Remedies: Internal walls and ceilings

Common problems include walls that are out of square, cracked plaster, draughts, and jammed windows and doors.

Walls that are out of plumb or corners are not square

The construction of villas may not be particularly square or plumb, which makes incorporating of new work a little more difficult. The judgement call to be made in each case revolves around:

  • how far out of square/plumb it is
  • whether it will be noticeable or compromise the finished work
  • whether it can be accommodated in the new or repair work
  • what can be done and what it will cost to make good.

In most situations, it may not be particularly noticeable in the finished work or the finished work will mask it. Where repair is deemed necessary:

  • walls may be able to be firred to make them plumb
  • the wall position may be able to be adjusted (with a sledge hammer) to make it squarer
  • the construction may have to be rebuilt. 

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Cracked plastered ceilings 

While not common, villas may have original ceilings of fibrous plaster with ornate fibrous plaster cornices (or they may have been added later). Generally damage is as a result of building movement, and provided they remain solidly fixed to the framing, repair is possible. Repair options available for fibrous plaster include:

  • for a single crack with the plaster remaining well adhered to the framing, flush off the crack with gypsum stopping compound
  • small areas of damage to plaster ceiling roses and cornices may be repaired by a skilled plasterer 
  • small areas of sagging may be propped back into place and the sheets refixed. Where damage is significant (such as a number of cracks and/or the ceiling is sagging), total replacement is likely to be the best option. 

Lath and plaster wall and ceiling finishes generally need replacement unless the area of damage is relatively small (and can be plastered with stopping compound) and the remainder of the plaster is solidly attached to the totara lath. Large scale repairs are not generally economic, and old material should be removed.

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Villas can be draughty, letting in cold outside air and readily losing heat from the interior. Air passes through weatherboards and match lining through chimneys, around window sashes and doors, through tongue and groove boarded floors and through ceiling roses. Draughtiness can be reduced by:

  • hard lining
  • foam stripping doors and windows
  • installing carpet over foam underlay
  • removing or blocking open fireplaces or installing closed fire box inserts.

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Jammed windows and doors 

The first step during the building survey is to determine the cause of the jamming. Is it building settlement, rotten sashes, broken sash cords or paint build-up?

Options to remedy the problem include:

  • for settlement, relevelling the building may remedy the problem, otherwise windows or doors will need to be removed and planed to provide sufficient clearance
  • for rotted window sashes, it is likely that the sash will need to be removed and repaired with new sections or a matching sash made – unless minor, rot in window frames usually means replacement
  • for paint-clogged windows, specify releasing the sashes by running a knife or blade between the sash and the beads to remove the paint and free the window
  • for broken sash cords, specify replacement.

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Incorporating insulation 

See insulation.

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Incorporating hard lining

One of the difficulties with villa renovation is incorporating hard lining such as plasterboard without having to remove interior skirtings and architraves. See plasterboard lining for more.