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Old 07-22-2008, 06:13 PM   #1
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


I purchased a home that is about 100 yrs old- the living room, dining room, and kitchen all have paneling & drop ceilings-

What would be the best way to approach removing the drop ceiling, putting up a normal ceiling, and getting normal walls? I don't care if it's plaster that's already there that can be fixed, or if it's drywall that needs to be put up... I just need to get rid of the paneling! I'm almost positive that there is plaster behind the paneling in the living room and dining room- looks like strips of wood attached to the plaster, to which the paneling is nailed. I guess there's no way to tell the condition of the walls beneath it without completely removing the paneling, correct? Is there a point at which plaster is just irreparable and should be ripped out? Or is it something that can be fixed easily?

Is fixing plaster something that can be done by someone w/o experience? (i.e. me!) And how much do people usually charge for plaster repair if I rip out the paneling and find myself in way over my head? What would be the cheaper route, if I take down the plaster myself and hire someone to put up all new drywall, or if I hire someone to repair the existing plaster?

Also, will it be a noticeable difference if there is drywall on the ceiling and paneling on the walls? Because right now there are just beams above the drop ceiling, so something new would have to be put in there- any suggestions??

Please help- I need ideas and advice!

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Old 07-23-2008, 10:48 AM   #2
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


The paneling was probably installed over failing plaster. If it wasn't failing, removing the paneling will finish it off. Realistically you should plan on removing the paneling, plaster and lath down to the studs. Once down to the studs, update the electrical, plumbing and insulation and then install new drywall.

As to the dropped tile ceiling, remove a few tiles and see if they ran any mechanical systems between the joists and the tile. All of these will need to be rerouted or boxed in.

This is one of those projects that once you start, it will keep on growing.

Not to sound negative, but it will be a lot of time, hard work and money to do it right. Good luck.

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Old 07-23-2008, 12:08 PM   #3
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


From what I've read, there's usually either metal or wood behind plaster on the walls, correct? That's what it would be attached to, if I undertsand correctly.... If the house was built around 1900, what was most likely used, wood?

What I'm thinking is if there is wood lath behind the plaster, maybe I should leave that and put up 1/2" drywall over that- once the plaster is removed, I'm guessing it wouldn't make much of a difference as far as the thickness of the wall, correct? And that might help me avoid issues with the beams being too far apart to hang the new drywall?
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:26 PM   #4
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


Probably wood lath, though it could be metal. Only one way to find out. Lath probably won't be worth saving once you beat the plaster off of it. You can hang 1/4" drywall over the plaster (what I like to call "industrial strength wallpaper"). Butt it to the existing trim and flat tape if the trim is wide enough, or pull the trim down, hang and re-trim. You'll have to extend your jambs. If your ceiling joists are 16" centers, use regular 1/2" drywall. 24" centers, 5/8" would be better. Not to burst your bubble, but it is quite an involved process. You would need to be a pretty experienced DIY'er to tackle the whole thing. I'd at the least get a couple of quotes to do the drywall work. Do your own demo and trim, perhaps (if you're capable). I would not even venture a guess as to price as it varies so much in different parts of the country and even from one contractor to the next. And as 47 47 said, this will most likely grow as you proceed. Best of luck.
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:40 PM   #5
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


You would honestly be better off hiring the drywall "overlaying" process out to the pros, and attempting to do the trim work yourself.
The overlaying process takes skills on many, many levels...for it to come out correctly and look good. The pros can make it look like the original walls, and no one would be able to figure out that it was overlaid, unless you tell them. When you attempt to "patch" plaster, it can come out very lumpy, and crack in other areas, over time. When you overlay the bad plaster with new Drywall, it is a permanent fix/repair.

Here is an example of a job that was exactly the same as yours. The old horse-hair plaster was an absolute mess. Work done in this kitchen (rental property):
The dropped ceiling was removed. Paneling taken off the walls. New ceiling framed and sheetrocked, new recessed lighting added, all walls overlaid with 3/8" sheetrock (we prefer to use 3/8", rather than 1/4" for overlaying):






Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 07-23-2008 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:51 PM   #6
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


I can't access the pictures you posted right now, I'm at work and theyre blocked- but maybe I'll get estimates from people to do that as opposed to ripping it all out-- I don't want it to turn into a huge project, I just want to get rid of the drop ceilings and make it look more open- but is that an acceptable thing to do? I've heard mixed things about it from different people-
I just don't want it to end up looking cheap or looking like things were covered up-
I'm concerned about how the windows and doorways will look- but I guess if I get someone who knows what they're doing to do that, they would be able to make it so you couldn't tell? Or is it going to be obvious that there's stuff under the drywall?
Plus, if the plaster is lumpy or anything, would that impact how the drywall covering it ends up looking? I don't know yet the condition of the plaster- so would it be better to put it up over the paneling, which we already know is a smooth surface? Or could that cause a problem?
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:04 PM   #7
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


