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Old 06-30-2010, 10:12 AM   #1
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Sagging ceiling


I am in something of a bind regarding what to do with the ceilings in our kitchen, and would appreciate some feedback on the subject.

Iím rehabbing our home from top to bottom, and have come across a problem which Iím not sure what to do with. I have always been able to tell that the ceilings have a sag between where the drywall has been nailed to the trusses, but as it was only really noticeable in acutely angled light I didnít really give it much thought until I came to the kitchen area. The problem is that we want to install full height kitchen cabinets, and if we do so itís going to cause a problem for the cabinets going across the sagging sections as the rippling effect will be noticeable against the cabinet tops butting up to the ceiling. By virtue of necessity, the cabinet tops will have to be aligned with the peaks in the sagging ceiling, meaning that the valleys will be noticeable. I could use thin molding to contour it with the ceiling, but the overall effect would be that the molding would look like itís going up and down along the cabinet tops. To give you an idea of how pronounced the sag is, if I put a level up against the ceiling I can squeeze a finger easily into the gaps in some sections.

So what do I do? I really donít want to strip out all the ceilings, as it would be an expensive nightmare of a job, particularly with all the dusty loose insulation up there that would have to be replaced Ė and we just donít have the room financially in our rehab budget to have someone else do it for us. A more cost effective and less time-consuming alternative might be to put up a second ceiling over the existing one, which would probably lower the ceiling height by about two inches and hopefully not adversely affect the appearance or functionality of the 42Ē wall cabinets by having them two inches lower (the ceiling height in the room at present is the standard 8í). Never having done it before I assume the way to accomplish such a task would be to screw in some battens along the ceiling in line with the trusses (perhaps utilizing the same strips used in attaching drywall to brick walls?) so that I can screw the new ceiling in place in such a way that thereís enough of a gap that the sagging sections of the old ceiling donít push against it. The major obstacle to all of this though is that we're looking to install a full height (96") wall oven cabinet which would run into problems (literally!) if we lowered the ceiling by even an inch. I know I could probably trim off little bit of the cabinet either at the top or the bottom to squeeze it in, but I don't think I could manage two inches without perhaps compromising the appearance of the cabinet?


If the ceilings had been higher I would have considered putting in a soffit above the wall cabinets to counter the rippling effects of the sagging ceiling, but there just isnít the space to do it. I had thought that I could put a shallow one of about 2Ē that would have the equivalent effect on the cabinets height-wise of the second ceiling idea, but a 2Ē soffit might look stupid Ė I donít know. Theyíre usually about 10Ē Ė 12Ē and designed for use with standard 30Ē wall cabinets.

As for the other living areas, Iíve though that the most expedient method of dealing with the issue was to put up some small wood beams in line with the trusses, which would of course mask the sagging effect. The bedrooms, for some odd reason, donít really seem to be affected much at all.

Any thoughts or suggestions on the matter would be gratefully received. This is a pain in the butt aspect to the rehab I hadn't counted on dealing with, and it's not one I'm experienced in at all.

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Old 06-30-2010, 11:12 AM   #2
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Sagging ceiling


Have you considered adding another layer of stiffer drywall?

ie: 5/8" Ceiling board

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Old 06-30-2010, 11:21 PM   #3
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Sagging ceiling


Is it just the drywall that sags or is it the underlying joists as well? It could be a more serious problem. If it is just the ceiling drywall, I would consider it worth while to replace it.
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:47 PM   #4
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Sagging ceiling


Hi Jim,
No, it's just sagging drywall. I live in central Florida, and have been told that age and the high humidity and heat have their effect on most older ceilings here.

You're right of course, probably the best solution would be to take out the ceiling and replace it, but I just don't want to deal with the headache of having to get back up in the roof later (it's high summer here don't forget) and clamber all over the AC duct trying to replace the wool insulation - that's not even taking into account the dust and heat of taking out the old ceiling and insulation, having to turn off or block the AC to prevent all the dust and particles from spreading round the house and over my wife and kids, etc, etc.

I think I may have found a way round it, which is to put up a kind of wood grill panel that will hang a few inches from the ceiling, cover most of the ceiling area to within a couple of feet of the wall cabinets, and mask the sagging ceiling in such a way that no one would notice it unless they took a REALLY close look at it. No one probably would notice it anyway, but you know what it's like when it's your own place, you're acutely aware of every flaw!

