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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Laundry Renovation: How To Lift A Sagging Ceiling

Over the weekend we gave our sagging laundry plasterboard ceiling a DIY lift with some metal plaster washers - that are also known as ceiling buttons.

This is our third attempt at lifting our ceilings and these washers were a quick fix and much cheaper than our initial DIY ceiling lift with bandings that we did in the Living Room or the option of replacing the entire ceiling like we did in the Kitchen.

Most Australian homes built in the 1960s used bandings made from fibreglass rovings and plaster to hold the sheets of plasterboard ceiling onto the timber beams above in the roof space. Over time these bandings get covered in dust and dirt and break free thus resulting in the ceiling cracking, sagging and worse case scenario ceilings can give way and fall in causing one hell of a mess and a much bigger expense to fix!

For our Living Room a few years ago when we were new to the renovating game we attempted a DIY ceiling lift by attaching new bandings which we made from a bag of fibreglass rovings and plaster. We also had to hold the ceiling up with some timber supports we made, until they dried.

It was 2 days of hot and sweaty work to do the bandings in the roof space and the Living Room was out of bounds for about 5 days all up while it dried. Plus we spent about $100 on materials. It worked OK, the bandings held on but we found the supports were a bit forceful and needed to find a gentler solution to fixing our ceilings.

Our DIY Living Room ceiling lift
The old bandings in the roof which had come loose

For the Kitchen and Dining Room we had to go the whole hog and replace the entire ceiling which cost us $1500 and was done by our roof carpenter and Mr P.

There was no way around not getting a new ceiling for this room because of the changes we made when renovating, like knocking out the brick pantry which left a lot of holes to be patched and it was better for us to just get a new ceiling installed in here.

Our roof carpenter installing the new ceiling and cornices
As for the Laundry ceiling we decided to use these metal plaster washers which we found after many many many hours of research online. We bought them from Kilian Hardware in Philadelphia and got a bag of 500 washers for $40US delivered to us in Australia. You can find the washers here.

Of course we don't need anywhere near that many washers so have been happily handing them out to our neighbors, friends and family to fix their sagging ceilings with.

Kilian Hardware Co looks like a picture perfect old fashioned hardware store straight from a movie!

The washers are made for drywall but work just as well on plasterboard as we have discovered. They really are awesome little pieces of metal!

Here's how we lifted our sagging ceiling with the washers ....

Firstly, you need to find the roof beam so you have something to screw the washers into. We used a stud finder but didn't really like it because it kept on picking up the electric volts instead of the studs (and said stud finder has been returned to the place of purchase because it was more frustrating than useful!). Mark out your beams so you know where to drill into.

The other option of course is to just guess and drill holes which means you might end up with a few more holes to patch in the ceiling but at least you'll find the beams! Just take extra care of electrics and other things you may be drilling into!

Because the washers are counter sunk and the plasterboard isn't very flexible, you need to make a groove around where the washer will go so the plasterboard doesn't crack. It also helps the washer sit nice and flush. We made grooves in the plasterboard with a Stanly knife.

Then we were ready to drill in a screw and the washer. We put each washer about half a metre apart from each other. Because the washers are large they help to spread the load. They really do keep the ceiling in place, secure them well, and stop the sagging.

Next is to cover the washers with plaster so that nobody knows they are there. Because they are perforated this helps the plaster to stick and cover them as well. Once the plaster is dry, it can be sanded back and then painted. Job done!

Using these washers was such a quick fix and much cheaper than our initial DIY ceiling lift with bandings or the option of replacing the entire ceiling.

This is not a sponsored post I just want to share this great product so other Aussie sagging ceilings can get a cheap face lift if they need too!

Linking up with:
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Home Coming - The DIYers

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[All images my own - Other than image 5 Kilian Hardware]

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  1. I always wondered how this was fixed... my first apartment I lived in after college had a sagging ceiling in the bedroom and it sort of worried me!! I was happy after I moved out of there!!

    1. It is a worry, ours arent actually too bad they just look a bit wrinkled but we wanted to fix them sagging before they become a real problem :)

  2. Interesting! I'd never heard of this fiberglass banding construction method. Is it still used in modern homes?

    1. Im not sure if they still use this method, but its definately used in homes around the 1960s. Clever but not very effective after years of dust and wear!

  3. Nice job. Was the scoring with the Stanley knife to enable the washer to recess and sit below the surface of the plasterboard?

    How do you prevent the washer sitting proud so that it can be plastered and painted over?


    1. If you are using these on plasterboard they will pull into the plaster through the paper face quite easily - no recess needed. Then skim over the top.
      On plaster glass however you need to make a recess. The utility knife was enough to get the washer below the surface but it was time consuming – New option was to use a forstner bit. You can get these cheap at Bunnings (they are the drill bits they use to put the concealed hinges in with).
      This will allow you to make a perfect recess for the washer without much effort. Then you can fasten and plaster over the top easily.
      Hope that helps!


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