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My ceiling Joists below my living room are not level and im trying to figure out most efficient method of installing a level ceiling while maintaining maximum ceiling height. Should I use 2x4s on the sides of the joists? Or sacrifice height with cross framing and shims?
 

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Usually, here in New England, we use strapping (1x3's) perpendicular to the joists and attach the sheetrock to that. It helps smooth things out.

Unless the ceiling is really out of level you'll never notice.
 

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retired union carpenter
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the easiest way I've found, is rent an auto leveling rotating laser for a day, buy a set of 6" vice grip welders clamps $25.00. hang the laser 2" from joists, sister 2x4's to joists, clamping, raising/lowering as needed. no shims. if have help? make sure using same measurement

good luck
 

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shim and install metal furring channel perpendicular to your joists. easier then trying to use twisted 1bys that crack and the furring channel comes in longer lengths then 8' and they are true and straight.
 
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