Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Distracted. Again.

Well, it has happened again. I am so easily distracted.

There I was freshly home from the hardware two 10' pieces of 18 guage wire in hand...up on my ladder.....looking at my doorbell chime with the cover off. And I got to thinking.

How hard could it be to pull that ishy acoustic tile down from my ceiling? What the heck is under there anyway? And does that flat electrical plate mean wires run under the tile?

Next thing I knew, half my ceiling was laying there on the floor. Before anyone blows a gasket, I had the tiles tested for asbestos a few years ago. It has long been in the plans that the ceiling would come down (I already have the new paint, wallpaper & lights that have been gathering dust while the ceiling was intact). Just not necessarily today. Just not necessarily before I had plans on what would happen next.

Under the tiles there is a series of 1"x 3" strips nailed to the plaster ceiling. Under the wood strips are these funky, grass textured 6"x 6" really thin tiles. They are sticky and I can't tell if that's grime, glue, or just the fact they have been covered up for many years. Not so attractive.

So, now I need to decide: 1) pull down the wood strips and deal with the nightmare that is the cracked & hole ridden plaster ceiling; 2) put up a painted tin ceiling; or 3) put up the Armstrong tin-ish tiles & paint.

This may surprise many, but I'm leaning towards the Armstrong tiles with maple crown (finished in amber shellac like my kitchen cabinets).
The thing that is giving me pause is that the wallpaper I bought is Morris design arts & crafts reproduction. It was quite expensive. If I put up new ceiling tiles and decide later that life is not worth living without the plaster ceiling showing, it means that the wallapaper will most likely be ruined. A dilemma.


Mike said...


DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT pull down those 1x2 firring strips on the ceiling. In a pre-digital photo world I did exactly like you in removing an acoustical tile ceiling in the dining room of our old house had and ended up with 1/3 of the ceiling plaster falling on me while I was taking down those strips.

I ended up having a professional dry wall the ceiling. He attached 1/4 sheet rock right to the strips, they were great for hanging it. He did the room in 9 small pieces to account for the variation in the plaster, and the work was impeccable. If you can find someone who is patient and particular, it will look like the original smooth plaster. That way you wouldn't have to worry about clashing with your wall paper.


Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

I am always a glutton for punishment and would pull down the strips and get down to the original plaster (even if most of it falls off in the process). Can't tell from the pics though - is there a crown molding at your cabinets or would you need to add one and what about the molding in the rest of the room? I am also tall so the extra headspace is always a + for me.

The gyp. board idea is good too if, after removing the first board, it looks like it will get out of hand.

So what happens with the doorbell now?

Ranty said...

Oh man...... I have been where you are. I have to agree with Mike - unless you love pain, don't pull those strips down! Re-doing a gutted ceiling is sooooo aweful. (Particularly if you are living in the place.)

I like those paintable tiles, by the way, I have never ever seen them before! I may have to seek them out, since I have my own crappy ceiling to deal with at the moment, and it so depresses me that I actually have considered knockdown texture spray. (Which I HATE.)

Good luck!

StuccoHouse said...

I'm a little relieved to receive advice to not take down the furring strips. They are oddly big 1"x3" and also attached with huge, long nails. The plaster underneath still *seems* well attached to the lathe, but even with the cracks & nail holes I know I'd get myself in way deeper than I could handle. I've patched a lot of plaster, but that is beyond my skills (and sanity). Although, like you Tiny I'm a tiny bit driven to take it all down regardless ;-)There is a small painted crown around the ceiling....I'll replace that with a small maple crown.

I'm still thinking about the Armstrong "tin" tiles over drywall. Here's my reasoning: I like the look of them. I've seen them put up, the seams caulked and painted...and they look nice. I could put them up myself pretty easily - they are a tongue & groove. With my outside work going on, I wouldn't have the cash to pay for drywall to be installed right now. And it "does no harm" to the, if at some point I decide to pull it all down and deal with the plaster....I can. Gulp.

The sad thing about this is that I'm pretty sure the tiles were an over reaction to cracking in the original plaster ceiling. The rest of the house got sprayed texture (oh joy) because of a crack or too. At least that's a little easier to deal with.

The doorbell chime is still in the works. I have a print out of the Petch House directions and I've figured out which connection is for which door.

Di said...

My house has the icky acoustic tiles too. When we moved in, they were in every room except the upstairs bathroom and 2 bedrooms. The great thing is our plaster was pretty much okay underneath it. We used some plaster washers to secure the saggy parts, then had the walls and ceilings skim coated with drywall joint compound. The end result was perfect, and our walls still have that wavy plaster look. I can't blame you for being hesitant about taking down the furring strips (our were 1x2s), but it's so nice to have "real" ceilings again. At least your replacement tiles are tasteful, though!

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