Like everyone else in older homes I have air ducts running the length of the house. I don't want to frame them in and lose 2+ inches of ceiling space. My idea is to have fabric/canvas taught running from one side to the other fastened up by 1x2's. I don't believe the heat will be to great on the fabric. I've been in the house for 3 years now and have had no condensation issues with the ducts during the AC season. Any thoughts on this?
Why bother with the fabric - it's just going to stretch out and look rather strange. If you can span the width of the duct with fabric then you can certainly span it with drywall. Some ways of doing this so that everything holds up:
1. If the width of the duct is 24" or less, then drywall (1/2") will span it easily. Build 2x4 'walls' that are attached to the overhead joist right next to and inline with the duct - one 'wall' on each side of the duct. Make the bottom plate this 2x4 framing level with or just slightly below the bottom of the duct. Then you can span this apace with drywall. Total loss in height = 1/2".
2. If the span is greater, then use 1x to span it first. Then attach the drywall to the 1x strips. Total loss in height = 1-1/4"
3. You can combine the two methods if the span is wide by framing as in #1 above and using drywall glue to support the middle of the drywall by attaching it directly to the duct. Just don't be tempted to screw through the drywall and into the ductwork as the moisture will eventually follow the screws and cause rusty stains.
You can encapsulate all your ducts in this way, framing for a custom fit no matter what the rest of the ceiling material will be. It will work fine to continue on with drywall for all the ceiling or to use the wrapped ducts as 'walls' that can hold drop ceiling tracks.
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