Seven tips for installing a new ceiling

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Seven tips for installing a new ceiling

This week’s blog started off as ‘Tips for painting a ceiling’ but then we were reminded of a kitchen renovation five years ago. “Mate I’m not sure about that ceiling” noted the local sparkie. “If it was me I’d rip it down and bang up a new one”.

Sage advice indeed. The ceiling had suffered a small amount of water damage a few years ago from a minor leak, but no amount of plastering was going to guarantee a perfect finish. We had a day spare, so ripped down the ceiling, sorted out the new wiring and ceiling cavity, and had new plasterboard up the next day ready for gib stopping. In hind sight it was a the best option.

So if you are contemplating some decorating, and aren’t sure whether to install some new plasterboard, here’s a few tips for putting up a new ceiling:

1. Safety first
Isolate any of the lighting or hot point wiring circuits at the fuse board and clearly mark them so that no one can accidently turn them on. To comply with electrical safety requirements you may need to get an electrician in to assist. You will also need to use eye protection and a mask, as there is often a lot of dust associated with plasterboard removal. Wearing a cap might also be a good option.

2. Plan ahead
If you are going to rip down the ceiling, now is the time to think about the placement of any new lights. If you are sick and tired of washing dishes in a shadow, consider putting a suitable light fitting directly over the sink (and any other work areas) to improve illumination. Work out a lighting diagram before you start and calculate the dimensions so that you can measure up later. If the ceiling insulation also needs replacing, consider shoving a couple of bags of insulation up into the ceiling cavity once the plasterboard has been removed: it’s usually the easiest way to get the insulation into the ceiling before pacing the material between the trusses.

3. Removal
Removal isn’t that hard. A hammer and crowbar usually make short work of the job. Work at a suitable height also help immensely, so consider borrowing some planks or hiring some trestles. Clean up as you go, and remember to removal all clouts, nails or plasterboard screws. Remember: there will be dust.

4. Make it level and even
You’ll need to run a long level over the trusses and batons to make sure the surface is flat and not undulating. Any deviation of more than 5-8 mm might result in a ripple in the ceiling that will haunt you for years to come. Apply plywood or similar packing to obtain a flat even face. To provide good support for the panels ensure there are batons at least every 600 mm. Some builders favour ‘back blocking’ the joints in the plasterboard but our preference is to place a baton along any intended joint line.

5. Wiring and insulation
Now is the time to place any new wiring loops or insulation in the ceiling. If you’ll need to crawl up into the ceiling cavity later, a few narrow sheets of MDF placed in the cavity now might make crawling a little more comfortable.

6. Measure, mark and apply adhesive
Clearly mark the centre of the intended screw lines on the walls. If you intend to fix a reasonably wide coving you might also want to place in some nails in the corners (which will leave a small gap), to enable you to run a string line along the truss or baton. Remember that most plasterboard has a bevelled 40 mm edge for board-to-board stopping so you may want to remove this bevelled edge if the plaster board is going hard into a corner. Apply reasonable amounts of adhesive on the bottom of the trusses WHERE YOU WON’T BE SCREWING. Gluing and screwing in the same place usually leads to the screws popping out at some stage. You should plan for the plasterboard screws to be no more than 300 mm apart, and the adhesive applied between these screws.

7. Get it up
Working above your head is best with at least two people, so invite a friend over for a fun afternoon and a few refreshments. Better still, hire a gib lifter. It will allow you to position the panels with ease and accuracy, and avoid a mess with the misplaced adhesive (and associated swearing). You may also want to fabricate a ‘T-bar’ from a few pieces of 4×2 to help hold the panels in place. Using the marked lines (or nails and string line) screw the panels in place by screwing at least every 300 mm. Take care with screwing in the screws; they should be slightly recessed for easier plastering but shouldn’t break the paper.

Yes it’s a bit of work, but certainly worth the effort for a good even surface for painting. Good luck!

Some useful links:

Our Gib Board lifter: http://bit.ly/UHH2j7Rt1k

Our 2.4 m Trestles: http://bit.ly/2zptrmB

Our Gib sander and vacuum unit: http://bit.ly/2pLZtmU

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