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Our house was built in 1941, so all original walls are plaster (I'm assuming lath and plaster?). This is true for the bathroom in question. The walls in this bathroom are plaster, and are painted with latex paint. Where the shower curtain rod is in contact with the wall, the plaster has begun to break away, most likely due to continued exposure to moisture. I noticed this when I went to swap out the rod for a new one, and began to peel some of the bubbling paint away. See the picture for detailed shots.

My question is what I should use to repair this damage. I've read that normal spackling can be used to repair minor plaster damage, but is that best to use in a moist bathroom setting? Or do I need to go the route of dry mix plaster that I smooth over?

And as a side question, if there are any suggestions for what I could do to not have the shower rod in direct contact with the wall, that would also be appreciated. Thanks.

Shower1 Shower2 Shower3 Shower4

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You need to remove all plaster that is moisture damaged. By the time that is done, it is well beyond a spackle patch job, it requires re-plastering. Dry mix would work of course, though I would expect that pre-mixed patching plaster would be available in most areas. Damage is because water got past the paint film. Any installation that prevents water ingress should be fine as long as the paint is maintained. –  bcworkz Apr 9 '14 at 17:39
    
Personally I would remodel. Replace the plaster with greenboard or another water-safe wall. Uncover the electrical in the process and bring it up to modern code. Inspect the 70+ year old plumbing and make fixes/improvements where necessary. But that might be overkill for your situation. –  Snowman Aug 8 '14 at 5:08
    
You could repair that damage by using standard joint compound (not the lightweight variety or spackle). Do your best to remove the damaged plaster. If you can, avoid using the shower for a few days to let it dry out more. You can also use a hair dryer or heat gun on low to speed up the process. Then put on thin coats of compound and let it dry thoroughly between coats. Once that is done apply a good coat of primer that is rated for interior and exterior use and then add the top coat. You may want to add paintable latex caulk before the final coat where the tile meets the wall. –  Jason Hutchinson Nov 6 '14 at 23:24
    
Thanks Jason, it turns out I followed nearly that exact process, and the repair turned out great. Only difference was that I didn't apply several layers of joint compound -- only did a single layer. Thanks for the advice! –  Mega Matt Nov 7 '14 at 3:01

2 Answers 2

after replastering the damaged wall, you can use water-proof paint to protect the plaster. The items and materials used in bathroom and kitchen should be anti-moisture.

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bcworkz and Snowman are right, but I would like to add some details. This is without doubt moisture damaged, and everything that has moisture or water damage must be removed and changed. Also, water and sewerage pipes in this bathroom are questionable, at best, so I strongly recommend that you check them. But, I’m not sure that is the end of your problems: you should apply some hydro insulation both on the floor and on the walls, because even if you floor is ok now materials applied are mineral based insulation meaning that gradually they disintegrate, and since you should apply insolation on the walls it is a good thing to make a "bathtub". I'm afraid that ceramic tiles are hiding an even bigger issue, that’s why I suggest all of this. When it comes to greenboard, I disagree because if you put those, then ceramic tiles wouldn't be "in front" of the rest of the wall, but in the same plane, or even worse "behind" the tiles which is really bad. I would suggest that after you remove plaster you apply layer of mortar, than some insulation, and then you paint it over. Of course this is cheaper, fix the burning issue solution. Complete solution is elaborated earlier. When it comes to shower rod, you can paint just that part of the wall, or that one wall with acrylic based paint, like the one they use for façade.

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