Why is the plaster peeling off my walls?

When we first looked at this project it was because the customer had the above question. The thin layer of plaster on the shiplap wall was starting to fall off. Nothing was immediately obvious (apart from some windows that had been replaced about 4 yrs ago – or is that obvious?) –  so we had to investigate. There was nothing else for it but to get stuck into that wall…..and thus ensues a Mike Holmes-esque situation.

There were three main contributing factors to the plaster peeling. We found the 4 yr old windows had been installed improperly. What was missing was the caulking – a slight oversight (and that’s sarcasm). In years gone by there had been stucco repairs and we also found evidence that there had also been a porch in this area that had been walled in. The stucco repairs had cracked allowing water ingress. These two factors were exacerbated by the fact that the wall and windows were east facing taking the full brunt of the winter weather. Finally factor number 3. We are still bemused by this. Under one window (the closest to the corner of the house) was a piece of plastic attached to the studs. This made sure that water coming in was trapped and worked full time on the framing and also that area sweated.

The pics below show the extent of the rot which took about 4 yrs. The double bottom plate (2 – 2×4’s) were completely rotten through, and as we know water only goes one way – down – to the basement suite.

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