Quote:
Originally Posted by margog85 View Post
I just don't want it to end up looking cheap or looking like things were covered up-
It won't if you have experienced professional do it. When you can access the pics I posted (I am having trouble posting a direct pic for some reason), you will see what it can look like. We have done hundreds upon hundreds of these. We have done entire 3 family triple decker houses. Everytime we have done them, the owners are not just happy, but, they're thrilled with the improvement, the finished product, and the fact that no can tell it was even done.

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Originally Posted by margog85 View Post
I'm concerned about how the windows and doorways will look- but I guess if I get someone who knows what they're doing to do that, they would be able to make it so you couldn't tell?
A good carpenter, or contractor can make it all seamless. Possibly consider getting some bids on the overall project. You could do it all together, or a different room each time you have the money saved up for it.

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Originally Posted by margog85 View Post
Or is it going to be obvious that there's stuff under the drywall?
Done correctly = It will turn out perfect.

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Originally Posted by margog85 View Post
Plus, if the plaster is lumpy or anything, would that impact how the drywall covering it ends up looking?
If the walls are very, very lumpy, then the lumpy plaster areas can be removed. Those areas can be furred out to match the surface, and the walls overlaid from there.

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I don't know yet the condition of the plaster- so would it be better to put it up over the paneling, which we already know is a smooth surface? Or could that cause a problem?
You can overlay over the paneling, as long as it is all flat, and no protruding trim is there. The sheetrock is screwed into the framing and sandwiches the paneling. This would add 1/8" additional thickness to the new walls (1/4" + 1/8" or 3/8"+1/8"), which you will have to accomodate the existing trim-work to (casings, baseboard, door jambs, crown molding, etc...) Good carpentry skills can work wonders with these.

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 07-23-2008 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:30 PM   #8
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


I'm feeling much more hopeful and less overwhelmed about this all now. The paneling is very flat- there's a gap at the top of the wall where there's no paneling & you can see the plaser & the wood that the panels are nailed to... would that be easily leveled out to put drywall over?

Is this likely to be cheaper than having everything torn out? I would think so, but I don't want to assume- maybe the cost of the wood work that would need to be done would soak up what I'd save on ripping out the plaster... but then again, who knows what's behind the plaster, what new things we'll find that need to be repaired- it really might be safer for my bank account to just cover it all up!

I don't plan on staying in the house forever, and it's an old house and will never be perfect- I guess it'd probably be more thorough to rip it all out, check the wiring, get all kinds of stuff in the walls looked at and re-done- but my main concern right now is making it LOOK nice and feeling less boxed in-

Do you think, since it'd be going over flat paneling, I could use thinner drywall? Or should I still stick with 3/8"?

Also, if I wanted to get any outlets added or light fixtures or switches put in, when would you recommend doing that, before or after putting up the drywall over the paneling & plaster? Would it make any difference?

And just a long shot, but are there any companies that work in Buffalo NY that you'd recommend?

Thank you so much for your advice- I really appreciate it!

P.S.
Won't be able to see the pics till I get home, but are they before & afters? If not, do you have any? Just curious... thanks again!!!
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:42 PM   #9
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


Quote:
Originally Posted by margog85 View Post
...there's a gap at the top of the wall where there's no paneling & you can see the plaser & the wood that the panels are nailed to... would that be easily leveled out to put drywall over?
You can purchase some 1/8" stock or cheap paneling to cut strips to fill in that gap, so the new sheetrock lays even.

Quote:
Originally Posted by margog85 View Post
...
Is this likely to be cheaper than having everything torn out? I would think so, but I don't want to assume- maybe the cost of the wood work that would need to be done would soak up what I'd save on ripping out the plaster... but then again, who knows what's behind the plaster, what new things we'll find that need to be repaired- it really might be safer for my bank account to just cover it all up!
We prefer to use the term: "More Cost Effective". Much less labor, much less trash, much, much less mess. Demo'd Horse-hair plaster is very, very heavy, and thus, a pain to haul out and get rid of.

