Dear PoP – Need a Roofing and Plaster Repair Recomendation

Photo by PoPville flickr user sciascia

“Dear PoP,

We were hoping you’d be willing to ask your readers if they can recommend a roofing service (or services to avoid!)- we need a whole new roof and plaster repair service. This is a big financial undertaking and any advice we can get is worth its weight in gold to us.”

I’d also be curious to hear from folks who’ve had plaster repaired/replaced? How much did it cost and how difficult was the process?

31 Comment

  • Kelbie Home Improvement:

    They’re fast, reasonably priced, and do good work. They also have a 12 month no interest financing option. Made having to put on a new roof a lot less painful.

    • Second the recommendation of Kelbie. I had a leak that caused water to damage the drywall interior ceiling of the sleeping porch. They traced the leak to the flashing around an attic window and fixed it. After talking with the consultant, I had them do a few more things for me. The consultant pointed out a problem with my rear gutters that was causing water to run down the side of the building and wash away the mortar. They gave me bigger gutters and repointed the mortar that had washed away. I also had them recoat the main roof and the roof of the sleeping porch.
      I found them to be honest and straightforward.

  • Somewhat similarly, does any one have any magical tips on how to repair ancient (90 year old) plaster by yourself?

    The plaster on the underside of our main staircase leading down the to basement is failing, and I’d love to have it fixed, but can’t justify a hefty price for a spot we so rarely use or see.

    • I’m plastering right now around my windows as I install new trim. We used to hire a guy who’s an artist in Baltimore to come out. He showed me how to do it, and it’s not the hardest thing. It’s a bit messy, but everything cleans up well.

      For the underside of stairs though, why not purchase 1/4″ drywall and then trowel over it with joint compound?

      However, If you just want to stick what’s falling back up, you can get small round disks and screw the plaster back onto the wall. Then you skim coat it with finishing plaster. If you have a structural or water problem, it’s not a permanent solution, but it might buy you some time.

      • anon. gardener

        hello! I am getting ready to do something similar around my stairs – fix plaster and install new trim. Any tips? Things to absolutely do or not do?

        • Sorry to leave you hanging.

          Remove anything that’s loose or broken, or reaffix it to the wall with the big round washers.

          Keep the wood lathe, but screw metal lathe over the top (next to the plaster at HD). Make sure it’s secure. Mist it with a sprayer.

          Mix up the “base coat” plaster to ‘peanut butter’ consistency and slather it on with a trowel. If you’re just filling cracks, jam it in the cracks very far. As it dries, it cracks. That’s normal and not a problem. If you’re joining old to new, consider using the mesh tape to make the joint. I didn’t do this because I didn’t have the clearance. Allow to set up. Don’t “smooth it”. You need it a little rough to accept the next layer I think.

          Leave yourself 1/4-3/8″ depth to the finish wall for the finishing plaster. Mix up your finishing plaster and trowel it on. Finishing plaster is the ‘other’ plaster available at HD. It has different working times. I got the one that gave me the most time. The amount of water and the way it goes on is very different than base coat. It’s much more elastic so it goes on smoother.

          I can’t guarantee that my approach will last 50 years, but it seems in line with the research I’ve done. If you’re just touching up areas, you can likely skip the base coat, and use finishing plaster and tape.

  • We had a good experience with L&M Contracting for what turned out to be a small repair to our roof. Second-place was a tie to Cole Roofing and Corley Roofing. Dead last went to Maggio, who tried to convince me that we needed a whole new roof plus rebuilding of our turret at a cost of at least $25k. I am pretty sure that he saw me (youngish, new homeowner female) as an easy sell and treated me kind of like I was stupid. They also refused to email or mail an estimate and insisted on coming out to go over the estimate in person. Sorry, but we don’t have that kind of time. I will never, ever deal with them again.

    Re plaster. Someone posted on here recently in response to one of my comments that it’s actually easy to DIY. We have more money than time these days, but I might give it a shot. Otherwise, I’ve also been told that almost anyone who does painting in DC also will do plaster. There were a few recent recommendations for painters and plster in a recent PoP thread:

    • +++1000 on Maggio Roofing. They are bunch of incompetant, dishonest thugs.

