Who doesn’t love the period charm of an older house? But what to do when you have to repair something as notorious as a plaster ceiling? It’s a difficult decision, isn’t it? Difficult to find that point where you need to stop repairing a ceiling because repairing it is a cheaper option.
You might want to shed a tear when an original plaster ceiling comes down, as the house will lose a little of its character.
But times change and so do our expectations with the changing time. Since cost is a big factor during major renovations; ripping out a ceiling might not be as big a deal cost-wise than hiring a professional for gib stopping in Auckland. Although, we know what’s the wise thing to do here.
Since you are here though, you probably have a sagging ceiling or one that is falling off the laths and severely cracked.
Okay, enough of the talk, let’s learn how to evaluate whether to repair and/ or take down your plaster ceiling.
Evaluate whether to repair or remove your plaster ceilings
Stand under one corner of your ceiling, with your head almost touching the ceiling look across the surface, check for any unevenness, cracks, sagging sections etc. Repeat it from the opposite corners.
Your ceiling might look flat from the floor, but once you get up there on a ladder, you will get a much better idea. A sagging ceiling doesn’t necessarily mean that plasterwork has broken away from the lath; old houses settle and the ceilings go along for a very long time. So, if your ceiling is sloping, it might not need repairing.
In areas where you suspect that the plaster has separated from the lath, gently push it upwards with your hands. If you feel that after the little push, the plaster is moving up and down, this means that it may not be completely attached to the laths.
NOTE: Dust and debris may fall from the cracks of the ceiling when you do this, but don’t panic. You might not want to shove the ceiling hard because you might end up wearing it. So, go gently.
When a ceiling fails completely, the plasterwork separates entirely from the laths, and eventually drops down. This indicates that the lime mortar is just hanging underneath the laths, virtually unsupported. Mostly, the plasterwork is held up by horsehair strands in the mortar. Although this rarely happens over the entire area, some areas might still are perfectly okay.
If left in such a parlous condition, the plasterwork will ultimately start to crack and even drop away – in small pieces if someone is jumping on the floor above or if there is a water leak.
Keep or Start Over?
It is a question of percentages. In case, more than one-third portion of a ceiling is falling; replacement is much cheaper than repairs. So, make sure you check the entire ceiling and mark any areas that have separated with a marker.
Try to judge from the floor what percentage of the ceiling has failed from your mark. More than three-fourths?
If the answer is Yes, you might have to take the ceiling down and start over as repairing a lath and plaster can be expensive.
Word of advice?
If you have to start over, consider using Rondo ceiling battens. Why?
- They can help plasterboard from cracking.
- They make it easy to obtain a flat level ceiling.
- Fixing them with clips can reduce the impact of noise between the top and bottom floor in your house.
- They will reduce the chances for call-back maintenance, saving your time and money.