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...
Do you think, since it'd be going over flat paneling, I could use thinner drywall? Or should I still stick with 3/8"?
You can use 1/4", however, it will follow and print any noticable imperfections more-so, than 3/8" will. Inspect your walls and see. If you feel pretty good about your walls, you can attempt to start the first area using the 1/4", and see how it lays. If you don't like it, you can up to 3/8" for future areas.

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...
Also, if I wanted to get any outlets added or light fixtures or switches put in, when would you recommend doing that, before or after putting up the drywall over the paneling & plaster? Would it make any difference?
Do it BEFORE you do any new drywall work. Also, regarding the outlets, you will have to adjust the depths of all electrical outlets and light switches, if you overlay. The Big Home Improvement Stores carry spacers that will adjust (bring out) the outlets and switches.

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...
And just a long shot, but are there any companies that work in Buffalo NY that you'd recommend?
Don't know. Do some looking, reference checks, and most importantly, go and look at similar type work at a previous job. Everyone "thinks" they know how to do drywall, but, IMHO, For work like this, you want someone who specifically does Drywall contracting, with experience doing such work, and hopefully, at least 10 years experience, or more, in that trade.

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...
Won't be able to see the pics till I get home, but are they before & afters? If not, do you have any? Just curious... thanks again!!!
No before's, unfortuantely, but the afters came out good enough, to give you an idea of what can be done.
I was able to post the actual pics back on my earlier post.

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Old 07-25-2008, 08:58 AM   #10
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


The guy we were considering working with to hang the drywall responded with the following today regarding my suggestion that we just hang the drywall over the paneling:

Molding, window and door adjustments don’t go well when drywall goes over plaster. I’d definitely recommend against. If you’ve got an issue behind the walls, which I doubt, but again you don’t know, you want to know about it.


A picture would not show how well the drywall laid down…if the plaster is wavy from settling, the drywall would reflect this. I would not put the drywall over plaster.


Should I try to find someone else who is wiling to do it & try to go ahead with it? Or try to do it myself? Is it really an unworkable thing, or can it come out decent looking? The pics that were posted here looked great, but now I'm concerned again- Or maybe this guy has just never done it before or hasn't been able to do it well?

I'm lost again and don't know what to do- Please advise.
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Old 07-25-2008, 11:31 AM   #11
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


PLEASE hire a professional, at least for the drywall phase. There's got to be someone in the area willing and able to do the work. Installing a couple of sheets or doing a repair is one thing, but a job of this scope needs a professional. Ask for and check references!
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Old 07-25-2008, 11:49 AM   #12
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


Do you think a professional would be willing to, and able to a good job of, hanging drywall over the existing plaster? Or is everyone going to give me a hard time about it?

The pics looked good, I've read about people online who have done it and it looked good- I would think that if it's done right, by someone who knows what they're doing, it should be fine- but I just want to be sure that this is acceptable and able to be done well.

I'm assuming the cost would be less to hang drywall over existing plaster & paneling than to remove it all, correct? Maybe I could get someone who's a professional to do that for what this guy was going to charge to remove it all and put up new drywall? (About $3K?)
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Old 07-25-2008, 12:24 PM   #13
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


I've hung literally miles of drywall over plaster. I haven't had any complaints. As far a s price, I don't know how big of an area you're considering doing, so I don't know if $3,000.00 is a fair price (and I don't know the going rates in your part of the country). I know from personal experience, I'd charge A LOT more to tear out than to cover it up. I would at least remove the paneling and get down to bare plaster. That demo wouldn't be too bad and you could possibly do that yourself. And as someone stated before, this would be a good time to add outlets, phone & cable jacks, etc. I suggested 1/4" rock because it will leave more reveal if you're going to leave the existing trim. You can use 3/8" or even 1/2'" if the walls are wavy. That will definitely help hide the bad places. Some "strategic" shimming can also be done. This won't be a mammoth undertaking if you get the right contractor. Look in the Yellow Pages or Google "Drywall Contractors". Look for "Drywall Supply" yards in the area and ask for referrals. And again, get references.
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Old 07-25-2008, 12:50 PM   #14
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


The size of the area is approx 1300-1400sq ft, including walls and ceilings- and I live in Buffalo, NY. So idk if $3k is too much, not enough- never had any big projects done before so I don't know what to expect.

Thanks for your advice- I will get additional quotes from drywall contractors- I found one in the yellow pages this morning, and I'll set up an appt with them.

Thanks so much!!
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Old 07-25-2008, 03:13 PM   #15
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Removal of paneling and drop ceiling


I'm sure you'll be very pleased with the results. Best of luck!

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