I've fixed leaks above my plaster-and-lath-and-chicken-wire ceiling, and now I need to fix the ceiling below it.

The ceiling is a sandwich of wood lath on top, then 1/4" of solid plaster, then chicken wire, then more plaster. The latter plaster layer is peeling off in sheets because it's not a solid layer like the upper one, but instead it's layered with several coats. The lath is in good shape and not rotted.

I'm not sure I'm ready for the amount of work required to replace the entire ceiling with drywall (or to cover the ceiling with drywall). Ideally I could just patch the bad area of the ceiling, which is about 3 feet square.

What's the recommended way to do such a large patch to a plaster ceiling? Should I leave the chicken wire and put 1/4" drywall on top of it? Or remove all plaster? Any other suggestions?

1 Answer 1


The fact that sections are peeling off indicates that there is a structural problem with the overall "sandwich."

In any repair, unless you can overcome the structural deficiencies with an overriding mechanism, you have to strip back the unsound sections until you get to good structure. With you description , it is hard to see where that is.

You could knock loose all the compromised sections and then try to patch the open areas, but it sounds like the overall lathe-plaster-chicken wire-plaster amalgam may be questionable. You may do this and shortly thereafter find a new section that is failing.

I think that a drywall overlay may be the simplist, fastest and cheapest solution, by far. Whether you strip down to the chicken wire or to the lathe depends on how much of the ceiling is loose/compromised. If height is not a problem, dislodge whatever is loose, use shim to insure level and then screw up thin drywall over the whole ceiling. DO NOT USE NAILS! If you hit studs, great, but the lathe should be adequate to hold a thin wallboard lamination.

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