My house was built in 1925. I decided to take down the previous homeowners drop ceilings and quickly realized why the drops were installed - the ceilings are in bad shape as you can see in the pictures.
So my question is, should I:
1) Repair the plaster and then re-paint? (And if possible add some remodeling grade recessed lights)
2) Sheetrock over top the plaster? (Again, adding some remodeling grade recessed lights?)
3) Rip it down to the joists, add some lighting, insulation, and then put up new sheetrock?
I should mention, I measured the distance between the current drops to the ceiling since the drops are level. The lowest point is 6" and the highest point is 9".
Go for door #2.
Skin over it with 1/2" drywall, no need to remove it all. Now, if there are any dips or bubbles in the plaster then go ahead and cut those sections out, then install the new drywall over both plaster and cut-out areas.
As for putting in the cans, go ahead and put them in first as new construction cans instead of remodel cans. Just lay out the can locations and cut out a large enough area of plaster to install the can - no need to be pretty or precise here. Also, use the same holes to run your wiring from can to can. When you install your drywall, it's just like new construction - measure and cut out the circle for the cans before installing each piece of drywall.
While all those holes are there in the old ceiling you can mark out where the joists are and snap some chalk lines. Make sure you use long enough drywall screws to pass through the plaster (where the thickness can vary) and into the framing above.
That says that the original ceiling is not very level. Pretty typical for a house that old. If you skin on top of it then your new ceiling will also be out of level. But, it's an old house with high ceilings. Probably will not be noticed by many and you can claim that it adds to the charm.
Should I just drive a ton of screws through the plaster to secure it to the joists?
No need to do much more in screw count than normal, just be very careful not to break the paper face when counter sinking screws. In old houses the joists are probably as hard as stone so it's difficult to get a feel for how hard to drive the screws. Usually the hardness varies so much that a driver with a clutch is useless.
Have you used Chicago/USG suspended drywall?
No, just installed in the conventional way.
Keep in mind that if you do use a suspended drywall system that you'll likely still have to bust through the old in areas where you are installing cans - unless you install the new ceiling about 8" below the original.
The suspended system will enable you to make a perfectly level ceiling thought. It's basically a heavy duty channel system like a HD drop ceiling frame that you can attach drywall to from underneath.
Yeah, I would bust through to install the lights, eight 6" wholes is a lot better demo than 400 sq ft of demo
Doesn't seem like the suspended systems are very popular, I'll probably jump on the phone tomorrow and see where a consumer can purchase them and what they cost.
Edit: Also, thank you very much for your awesome responses This message has been edited. Last edited by: Frank F in Philly,
I see on this site you did not post any pictures of just how bad that ceiling is,
There's a whole lot of sections where the keys have broken free and are now in danger of falling.
Correct me if I'm wrong, there was an unfinished attic over head and at some point someone finished it out into a room.
One way to tell is if there's some form of insulation behind the lath.
If there is then it was an attic.
Old house to me means under sized, over spaned joist.
If you removed the old plaster and lath, plus the insulation you could then use a self leveling lazer level to mark the walls so you could sister in new wider joist. (there is no way to just measure from the floor to the celing and have it be level in an old house with a tape measure)
What this would do is eliminate the reason ceiling failed in the first place, the ceiling would now be level and flat.
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