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Adding Baseboards to portland cement plaster

lemontreeski's picture

I own a 1948 construction home, built by the owners and almost nothing has been plumb or on center at measurable intervals.  The walls are portland cement plaster.  I am ready to add baseboards and need advice on how to secure them to the wall.  In some areas I can see a 1x2 at the floor/wall base.

Another challenge is finding studs to ensure nail hits.  Any advice?


Lemon (post #201261, reply #1 of 2)

The 1x2 might be a plaster ground-used to give an even trowel line for the plasterer.  There's one spot to nail.

Finding the studs, this 1x2 might have nails in it that show-there's a good chance it's nailed to a stud.

Look to electric outlets-your time line is close to when they used nail on boxes for the outlets.  These would have a stud close to either side of the outlet.  Some nailing ears on those old boxes where 3" or so long.  Your stud might be over a bit.  A thin stiff probe wire might be inserted between the box and plaster to locate the side the stud is on.  DON"T electrocute yourself doing this.

Tapping on the wall with knuckles of the handle end of a screw driver is another way.  Listen for the hollow vs. solid sound it makes. 

Rare earth magnets sometimes are strong enough to "find" the nails that were used to nail the plaster board backing to the studs.  Sweep them along the wall and feel the resistance of them wanting to stick to the nail.

Framing in the 40's was less rampant than pre 1930's, I'd think you'd pick up a pattern in the layout of the studs.

Joist location will sometimes help when the houses were balloon framed.  The studs would be to one side or the other of the joist.

Since your using basebd, you can always get an 8 finish nail, cut the "head" off and chuck that up in a drill.  It's will drill through the plaster (and not waste a drill bit) easily and you can play hunt and peck in the area the base will cover.


As far as securing to the walls?  If necessary, PL Premium adhesive will stick to anything (plops the size of a small golfball, not zigzagged).  Add to that strategic nails (I'd use a finish nail gun) long enough to hold - usually 2-1/2 inch for 3/4" and thinner base.

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Baseboard reponse - Calvin (post #201261, reply #2 of 2)


Thank you. You response was very informative.  I will be going gangbusters on this project in a few weeks. 

Will let you know how it went.