    • Maggio tried to do the same thing to me. They said I needed an entire new roof and at the cost of 20k. They also showed me pictures of what they claimed was my roof. It wasn’t even my roof. When I called them out on it, they said that it was a mistake. They were just trying to get over. Stay away from Maggio.

      • I laso would recommend staying away from Maggio…like dreas said…he came in, didnt really look at the problem or assess it…i have a leak somewhere in my porch roof and he just said replace the entire thing and sent me some animated roof that they claimed was what i needed…and on top of that they were rather pushy when i told them i would look into some other options…no thanks

  • Doing my own 2 coat plaster right now. It’s time consuming work. Why not drywall? You can always skip trowel over the drywall afterward to get a pattern effect.

    I think we paid $200-300 per full day for patch work. Usually it doesn’t take a full day for that though.

    You can get plaster at Home depot. See if you can find an online calculator for coverage and then estimate the square footage of your ceiling. That will give you a rough material cost.

  • I highly recommend D.L. Boyd ( for plaster repair. We’ve used them twice, and have found them very easy to work with and reasonably priced. (One repair was $200 for a large crack – but no hole in the plater and the other was around $500 for 2 cracks plus a good-sized hole in the plaster). They’ll give you a free estimate too.

    Our roofer is Rod Kahn with Caverucci Contracting (301-674-4479) and I also recommend him. Easy to work with and isn’t going to rip you off.

  • About plaster, the best approach is to repair it when possible, because plaster has its advantages, specially the noise insulation, if it’s just cracked not too much, you can use a special glue and fix it yourself, it it has crumbled, then you may need to remove it and put drywall,
    when changing for drywal, you don’t need to remove the pieces of wood. just do what you think is necessary. I went thru that process, and removed what was really bad, and repaired what was not in bad shape. a bit of work, but I’m happy. (check the ask this old house, they show how to do the repair and the glue’s name).

  • We have had both things done in the last year — they do go hand in hand, don’t they? We also had to get the house repointed, so at least you’ve managed to avoid that. Lucky for these old rowhouses that they’re so charming to make up for all the work they require.

    I can highly recommend Bartholow Drywall for plaster repair — we shopped around for estimates and they were quite affordable, and their work is stellar. They even patched up a small spot in our bathroom that wasn’t originally part of the job, just because the guy saw it when using the facilities. Check them out —

    After getting several quotes, we went with Roof Solution ( for a PVC membrane type roof, which was about double the cost of a bitumen roof but with more than double the life expectancy. Could have gotten the same thing from Maggio (mentioned above) for $5k more — they did the house next door and it looks great, their spokesperson was super thorough, but the cost was just way too much. Roof Solution did a great job and ON TIME. Couldn’t hope for more.

  • Be careful about using general contractors vs actual licensed roofers. Contractors are fine for certain repairs, but for others you really need a roofer that is *licensed*. If you ever sell, a home inspector can tell when shoddy work is done and recommend additional inspections/repairs that can cost you more in the long run. Be sure you keep all of your receipts.

  • For roofing I used Katchmark based in VA. As a bonus – the way they did their invoices made it very easy for my accountant to figure out my energy credit for last year.

  • Adams Roofing – 703-405-2011. I had a small leak and 2 other companies predicting imminent collapse – needing total re-roofing.

    Adams spent a good 15 min. examining and told me I only needed a little patching here and there, suggested I could do it myself, told me what to buy and how to do it!

    • +1 for Adams Roofing (Adam Falcone). He does great work at reasonable prices, and he’ll tell you things like “you’d be wasting your money on that” or “it’s easy to do yourself.”

    • Another +1 for Adams Roofing. He did a great job and was easy to work with, though we did have to wait a while for him to get to us in the queue. Still, no complaints. He was a full $1,000 less than the next closest estimate, so that coupled with the quality of his work, made the wait worth it.

  • We had a leak coming through an old hatch and I can’t remember the details of the fix but I have to say our dealings Metropolitan Roofing
    were very positive. They took video of what they found on our roof, gave a thorough explanation I could understand without talking down, offered more than one option for a fix at different price points, and–from what I could tell based on the other four or five estimates we got–saved us hundreds of dollars. No scare tactics, always prompt, professional and courteous, finished when they said they would and left no mess. It’s a small operation so you’re always talking to someone who knows the details of the job they’re doing for you.

