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Old 10-09-2008, 11:28 AM   #1
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


Im about to start strapping the ceiling in my family room renovation. I was spot checking the existing 2x6 ceiling joists with an 8 straight edge and unfortunately the joists are all over the place vertically. Aligning the straight edge with the lowest joists shows a bunch of high joists with gaps of 1/2 to 3/4. I was planning to shim the strapping to flatten it but I dont know if that much of a shim is acceptable.

Ive seen a FHB article using metal studs to flatten a ceiling. Is that a good way to fix the ceiling framing? If so, whats the min. gauge I should use? HD has 25 GA, but those are flimsy if you ask me. Also, how would I attach the strapping to the metal studs, screws from above through the metal into the wood?

Right now Im leaning towards the shims, fastening them with 3 x .131 ring shank nails I have and then attaching the strapping to the shims with the same nails. Is this the best approach?

Finally, if there are only 2-3 low joists throwing the whole ceiling off is it okay to power plane the joists by 1/4 to 3/8?

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Old 10-10-2008, 01:14 PM   #2
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


I'd recommend 20 ga. which you'll have to get from a drywall supply. (You could actually use wood.) I don't quite follow.........if you level the ceiling by putting studs on the side of the joists, why would you even need strapping?? I don't think planing 1/4" - 3/8" would would affect the structural integrity of the joist either, especially if it's a one story and all you're doing is holding up the drywall. (Someone else more knowledgeable in structural engineering may prove me wrong.)

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Old 10-10-2008, 04:19 PM   #3
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


First off are beams off just because they are off, or is is because some are sagging from too much weight (like a second floor)?

Second, is this just a ceiling or is there a room up above or are you planning to put a room up above?

The reason I ask the second question is that it pays to think ahead. If there is the possibility of having a room above then more than likely 2x6's will not hold the weight.

Using a power planner will not affect the structure if you take off the amount you are talking about.

I suggest getting a self leveling laser level and use that to make the beams level. You can get one at Harbor Freight for less than $100. They work great for jobs like this.
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Old 10-10-2008, 05:40 PM   #4
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


No, these are just ceiling joists with attic above. There's no possibility of it ever being turned into a room. These joists will only be carrying the dead load of the drywall and a once-a-year walk by me up in the attic if I need to go up there.

The joists aren't sagging so much as they're not very straight and never were. Before this renovation this room was the garage. The finished ceiling had cracks all over it. I didn't care because it was the garage. Now that it's going to be a family room I want to flatten the ceiling framing to avoid cracking and screw pops.


I have a PLS 180 laser. I bought it for this project with leveling the ceiling and straightening walls in mind. It's worth every penny.
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Old 10-10-2008, 05:52 PM   #5
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


Again, I'd just level by adding a 2"x or metal stud to the side of the "high" joists or plane the low ones since it's a small amount. If it's just holding up the drywall, it shouldn't be a problem. No need to add strapping unless you just need to drop the ceiling more........
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Old 10-10-2008, 05:58 PM   #6
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


Hmmm. had problems b4...converted garage...
just what size are your 2x ceiling joists (collar ties...lol) and what is the span? Might be ways to be sure your new ceiling stays nice once you get the plane flat.

any other bracing ? rat runs?

Last edited by Big Bob; 10-10-2008 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 10-10-2008, 11:44 PM   #7
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


I would 'think' it easier to shim the too high ones with a plaster lath or other proper sized material than plane OFF material...that could lead to MORE and difficult problems. Obviously they didnt crown the 2X6's all up or down,,,OR it was poor grade of wood,,,or both.
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:57 AM   #8
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


If its a garage that was turned into a room, my thinking is there wasn,t any strong back installed !. I would go ahead and install one. this will bring all the ceiling beams back in plane with each other. BOB
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:07 AM   #9
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


I think it was both, 4just1don. The joists are just kinda thrown up there, somewhere around 16" oc, except where they're 24" oc. Some are twisted, some are crown up, some are crown down.

The funny thing is, the rest of the house is very well built. We've had pro contractors out to the house say as much. Anyway, it appears when they built the garage they used the dregs of the lumber they had left.

Buletbob,

This was a garage until about 3 months ago. What's a strong back? Is this a joist running perp. to the ceiling joists to force them down? Some sort of brace tied to the rafters above to force them down? I'm not familiar with that term.

EDIT: a quick search answers the strong back question. That may be a possible solution but the house has a hip roof and no gable to tie into at the ends. One end is at the roof edge and the other is at the center of the house so there's nothing to tie into.

Last edited by RolandOG; 10-11-2008 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:23 AM   #10
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


Not sure, but I think what Bob is referring to is called a "catwalk" in this area. I'll let him make the clarification though. If you have joists on 24" centers, you may want to consider 5/8" drywall on the ceiling to reduce sagging between the joists. Especially if you use a heavy texture like stipple or acoustic spray....
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:52 AM   #11
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bjbatlanta View Post
Not sure, but I think what Bob is referring to is called a "catwalk" in this area. I'll let him make the clarification though. If you have joists on 24" centers, you may want to consider 5/8" drywall on the ceiling to reduce sagging between the joists. Especially if you use a heavy texture like stipple or acoustic spray....
Well, won't the new strapping be enough to resist sagging? That will be at 16" oc.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:05 AM   #12
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


Ahhhh, yes. I had forgotten about the strapping. Probably easier than dealing with 5/8" if you're not used to it! Bob sounds like he's on the right track to use extra bracing also. Some of the joist problem may be from the span and improper (or lack of) bracing. I'll let him finish that response.
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:20 PM   #13
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


You could use 2X3 strapping and block/shim to the ceiling joists ( collar ties ha! ha! )
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:24 PM   #14
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


In passing, I would recommend using screws to fasten the strapping to the joists.
Hammering up-wards, sucks big time!
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Old 10-12-2008, 03:57 PM   #15
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Best way to flatten/level existing ceiling framing?


A few years of nailing drywall overhead and you get used to it, Wildie...... It does take some getting used to, I'll admit.

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