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Hi folks,

I am a new member to the forum, and this is my first post, so please bear with me and excuse my ignorance.

I am currently renovating a 13 x 20 room in our 1860s Greek Revival house in southwest Michigan. This room is on the first floor, with a same-size room directly above. The ceiling joists of the first floor room (which are the floor joists for the second floor room, of course) run the 13 foot width of the room. Since this house was built in the 1860s, there wasn't standardized lumber, but the joists are generally 7 inches deep and 2-1/2 to 3 inches thick. I'm pretty sure they are oak.

The ceiling of the first floor room has several layers. The first and oldest layer is plaster and lathe. Then a previous owner renovated the ceiling, screwing furring strips into the plaster/lathe and then attaching 1/2 inch drywall. So there is about 3 inches of plaster/drywall hanging from the ceiling joists.

My question: Would it be a good idea to tear all of this off, to reduce the load on the ceiling joists, and then install just a single layer of 1/2 inch drywall?

I estimate that I would get rid of about a ton of load from the ceiling by doing this. Is it worth it? I know it would be a messy, dirty job.
 

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Before you go to far in to renovations & it may be too late at this date being you are into it. Check with your local Historical Society & see if there are any restrictions that apply to an 1860 structure that you should be aware of for repairs. Also check with local realtors as to what the difference in sale value will be if drywall replaces Historic Plaster. Than look into Federal & State Tax credits that may apply & what effect it would have on your property if any. In other words would the gov't or State have any say if you use the credit & what it be ?
 

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Demoing plaster is done all the time. In your case, I don't know how much you gain by doing so. I mean, the house has been there since 1860 and then that layer of drywall was added......is it causing issues? Drooping, cracking, etc? If not, I don't know that I would be diving in to a major rehab unless you are doing the WHOLE HOUSE.
 

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I have a 1911 house that has plaster that someone did a similar thing to except they just screwed the drywall on to the plaster without furring strips. It looks horrible there's not a flat wall in the place. do as you are thinking you won't regret it. And when you have the ceiling open you can properly run electrical.
 

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One thing that may be worthwhile doing is to contact the previous owner and ask why they went through the furring and second layer of ceiling.

There may be a good reason you haven't thought of, such as having a kid who plays instruments in the room above (or below) and the additional layers helped with sound proofing, or heat insulation, or whatever.
 

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The weight alone is not a valid reason for a tear out.


If OTH it does not look good or is damaged then a full tear out would be the way to go as opposed to another layer as even 1st growth, oversized lumber has a maximum load limit.


Around here historical designations mostly apply to exterior modifications but quietly fishing around for information before demo might be a smart action so as best to avoid problems or know you have to be sneaky.
 
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I will agree with Colbyt.
I spent 40 years in the plaster trade mostly in the restoration side of the trade.
I have redone the plaster back to the original plaster after someone had taken out the existing plaster & install drywall. The new home owners would want to revert back to the original look with Cornish @ the wall & ceiling. I would estimate that 75% of my work was restoration of existing plaster. Had lunch yesterday with the guys still doing this type work & they are maxed out with work in the plaster restoration field.
 

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Naw,..... More likely horse hair reinforced,....

Personally, I'd probably tear down what's there, shim the joist to true, 'n level, then put up 5/8" sheetrock,....
I'm with you on pulling it all out/true and hang new. That's the only way you know what you've got IMO.

Horse hair could be a good call. Let's hope it stays easy for OP!
 

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Hi folks,

I am a new member to the forum, and this is my first post, so please bear with me and excuse my ignorance.

I am currently renovating a 13 x 20 room in our 1860s Greek Revival house in southwest Michigan. This room is on the first floor, with a same-size room directly above. The ceiling joists of the first floor room (which are the floor joists for the second floor room, of course) run the 13 foot width of the room. Since this house was built in the 1860s, there wasn't standardized lumber, but the joists are generally 7 inches deep and 2-1/2 to 3 inches thick. I'm pretty sure they are oak.

The ceiling of the first floor room has several layers. The first and oldest layer is plaster and lathe. Then a previous owner renovated the ceiling, screwing furring strips into the plaster/lathe and then attaching 1/2 inch drywall. So there is about 3 inches of plaster/drywall hanging from the ceiling joists.

My question: Would it be a good idea to tear all of this off, to reduce the load on the ceiling joists, and then install just a single layer of 1/2 inch drywall?

I estimate that I would get rid of about a ton of load from the ceiling by doing this. Is it worth it? I know it would be a messy, dirty job.
I tore out my entire house including the ceilings. My living room had sheetrock installed on top of plaster that had a chicken mesh wiring behind it. That was screwed on top of another layer of plaster with would lath behind it. It was a nightmare. But unless you have a good reason for tearing it all down, and that would not really have anything to do with what kind of load the ceiling is carrying I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't really be concerned about the load on the ceiling if it's been there for a while and not causing any problems. If you do decide to do it I wouldn't be worried about asbestos in the original plaster. However depending on when that sheetrock was hung you might have asbestos in that. There was a time where they used asbestos in sheetrock and sheetrock tape. Having some of that tested before tear down would be advised.
 

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Just curious: why do you think they are chestnut? And how can one tell the difference between oak and chestnut?
One looks like oak. Sorry - I really don't mean to be that sarcastic - but the two woods look different, much as pine looks different than oak...
 
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