Why Does My New York House Plaster Crack?
Is your New York house plaster cracking? This is actually a very common problem, especially in wood framed houses.
Before we get into the reason your house plaster is cracking, realize that home plaster walls and ceilings can be repaired, and simple repairs can be done by the New York homeowner.
Plaster is not a very elastic material, especially in wooden New York houses. There isn’t much “stretch” to plaster– it will break. Several forces can work against the integrity of plaster, leading to subtle movement in the house structure. This stress shows up as cracking or buckling in the wall or ceiling plaster.
In many wood-framed New York houses, the lumber used for construction is still a little wet. Even kiln dried lumber has moisture, so wood in your ceiling joists and wall studs shrinks over time, drying and moving. That movement can be amplified over the years by New York weather changes.
Sometimes the ceiling joists old houses really aren’t strong enough to support properly the full weight of wood lath and plaster. So they sag and this too leads to cracking. This is also true for houses with wood lath backing for plaster. Again, the lath nails can loosen, causing buckling and cracks.
Water intrusion and leaks from roofs or plumbing can wet and soften plaster. Cracks may show up as the plaster loses its strength.
One of the most popular home plaster systems since the late 40s in New York has been rock lath and plaster. Although this was an improvement over the older wood lath and plaster systems, it still had it’s own problems since the seams between the rock laths were not reinforced before the plaster was troweled on. It is common to see cracks and buckling in this kind of New York plaster construction.