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Tom_123 05-17-2011 09:54 AM

How do I level a ceiling? Drywalling my ceiling
How do you level a ceiling? I ripped down my old plaster ceiling and this is what I was left with. I reattached the old "strapping" to the large floor joists with screws. I would like to put up drywall but the ceiling is visibly not level. In addition, the old "strapping" is very dry and prone to cracking. I'd like to change the "strapping" but am not sure how to do that given the placement of the joists.

For example, the old strapping is attached between the wall and the joist. It may be difficult to remove the strapping and replace it. If one wanted to do that would he "sister" pieces of wood to the joists? Is it worth changing the "strapping" or simply adding new strapping over top of the old?

Another problem I'm unsure about is that the right joist is slightly higher than the left. To level the ceiling, would I attach new wood under or above the "strapping"?

I would appreciate comments or advice. I've never done this particular job before. Thanks for your time.

SteelToes 05-17-2011 10:28 AM

It is kinda hard to tell ,looking at the pictures, how unleveled is that ceiling.

If the center joists are sagging down and are lower than the adjacent walls than you would have to remove strapping and shave the difference of in order to be able to level the ceiling.

Or add two additional drywall nailers to the top/side of the adjacent walls to match the height of the center joists.

If i was the one trying to level that ceiling i would remove strapping and add two 2x6 flat on top of the wall top plates so it sticks out for at least 2"...
Next i would use my laser level to determine how much does need to be shaved of the center joist and if it is more than 1/2" inch i would add that difference to the bottom of the already fastened 2x6"s in order not to structurally weaken the joist.

After the side frame (2x6s) and center joist are all on the same level i would add a new 1x4 @16O.C strapping or resilient channel across just like existing.

SteelToes 05-17-2011 10:30 AM

On a side note;

You should look in to upgrading your existing KT wiring as well...

Tom_123 05-17-2011 05:54 PM

That makes sense
Hello SteelToes,

Alright, that makes sense to me. I'll rip out the old strapping, add in some 2x8 pieces of lumber to make the height adjustments, and add new strapping as you've suggested. I'll probably have to destroy what's left of one of those old plaster moldings to get in close to the joist that aligns with the wall.

About the leveling: do you think a string would work in place of a laser leveler?

Also, how necessary do you think it is to replace the old k&t wiring? I read that it was likely installed between the 1880s and 1930s. That makes sense given the age of the building (approx. 1910 to 1920). I ask because, from the opening I've created in the ceiling, I can see the wiring going to the lights in the adjacent rooms. Would you suggest I change all the wiring including that which goes to the adjacent rooms?

I also read that the old k&t wiring was designed to displace heat away from the wiring into the surrounding air. I'd like to add insulation for soundproofing so I'll probably have to change the wiring I suppose...


Jim F 05-17-2011 06:03 PM

I would sister on new members to make it level. I would not shave the existing joists. The furring strips have to come down to level the ceiling definately.

Ron6519 05-17-2011 07:11 PM

Leave the strapping where it is. You can use this to level the ceiling. You need to set a level plane. You can use string levels or a laser. Shim the strapping down to the level plane, joist by joist. When you're done with the leveling process, proceed with the rest of the job.

Tom_123 05-17-2011 11:17 PM

Preparing the ceiling
Hello everybody,

Thank you for the advice. I've been thinking about it for the better part of the day now and I think I'm going to rip out all of the old strapping. It's too old and brittle. Plus, it's already cracked in a few places and I don't trust it.

To level the ceiling I'll probably 'sister' in some long 2x6 pieces of lumber on the two outer joists. The only thing I'm not too sure about is the joist that aligns with the wall. There is a 5 inch distance from the edge of the joist to the edge of the wall so even if I add in a 2x6 piece of lumber I'll still be 3 inches shy of the wall, making it difficult to attach new strapping. In order to get around this problem I was thinking of attaching the new strapping to the 2x6 lumber before fastening it to the joist. It might be tricky but it seems to be the only way to do it without ripping open the wall. What do you think?

For the two middle joists I'll level them accordingly by adding some 'shims' underneath, but only where it's necessary. I plan on using some string to guide me in this process.

There's one problem joist that comes from another room. It actually descends one inch below the other joists. I think I'll have to cut an inch off the bottom of it, at least where the strapping will be attached, to make sure everything's level.

Once everything's all prepared, I'll finish adding the new 1x3 strapping and then, finally, attaching some 5/8 inch drywall.

Am I forgetting or missing anything? What do you guys think? Thank you again for your time and suggestions. Cheers.

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