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I have an interior plaster over wood-lathe wall that I'd like to cover using thin brick veneer. The plaster wall is generally in good shape (though some patching will need to be done for some substantial holes), and seems sturdy. I've seen numerous resources that say it is fine to directly adhere thin brick over drywall, for example:

How should I apply brick to an interior wall?

Would there be any problem using the same method to apply brick veneer over plaster? And alternatively, if one would not directly apply the brick to the plaster, is there any solution short of ripping out all the lathe and plaster down to the studs (such as attaching some other stablizing backing on top of the plaster). Thanks!

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The keys are the "key". When real plaster is applied over wood lath, the base coat oozes through the gaps in the lath and sags or expands a bit forming "keys" that, when dry, hold the plaster layer to the lath.

This is a strong structure unless a substantial amount of the keys have been broken (from temperature or humidity swings, structural shifting, physical damage). When this happens in a specific area, that section of plaster is basically unsupported and is prone to cracking and buckling inward.

If the plaster is generally sound, you should have no problem. While drywall is more flexible and less prone to pulling away from the framing, sound plaster should be strong enough to hold the weight of a thin veneer.

If, however, significant sections of the plaster are bulging outward, or if there is a large amount of the surface coat pulling away from the base coat (a sign that the plaster is in poor condition overall), this is not a good basis for a top coat beyond paint or paper. In that case, you may need a more significant redo.

If the weak areas are just a few and not too large, there are specialized plaster washers that are used to screw the weakened section to the lath to prevent further damage. That may be sufficient if the areas are few and far between.

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Check the manufacturer's installation instructions of the veneer product you've chosen to install. That's the only way to know for sure, how that specific product can be installed.

Some products can be installed directly to walls, others require underlying support. It depends entirely on the product, and the installation location.

  • Thanks for replying, but that doesn't seem right. They're all just brick (of course, I realize that there are variations in the type of material that goes into a brick, but they are substantially similar). They are all about the same weight and thickness (between 1/2 to 3/8 inch), and so the question (it seems to me) is really about whether a plaster wall could support that weight. (In any case, the instructions don't say.) But perhaps I missing something. If so, how would the composition of the brick affect this? Thanks again. – Christopher DeCoro Sep 1 '15 at 20:57
  • Some products require you to install metal mesh, followed by a scratch coat before installing the brick. Some Say to install backer or cement board, and install the brick on that. Some products use a metal track system, that must be secured to the wall. Some will allow any/all of the above methods. In most cases, a substrate that is attached to the framing is required (be it mesh, cement board, etc.). – Tester101 Sep 1 '15 at 21:21

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