  • We used Wagner Roofing for our condo building roof replacement. It was a big job for us, but not for them. They did a great job…and the project was done on time and on budget. They are completely above board (licenced, bonded, workers all speak english, etc). John Ray was the guy we dealt with. A little quirky and I had to keep him honest a couple of times, but the work quality was great.

  • Any recommendations for design/build for roof deck (including constructing access to the roof; currently fire escape ladders)?

  • Maggio did a great job on our flat roofs – they put up ib50. Corley replaced our 100 year old slate with architectural shingles. Both were fast and professional.

  • We just used Marvin from MG Roofing (240) 350-3638, and he was great. We needed to have our Spanish tile on the front part of the roof removed and the underlying wood repaired and sealed, then the Spanish tile put back (with about 20 of them replaced). He also replaced quite a bit of the flashing (the metal sheets the keeps water out of edges) and also resealed a number of cracks in our 5 year old main roof…all for $3500. He guaranteed the main roof “leak-free” for 5 years, and the front roof (with the Spanish tile) for 10 years. He was honest, great communicator…and really knows how to work with some of the older materials and building techniques you find on old DC row houses. I’d really recommend him!

  • If I can save one person some pain, it’s worth repeating this – DO NOT WORK WITH MAGGIO. It has been nothing but an expensive, arduous, uncessarily stressful 6-month project. And counting…..

  • Andrew Schulze
    Hybrid American Construction Co., Inc.
    240) 477-5478 Phone
    (240) 477-5498 fax
    (202) 391-8577 Cell

    I called him for a second opinion on a Maggio quote. He can in way lower and he was a dream to work with. I usually end up hating my contractors by the end of the job, but I’d still invite Andy over for a beer any time. He can give you good advice on more enviro friendly options too.

  • We’ve had some plaster repaired by professionals: Barrett Construction. We were happy with the results. You can see them on my blog:

    Also, we’ve done some plaster repair ourselves. See my blog post here:

    There’s a link to a This Old House video about repairing ceiling cracks. There are also other great videos on the about replacing a damaged section of plaster and other plaster-related things. A great source. Repairing plaster isn’t that hard, but it takes patience, time, and practice. Your first attempt might not be perfect, but you can always sand and start again.

  • For roofing call Kevin somers with Springfield roofing. They do a great job at a reasonable price. 703-930-7739.

  • L&M Contractors. They redid our crumbling slate mansards last year and did a great job.

  • I love doing plaster. If you know how to bake a cake (dry + wet for batter; dry + wet for frosting) you can plaster.

    For lathe, if I need metal lather, I use diamond mesh from Galliher & Huguely or ABC Distributors in Shirlington.

    For base coat I use USG Structo-lite Basecoat Plaster ( HD, G&H, ABC.

    For top coat I use autoclaved lime (several brands) and Red Top gauging plaster ( Get both at G&H or ABC, too.

    Mix and apply the basecoat leaving about 3/4″ room for the top coat. Scratch it/score it. While it sets mix the top coat. You have an hour or so to mix the top coat because you want the base coat damp when you apply the top coat. If the basecoat sits for a couple of days, just water mist thoroughly to get it damp again (just short of dripping wet).

    For the top coat, mix the lime with water to form a thick putty. Let sit overnight. Next day, add more lime to soak up any water standing on the top. Take a big (3 x 4 feet) plywood board with a smooth face. Plop the lime putty on the center of the board. Use plastering knives to spread the putty into a ring. Pour clean cold water into the center of the ring (don’t worry, the lime putty will hold it in). Then add gauging plaster to the water; just enough to absorb the water. Let it sit a minute, then mix the whole thing together. Apply.

    Get the hawk, trowel, and float tools and multiple size knives. They work best and you look cool too. When you’re doing the final smoothing (aka “polishing”) of the top coat, make sure to keep the float wet with occasional mists. That will keep the plaster from sticking and puckering as you work it, and keeps you from overworking it.

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