How to Fix Those Cracking, Crumbling Plaster Walls

Q: Our Gramercy co-op was built in 1929. The thick plaster walls have so many benefits, but no sooner do we paint a room than new cracks appear. The ceiling plaster is another problem. It wants to come down in big, thick pieces. I asked our super if we could put sheet rock on the ceiling and start fresh, but he said there would be no good way to affix it. What can I do to prevent or repair cracking in the walls? Or can I cover them with wallpaper? And how do I repair the ceiling?

A: Old lath and plaster walls are prone to cracking. Over time the plaster separates from the lath, creating structural cracks. Plaster is also prone to thinner spider-web cracks, which occur when the topcoat of the plaster degrades.

It’s common to have both kinds of cracking — and both types can be repaired.

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