Removed the shiplap panels from our basement walls and found glue covered plaster walls - Can we just throw some 1/4" drywall on top of the walls or do we need to do prep work?


So yeah, we removed some wall panels from our walls to find plaster walls in decent shape. Right now we are deliberating between trying to clean the glue off the walls and repairing plaster issues or just installing 1/4" drywall.

These plaster walls BTW, do not seem to be plaster and lathe. It looks like they are plaster overtop of drywall (I opened the walls up elsewhere in the room for another project)

I am leaning towards installing drywall but we don't know what prep work, if any, we need to do. Do we need to scrape off the glue? Would we need to fix the bulging? Or could we just throw drywall overtop of whatever is up there?

One problem I see is that we cannot find the studs behind the walls, the plaster blocks any stud sensors or magnetic nail locators. I did open up one of the walls for another project and found that there weren't studs, only horizontal pressure treated furring strips attached to the brick house exterior, they seem to be spaced 16" apart. There are also a ton of nail holes in the wall, approximately 16" apart, so i feel like those could be the "studs"

So Im wondering if the plaster itself would provide the holding strength for the 1/4" drywall using 1" screws?

  • 1
    I'd be considering more glue instead of using screws.
    – brhans
    Sep 10, 2023 at 13:44
  • 1
    It may not be a direction you planned to go but have you thought about pulling the rock lath and plaster off down to bare framing, upgrade the electrics and insulate? When done methodically the walls can come off in sheets approx 16 inches by 4 ft, at the largest. It will still be dusty. Otherwise the framing it there, it can be found by using a 3" nail probe driven in often enough to find wood, and verify the spacing.
    – Jack
    Sep 10, 2023 at 17:46
  • @Jack aside from the amount of mess and debris to dispose of, I do like that idea.
    – Huesmann
    Sep 11, 2023 at 12:15
  • @Huesmann Rock lath and plaster is a lot simpler to deal with, compared to wood lath and plaster, which is a big dusty mess, from start to finish. At the most, rock lath will have expanded metal lath in the corners to eliminate cracking. A reciprocating saw in all the corners first allow the rock lath to be removed in big chunks, sometimes, too big of chunks, really heavy stuff. This way keeps the really crumbly mess to a minimum.
    – Jack
    Sep 12, 2023 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


No, the plaster will not provide enough meat for the screws to bite into.

But the real issue is this: if the walls are perfectly flat, plumb, and square, all you need to do is to apply a quick skim coat, do light sanding the next day, and you'll be ready to prime and paint.

If the walls have crumbling plaster, are not flat (you mention bulging), etc., the 1/4" drywall will telegraph all of these defects, which defeats the whole purpose of adding the layer of drywall in the first place.

So there is no straight answer, because it all depends on how good or bad the current walls are. The better they are, the more it makes sense just to add a skim coat. The worse they are, the more sense it makes to remove the walls, add new furring strips, and install 1/2" drywall. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes are some cases in which you could probably save time and labor by adding 1/4" drywall, but as you go through the project, you might find that those cases are exceedingly rare.

  • So adding a skim coat... I would still need to prep the walls right? Like scrape off those big sections of glue and maybe sand them down a bit? And the bulging, I guess I should remove those sections of plaster and replace with drywall (I'm getting kinda good at that)
    – rugbert
    Sep 10, 2023 at 17:59

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