We're currently tearing out our main bathroom in this 1920s house we recently purchased. We've never done any big remodel like this but we're avid diyers. Here's a gallery https://i.stack.imgur.com/XMcer.jpg

The first image of rafters is in the walk up attic right above the bathroom. Since i can see the rafters I think my best bet for the cracking popcorn ceiling is to cover it with 3/8" drywall. Idk if it's asbestos or not but the plaster under it probably isn't great. The dark spot on the celing was from an old roof leak. No issues now.

The walls were beadboard over plywood. We tore most of that down and found the original plaster they covered. I wanted to leave the external facing wall with the exhaust as plywood and drywall over it but I'm realizing it's screwed into the tub. I just didn't want to deal with the old dirty insulation. What do you think? Is it OK to drywall over the plaster after we remove the rest of the plywood and tub/shower? Then install a new alcove. Any ideas are appreciated. I'd even entertain fixing the original plaster on the walls if it would be easier. I think then nailing plywall to it made it pretty far gone. I don't really want to tear it down to the studs because it's winter and the dust will be awful. We're not moving any pipes and I'm knowledgeable with electrical.

Thanks so much!

  • With a house that old the possibility of having asbestos and/or lead(paint/pipes) is higher. Two choices with asbestos and lead paint is covering it or removing it. Lead pipes is removing. Insulation is probably poor, so if in a colder climate might want to improve it. Regulations on removing asbestos/lead can be a pain, not usually DIY allowed.
    – crip659
    Jan 21, 2023 at 13:04
  • I'm taking a risk but I'm comfortable with that. The celing might be asbestos. The paint very likely lead. But I'm covering the celing with drywall... and might be covering the plaster with drywall. So It'll encapsulate it from what I read.
    – Tony Gump
    Jan 21, 2023 at 14:00
  • Lead paint or asbestos usually not too dangerous unless eaten or breath in, in decent amounts. Making dust(sanding it) with it is not good, but covering it over is a good plan.
    – crip659
    Jan 21, 2023 at 14:05
  • Thanks! I appreciate the info. We've got a p100 mask and are excited. Lol
    – Tony Gump
    Jan 21, 2023 at 14:36
  • I'd use 1/2" drywall on the ceiling. 3/8" is floppy, which means it's a curse to put up and more likely to follow humps and valleys. Jan 21, 2023 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


I renovated some old houses like yours. New drywall over the old plaster and over the popcorn ceiling is fine. Your plan is sound. I'd go with it with one addition. I would paint a coat of waterproofing like Redguard or Aquadefence over anything within 3 feet of a tub or shower, before any final finish.

  • Thanks a ton. Your assurance really helps. I've heard of redgaurd and will get some. The previous owners made everything flush for 1/2in plywood/ paneling so switching with drywall shouldn't be awful.
    – Tony Gump
    Jan 21, 2023 at 14:43

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