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Hey folks. I am looking for opinions on a tiled tub surround rebuild in a 1930s bath. The homeowners want to preserve as much of the original plaster walls (3 layer on wood lath) as possible, so I need to decide on the best method for joining new cement board substrate to the old plaster. I have cut out the plaster and lath up to the 5' mark, where the new tile will stop, for cement board installation. Can I tape the plaster/cement board together and mud with drywall compound, or Thinset? I expect the new tile will stop within a few inches of the joint, so i want to use as little material as possible to avoid creating an obvious hump at the top of the finished tile wall.

I also want to skim coat all the walls in the bath, as they have several layers of old, cracked and chipped paint, which would take weeks to sand and feather. Any suggestions on how to approach this? Should I use an oil based primer in between the old plaster walls and new coating material? Can I use a 90 min. setting compoundl ? I am handy and pretty good with the knife but I don't want to try Plaster of Paris or anything that can't be sanded or sets up too quick.
Thanks for any opinions. i really appreciate it
 

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We've done this before & have learned to bring the tile above the Durock. Hiding the Durock/plaster joint is much easier this way, as you don't have to match the texture of the walls to the Durock.

As far as repairing the existing plaster, we cover the existing surface with fiberglass wall repair fabric, then apply a couple of coats of compound over the fabric, sand, prime, & paint.
 

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greg is spot on here. the only problem i have with the self-adhesive fabric rolls is that it's a pain to get off the roll and doesn't self-adhere very well on the ceiling so it can be a paint to work with.
for skim coating, so long as the plaster is sound and clean then you can apply the fiberglass fabric and skim coat as usual. some will say to use the hot mud, but i've used lightweight topping/taping compound in this application many times and never had a problem. you'll be putting it on pretty thin so dry time usually isn't a problem, it's easier to sand, easier to work with and i feel is more sticky. mix it up, thin it just a bit with water or a latex additive like super-bond, and you're good to go. hawk and trowel goes fastest for me.
 
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