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Tips For Removing Plaster and Lath

2020-10-25T03:13:54

For many homeowners who live in older houses or condos, removing plaster and the lath that supports it is a rite of passage in renovating. The reason it may be necessary to remove existing plaster is due to how it sags and cracks as it ages. This can lead to partial fall downs and collapsed ceilings over time. Fortunately, with a bit of effort and planning, you can safely remove old material quickly with a few simple tools and a dumpster.

Check if Your Plaster Has Asbestos

This may seem a surprising ingredient in plaster, but, from the early twenties until the late seventies, some companies added asbestos and other fibers to create a stronger compound that resisted cracking. If you live in a home built in this period, you can easily send a sample for testing to find out. If it turns out there is asbestos in your plaster, you can check with a local inspector about what demolition regulations you need to follow.

Plan Ahead for the Debris

Removing plaster involves more than just dust and crumbles of old compounds. The wooden infrastructure it gets pasted onto is called lath. You will likely have to remove both plaster and lath when taking down an old wall or ceiling, which also means nails and possibly old wiring. Contractor bags and your trash cans won’t cut it. Companies like Bin There Dump That offer smaller residential friendly dumpster rentals that can easily hold all the waste you generate without taking up a lot of space in your driveway.

Shut Off Any Power to the Wall or Ceiling

Besides nails and lath holding up the plaster, old walls can hold several surprises, including wiring that has rotted insulation and another electrical routing that may not have a junction box. Make sure you turn off all known circuits inside the wall before attempting to remove plaster and lath.

Control Your Exposure to Dust

Dust from plaster and lath is dense and filthy. Protect your eyes, nose, and lungs from heavy irritation by wearing a dust mask. You can minimize the spread by outlining doorways to other areas of the house with plastic tarping. In addition to these steps, also make sure you avoid your central air or furnace from circulating the dust by leaving them shut off until you have cleaned up.

Cut the Plaster and Lath into Manageable Pieces

One tricky issue with tearing down plaster is trying to control it while you take it apart so that it doesn’t potentially send cracks and breaks into adjoining walls and ceilings. This is why cutting it into manageable pieces is your best approach. Using a grinder will make this process go quickly, though it will create significant amounts of dust. Only cut the wooden lath after you have separated a section of plaster.

Don’t Mix Plaster and Lath

When you remove plaster and lath at the same time, you do risk making disposal take significantly longer. You can’t easily sweep or shovel up the debris because lath is rigid and awkward to fit in a dustpan. This is why some experts recommend removing them separate from each other and creating two piles instead. Or, remove all the plaster first, clean it up, and then tackle the lath.

Protect Your Floors

Besides the significant amount of dust generated, lath nails also pose a significant risk. Not only are they super sharp and easily penetrate shoes, but they can cause severe gouges in your floors. Lay down plywood or wallboard where you work to avoid some of this risk.

Book Your Dumpster Rental Before You Begin Your Work

Don’t start your project without a waste management plan ready to go. Having a small capacity dumpster on hand will help streamline your plaster removal project and make disposal one less thing to worry about.

Bin There Dump That provides full-service dumpster rental services, and we get it delivered to doorstep fast. Often, we can get one of our handy bins to you on the same day or within 24 hours! All of our dumpsters have double doors so that you won’t struggle when lifting heavy amounts of plaster and lath into your bin. We also protect your driveway and perform a post haul out sweep up to make sure there isn’t any debris left in your drive.


Call our Northern Atlanta area office at (770) 932-2838 or contact us online for more information. Don’t forget to check out our blog for additional tips and tricks to maximize the benefits of your dumpster rental experience!


Remember to use Bin There Dump That for all your dumpster needs.