Metal lath and plaster

Deconstruction is fun! I love peeling back the various layers, knocking the plaster off the walls, prying off the old wooden lath all the way down to the original brick walls and limestone footing walls.

Now it’s time for the ceiling. Thank God I am tall (6’-7”). I always liked being tall, but it was a real blessing when I got to the ceiling. My height made the overhead work a lot easier.

That said, something else completely spoiled the fun. I discovered that the entire ceiling had metal lath in the plaster. A couple of months back I was showing the building to my friend Ted Krasnesky  (Manager of Sustainable Construction at Pepper Construction; I worked with him on a couple of sustainable projects and very much respect his green building expertise). I distinctly remember his reaction when he spotted the metal lath but I didn’t know how to read it at the time, nor did I follow up with questions.

Well, I now know what must have been on his mind. If you’ve ever removed plaster with metal lath, you probably know what pain in the behind it is. It took me about 2 hours to remove around 10 square feet. There must be a better way of doing this! Cathy did a quick online search for me and mainly found references that talked about how to put drywall over plaster with metal lath – again – that sweeping under the carpet thing…


I finally figured how to find the seams of the metal lath and chiseled my way along those seams, which allowed me to take out whole sections (almost like drywall sheets). I had a very slow start, but got much faster and more effective as time went by. I only hope this was the only room in the basement that had metal lath in the ceiling plaster!


About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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