UPDATE: Apologies for not following up until now. I ended up using a sheet metal style wall patch. I used tin snips to cut my 4” hole. Then I patched into the ceiling like a normal wall patch. Some mudding tape, couple coats of mud and some patient sanding later, it looks mint. Time will tell if any cracking occurs. Thanks for all the suggestions.

I’m installing 4” LED Halo recessed lights. It’s a plaster ceiling and the hole I cut quickly chipped away to much larger than the required 4” diameter. I don’t want to repair with a drywall patch because of the condition of the ceiling (I’m nervous the plaster will crumble out of control). Is there a way to patch this so that I can still retain the 4” hole for the light, but repair the edges of the hole so the diameter isn’t more than 4 inches?

  • 2
    This might need a photo to show the current state of things.
    – Criggie
    Jun 17 at 1:59
  • How old is the plaster? Anything older than the 90s could have asbestos in the plaster.
    – Criggie
    Jun 17 at 2:06
  • 1
    I would go beyond "might" and say that pictures of the actual situation (with a tape measure for reference) would be an absolute "must" for you to get anything beyond general recommendations.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 17 at 13:13
  • It is really easy from what I see, a simple skim coat will fix this, well if it is a minor chip, but since there is no photo, skim and repaint. (Just backing freeman’s comment). Without more info that is how I might fix it.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 17 at 14:15
  • Depends on where the light is located and if its near other lights - but if its isolated on its own (so that it wouldn't stand out), you could throw a goof ring on there (sellers on ebay make custom ones if the standard dimensions dont fit) that will act as trim and basically cover up any shoddy hole cutting.
    – user67081
    Jul 17 at 3:26

Plaster / mud is not particularly robust by itself. So a chipped out corner that has been reshaped with plaster is really not strong.

It could be that your best repair is to hack out a square foot of drywall and redo the whole hole. You would be able to pre-cut the light mouting hole before fitting this new plaster board to the ceiling.

Downside of this approach is that you have four feet of seams to tape and plaster, sand and paint. And you will need some battens above to which you can secure this plasterboard patch.

If the damage is really minor and doesn't affect how the light is supported, then a minimal plaster repair might be adequate.

  • 1
    Um well if the OP can’t patch some minor chipping how do you expect a much larger area to be “textured” to match the difference between drywall and the plaster? Or whatever it is since both were used in the description. A scratch coat over drywall was the standard in the mid 40’s and 50’s so skimming it after flaking would almost always be better than replacement, but without a photo we can’t tell.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 17 at 14:21

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