I took a closer look at the ceiling with the 5' builder's level I have, and the sag isn't as pronounced closer to the walls as it is towards the center of the room, so I don't think the ripple effect will be as noticeable across the top of the wall cabinets as I initially thought. I looked around on the net to see if there were any examples of my idea, and came across a guy by name of Alvar Aalto who makes a specialty of these kind of wood grill ceilings.

If I go ahead with the idea I'll post some pics.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:30 AM   #5
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Sagging ceiling


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Originally Posted by jlhaslip View Post
Have you considered adding another layer of stiffer drywall?

ie: 5/8" Ceiling board
I agree. 5/8 screwed to the trusses would straighten the old drywall right up, & he would only lose 5/8 of an inch of his ceiling height

(put lots of screws in)
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:22 AM   #6
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Sagging ceiling


I actually consulted a local contractor about it, as it seemed the obvious way to go, and he said that one of two things would happen - 1) That the pressure of pushing up and trying to straighten the hardened curvature caused by years of heat and humidity would crack the old ceiling and possibly leave dead weight bearing down on the newer drywall that would hasten the eventual sagging process that comes with living in a home in central Florida and 2) that even if the old ceiling doesn't crack, the tension left by pushing up against the old ceiling would eventually have its effect on the newer ceiling and cause it to weaken and sag between the trusses just as the old one does. I'd then be left with two layers of sagging ceiling to deal with, in a few years, rather than one. That's why I considered the option of putting battens across the ceiling, in line with the trusses, in order to lay the new 5/8" ceiling far enough away from the old ceiling that it wouldn't have to touch it and thus deal with the sagging.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:34 PM   #7
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Sagging ceiling


Well, you are talking about rehabbing your house from top to bottom. If you start by trying to cover up old problems you are just putting your headaches off for another day (or onto the next homeowner). The first step is to demo out the sagging ceiling, and maybe the soggy wool insulation. Not to mention that Fla. high heat and humidity reaks havoc on a roofing system. Maybe best to put off till fall if too hot now.
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Old 07-02-2010, 04:42 AM   #8
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Sagging ceiling


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Originally Posted by Jim F View Post
Well, you are talking about rehabbing your house from top to bottom. If you start by trying to cover up old problems you are just putting your headaches off for another day (or onto the next homeowner). The first step is to demo out the sagging ceiling, and maybe the soggy wool insulation. Not to mention that Fla. high heat and humidity reaks havoc on a roofing system. Maybe best to put off till fall if too hot now.

I would agree. Also, you have a local contractor right there looking at it and telling you what needs done. Bite the bullet and do it right.
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:15 PM   #9
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Sagging ceiling


The contractor specified what would happen if I tried using the method suggested by a couple of others regarding screwing a new layer of drywall directly up against the old ceiling. He didn't suggest that spacing another ceiling with battens would be an issue.

Obviously the point was missed. The obvious route to go would be to simply tear out the existing ceiling and replace it with a new one. Financial and time constraints make that impossible (I'm working within a HUD-based rehab fund that I'm trying to stretch as far as possible with an arsehole bank - BOA - breathing down our necks wanting everything finished yesterday) until a later time when I might be able to deal with it more effectively. The heat is another factor - I can't wait until winter to do the job - I have kitchen cabinets arriving in a couple of weeks and a family that's done without a kitchen for a few months.

As far as doing it right on passing problems on to the next owner, guy, you have no idea what you're talking about or our situation, so spare me the preaching. This house is a disaster as far as garbage work done on it by previous owners, and half the reason my time and money is beeing eaten up is through rectifying all the appalling workmanship throughout the house. Want an example? Some genius decided at some point that he wanted to add a fireplace, so he appropriated half the closet space from a neighboring bedroom for the box and piping, covered it over with a loose arrangement of plywood that he didn't even bother applying any kind of finish to, left leaks all through the roof and ceiling, and couldn't even be bothered to move a couple of outlets that were slightly in the way of the bricking process for the facade- he left them half bricked over, with one of the double outlets showing, the other concealed behind the bricks! The whole house is like that, and half my time is spent pulling out and rectifying the garbage workmanship before I can even start on the process of sprucing things up.

As a point of fact, because the double ceiling idea has the potential to cause some issues with a full height cabinet that's being put in, I've decided to clean up the ceiling, spray it with knockdown, and hang a lattice wood framework across the ceiling that will cover it to within a few feet of each wall, thus masking the sag - which is only really noticeable because I'm looking at it all the time. I'll stain it the same color as the cabinets, and with a skylight shining through the middle of it the arrangement should look nice. Down the track, if need be, I can remove the frame and replace the ceiling.

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Last edited by timbo59; 07-02-2010 at 01:18 PM.
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