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Old 01-18-2008, 07:10 PM   #1
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Tough Ceiling Renovation. HELP!!

Dear Guys,

I am very experienced at performing and overseeing complicated home repairs, but this one has me totally baffled.

I recently bought a ranch style house, built in the early 1980s. At some point in early 1990, the prior owner added a large addition, apparently by himself. The ceiling was drywalled with 3/4 inch board, and then taped and smoothed. However, in the paint process, someone applied a "sponge" technique, putting on very heavy round swirls of paint (or plaster mix) with a sponge. Each of the swirls is a circular vortex, about 6 inches in diameter, and they were applied in an even grid-type pattern across the entire ceiling. Parts of the swirls are raised about 1/16th to 1/8th inch from the original smooth drywall. (I hate the swirl pattern, and wish it weren't there.)

The ceiling is very large, about 380 square feet.

Now, 18 years later, probably as a result of the prior owner's do-it-yourself taping and mudding, all of the seams in the ceiling are peeling and falling down/out. In most places, the tape is cracked, with the edges very visible, and sometimes tape is hanging down and inch or two. (Of course, in each place where the seam has failed, portions of the swirl design have been destroyed.)

I am putting a lot of money and effort into remodeling, and I want the ceiling in this room to look great. But, what can I do??? It seems to me that I can't bring a drywall man in and tell him to pull down all of the seams (and re-mud and retape them), because then I would have a bunch of new smooth seams in the middle of the sponge swirl design. Thereafter, no painter would be able to "re-sponge" those places and have them match the existing swirl design.

I thought about asking a dry wall expert to just put a new layer of smooth drywall over the existing ceiling, but can my ceiling handle that kind of weight? The ceiling joists are only 2 x 4s, because the overhead roof trusses are pre-fab trusses, with the bottom parts of the trusses being the ceiling joists, and just a 4 foot crawl space overhead. The spans of these 2 x 4 joists are a whopping 28 feet long (unsupported), and each of the joists are made of two separate pieces of 2 x 4 that were butted together end-to-end, held together with metal joining plates.

The pre-fab roof trusses are spaced 24 inches on center, not 16 inches.

The ceiling joists are not currently sagging, but the current drywall (being 3/4 inch) probably weighs around 80 pounds a sheet. Adding a new layer of 1/2 drywall would be another 55 pounds or so a sheet. Can the bases of 2x4 pre-fab roof trusses support this kind of weight?

It would be almost impossible for me to tear down the existing ceiling and start over because, surprise, the overhead insulation is loose-blown paper/pulp (?) about six to eight inches thick! I would have to figure out how to crawl through the overhead crawl space, and bag and remove all of that insulation, before pulling down the ceiling. What would that be? About 100 full 33-gallon plastic leaf bags?? And then, after the new ceiling is installed, I would have to re-insulate the entiree overhead space.

What can I do? Any ideas? I though about installing direct-apply overhead ceiling tiles (right over the current drywall ceiling), but I don't think that the adhesive/glue would hold them up tight on the existing rough swirl-surface.

I guess that I could think about a drop-down ceiling. (The current ceiling height is 8 feet 6 inches, so I would have room to hang it). But I HATE the look of those metal hang tracks. No matter how nice of a tile/panel you pick out, there is still that tacky metal grid track to look at. Not my idea of a beautiful ceiling.

I would certainly appreciate any and all ideas, thoughts and comments. Thanks very much.

Best Regards,



Mannyrock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2008, 07:54 AM   #2
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Find yourself a good plasterer.

If you want a smooth finish to the ceiling, he can unbond(seal) the existing finish on the ceiling, retape the joints and the plaster straight over the existing.

This saves on any extra weight being applied to the ceiling joists and is also less work.


lockie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2008, 06:52 AM   #3
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My .02 cents. With only 12 boards needed (380sqft)
I would tear the old drywall out.Remove insulation.Reinstall paper backed insulation (The old stuff is just that "old") Then reinstall 5/8`s Sheetrock.I say 5/8`s because you made mention of a 24" span with your ceiling joists.Any thing less than 5/8`s on a 2` span will show up with high and low spots.Good luck.
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Old 01-28-2008, 08:12 PM   #4
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Hi MR, You didn't say what type of room this is. Is it a great room, indoor pool, bed room? For some reason TIN jumped into my head, But I would agree with Lockie and get it all plastered over. It's probably the cheapest also.

Wait a minute...No, you should do it yourself. This is the DIY forum after all

Let us know what you decide!

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Old 01-29-2008, 09:04 AM   #5
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Thanks for all Advice

Dear Guys, (or if you are in the U.K., Blokes?)

Thanks for all of the advice and ideas you have given me about the ceiling. Plaster, new sheetrock, tin.

I really like the idea of plaster, because I am in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and it is loaded with big estate houses and farm houses, built in the 1920s, 1930s, with plaster. This means that there are a fair number of people around who know how to install and repair it. (If you live in the suburbs of one of the big cities, NOBODY knows how to do plaster work.)

My only concern about plaster is that there is of course the crawl space overhead, created by the pre-fab trusses, and the bases of the trusses (serving as ceiling joists) are just 2 x 4s. If I put a beautiful plaster ceiling up, and then have to go up into the crawl space later to work on electric, or insulation, or a roof leak, etc., I am worried that my weight, crawling around up there, may crack the plaster ceiling. I really have no idea how "tough" or "flexible" plaster is, when put over the sheet rock.

Removing all of the overhead insulation, and pulling down the entire existing ceiling, is clearly the most correct way to fix the problem. But at age 53, I just don't think that I have the strength (or mental staying power) to do it, especially scraping up and bagging all of the loose blown fluffy paper type insultaion up there. (This would also create so much mico-dust in the air in the crawl space, that there would be a real danger of an explosion! I would be afraid to turn the light switch on and off!)

The tin idea may be the way to go. The room is currently a crazy L-shaped Den, but I am converting it into three spaces, an extra bedroom, a smaller rectangular den, and a parallel hallway. Since these are all "informal", the ceiling tin (or tile) look would work out pretty well.

Tin is immensely expensive, however, so I am now looking into Armstrong pressed-board ceiling tiles (24" x 24"), that have impressed tin-style designs. These look great and can easily be painted. They weigh somewhat less than drywall, and you can apply them directly to a ceiling, onto furring strips, which does away with metal tracks. These aren't cheap (about $2.00 a square foot), but it may be the way to go. I am going to search on E-Bay, to see if I can pick up a few boxes for much cheaper.

Thanks again for everything. When I get it all decided and settled, I'll let you know.

Regards, Mannyrock
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Old 05-01-2008, 11:52 AM   #6
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You will likely need to rent a portable scaffold to do those jobs more easier. Check with Home Depot and other stores in your area to see who rents them. Rent 3 sections of perry scaffold. They stack on top of each other and are adjustable w/ locking wheels. They are narrow,and easy to move around. It can help you fixing and installing your tiles and ceiling lights
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:50 AM   #7
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I want to extend my house.

Okay friends, I want to extend my house. What I need is the minimum distance the wall footings can be dug from the waters edge to prevent disturbing the waterline line soil and bank and causing the building to subside. Can anybody tell me the building regulations regarding building an extension which borders a canal basin what is the minimum distance? Thanks in advance.


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