period of time. No telling what that goop on your wall is covering up, til you bash through it. Is it ONLY on interior walls?

If it were me, I wouldn't sand it. Knocking stuff down makes ENOUGH dust. Either have sledgehammer fun and replace it with sheetrock, or simply cover it with sheetrock.

I'd bash through it and yank it all out. If it were merely covered, I'd always be disturbed, knowing it was lurking back there behind the nice fresh walls.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:16 PM on August 19, 2008

/not an expert at anything, don't blame me if your house implodes.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:19 PM on August 19, 2008

It's an interior wall? Tear it out. Really. it will be less work and mess in the end to get it demolished and then have proper new drywall put in its place. Sanding will take a long time and make an insidious mess.

Or, per Lou Stuells' comment, get thin drywall and just cover it up. Seriously. This will be cheap, fast and produce a very good result, except where the wall meets a doorframe. No demolotion or mess necessary (except for sanding the drywall mud). In our old house they didn't even remove the baseboard when they did this - the new drywall actually overhung the baseboard. I would spring for the expense of new baseboard though.
posted by GuyZero at 7:33 PM on August 19, 2008

drywall over it... easy, clean, simple
posted by HuronBob at 7:34 PM on August 19, 2008

Sheetrocking over will be the least work, you don't even need to fill screw holes if you glue the new rock to the old. You can buy extension rings for your outlets and light switches rather than moving the boxes.
posted by Mitheral at 7:38 PM on August 19, 2008

If you do tear out the walls, strangly consider sticking in some insulation before you stick on the new stuff. Temperature and sound damping goodness.
posted by kjs4 at 8:04 PM on August 19, 2008

You left out the important information of what you would want the wall to look like.

I´ve seen a lot of very nice stucco walls. This is not one of them.

It could be plastered over if you like nice plastered walls, or stuccoed over if you like nice stucco walls, or drywalled over if you like nice drywalled walls. You could cover it all with metal or fabric if you´re into that sort of thing. DIY for stucco or plaster is unlikely to result in a nice finish the first time around. Practice on some scrap material first.
posted by yohko at 8:31 PM on August 19, 2008

My mom recently decided to tackle a bathroom that had all four walls covered in this style, except worse than the picture you posted. It was bad enough if you accidentally brushed up against the wall too hard it would puncture skin.

What she did was use a paint scraper and just scraped it off. If you're looking for something totally smooth it probably wont work, but it got rid of the terrible stucco and left a much nicer texture. It wasn't too hard since you're basically just scraping off lots of paint, I think I did about half the bathroom in under an hour. Certainly easier than ripping out the whole wall.
posted by yellowlightman at 5:54 AM on August 20, 2008

Here in Texas, where you don't see real Stucco inside, that's just known as "wall texture" and is probably stiff joint compound or maybe plaster, applied with a trowel stuck down flat and pulled off to make the pointy bits.

However you get it off, it's going to be messy. You can sand or scrape, just keep a shop-vac handy as you go and wear an appropriate mask. (You probably should have it tested for asbestos and lead, but I bet if you hired someone they wouldn't.) You'll probably end up having to resurface the wall, but I guarantee it's less painful to do on a sanded-down wall than trying to cover that stuff. You'll end up scraping bits of it loose into your fresh surface.

We have worked on several rooms with the opposite problem (wallpaper straight on the drywall, and it did not come off gently) and now have a lot of experience trying to make a crappy surface flat. I've been using a stickier, putty-er type of joint compound (DAP lightweight joint compound premix, rather than the powdered mix-it-yourself compound), which has worked out really well aside from giving me Popeye Arm since my left hand is too stupid to do any of the work.

Your other option is to sand down to a sane level and leave it, or cover that with orange peel or knockdown spray texture. You'll want to re-prime before trying to get paint on, no matter what route you take.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:30 AM on August 20, 2008

We had a wall like that, and our contractor knocked off the high points and plastered. I liked it so much I wanted to leave it unpainted, but with a coat of paint it still looks great. To me, a plastered wall just looks better than drywall -- even though the contractor made it as flat as he could, there's a homemade feel to the wall that makes the neighboring drywall look sterile. (If you choose to do this, find an older contractor, because doing a good job here is going to take an experienced hand.)
posted by Killick at 6:46 AM on August 20, 2008

If the house is old and has wood lathe/plaster walls, drywalling over the stucco could be problematic. Studfinders don't work to well on wood lathe and a magnet is the best way to locate the studs. Use regular 1/2" drywall (1/4" seems like a good idea but it will probably buckle and make mudding the seams a nightmare). If you need to screw into the lathe, drill a pilot hole for your screw to keep from splitting the wood.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:39 PM on August 20, 2008

« Older Good self-help audiobooks   |   Can I get a job in the States with an MA from an... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.