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Our 100 year old house has plaster walls, and I just noticed this “soft” spot by our front door (see photos). It isn’t bulging out - the spot leaves an indentation if you press hard, but no “squishy” sound or anything like that. I’m fairly certain this isn’t from moisture intrusion. While this is opposite an exterior wall, the exterior wall is covered by a porch that stays dry. There’s no visible signs of leaks or moisture intrusion above, below, or anywhere around the soft spot. No peeling, bubbling, or discolored paint anywhere to speak of.

I’m not handy, and I had trouble finding clear info online. Can old plaster do this without moisture being involved? Is this more of just an aesthetic concern if there’s no leak going on? I’m assuming old plaster can lose its grip closer to seams and doorways?

Thanks in advance!

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That's probably a latex (painter's) caulk repair from previous damage or decay. There may not have been a moisture problem, but just cracks and crumbling from age.

You have a couple options:

  • Ignore it. If there's no moisture there's no problem other than appearance.

  • Skim it again with more latex to flatten it further.

  • Dig it out and use modern plaster alternatives to fill it, taping corners as needed. Setting-type joint compound has worked well for me. There may be purpose-made products for just this.

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