Ideas from Ed: A Ceiling Feeling (Volume 4, Issue 12)

In one of my early “Ideas” columns I showed how to easily cover a badly damaged closet ceiling with drywall to make it look new again. I’ve been challenged a few times since then to demonstrate the way to do the same on a larger scale, like in a full room. This month, I’ll use old pictures from my “stash” which showcase my technique. I have done this same procedure several times, always with excellent results.

Here is a picture of a kitchen with an ugly, out-of-level ceiling. It was much worse than it appears in the photo.

Here is a picture in a bedroom with a large hole in the ceiling from roof issues. (Obviously the roof had to be repaired before working on this ceiling!)

The plan involved installing a grid of sturdy wood (I used 2x4s) using the well-accepted spacing of 16 inches center to center. In the kitchen, I used “fence brackets” screwed to a frame around the wall to securely hold the 2x4s. If you can place them sideways the overall ceiling isn’t lowered much. You can see the brackets attached to the frame.

The bedroom picture shows a similar setup, but without the fence brackets, still placing the 2x4s sideways. In this installation, I was able to really hug the old ceiling, so the overall drop was only around 2” (shims, 2x4s, and new drywall). Instead of the frame being on the walls, it’s on the ceiling, but still shimmed level all around.

Here’s what’s critical:

- Make sure the frame around the room, whether on the ceiling or on the walls, is perfectly level

- Use the straightest kiln-dried 2x4s you can find

- Shim the 2x4s with whatever thickness of material is needed to ensure them being level their full length

- Screw through the 2x4s and the shims into existing joists above the old ceiling for a rigid structure

Now may also be the appropriate time to address any wiring issues, like adding a ceiling light, since whatever work you do will be covered over.

You may have noticed in the picture above that I have a home-made “T-post” to help me with drywall installation on the ceiling. I don’t have a fancy hoist, but the T-post works just fine. If your walls aren’t “finished” you can attach a 2x4 temporarily about an inch below the ceiling structure, forming a ledge on which to rest one edge of the drywall panel while lifting the opposite edge with the T-post. I suggest making the T-post about 2” longer than the floor to ceiling height. That way, you can push things tightly against the new framework, but easily remove it once the drywall is screwed in place.

Here are pictures of the same 2 ceilings with drywall installed.

I hope all your projects go well. Thanks for reading, and happy restoring!


If you’d like to download a PDF of this “Ideas” column, click here:

Ideas from Ed 2021-December_A_Ceiling_Feeling
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