Remove 1950's Drop Ceiling Tiles?

clover8February 26, 2009

Hi everyone,

I'm updating a bedroom in a house that was originally built in 1911. The bedrooms were updated sometime in the 1950's and have those ugly square ceiling tiles. One bedroom is really bad, where the ceiling looks wavy. The bedrooms are on the 2nd floor, under a full walk-up attic that was renovated about 10 years ago.

I would like to take them down and have a solid ceiling put up. Is this a job for the pro's? Am I at risk for messing with asbestos in the ceiling tiles? Or can I just rip them down myself?

If anyone has any experience with this or any advice to give

Thanks in advance for any input or suggestions!

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We had a similar issue in our 1907 home updated late 50's early 60's. I suppose the ceiling was put in to bring down the ceiling and not have so much area to heat/cool. It was ugly to say the least. We looked into many products designed to be used in drop ceiling grids which included some really cool looking tin tiles made for drop in applications. We also investigated using a wood panel along with wood strips that mimic a coffered ceiling. This product was also manufactured for drop in applications. All of these products were in our opinion really nice, but also had a really nice price tag. We ultimately decided to take ours out completely, which is has been done, but we have not decided what to do with our ceiling which was originally papered. There are many websites on the internet with pics of these products.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:15PM
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Before you rip them out, you should get them tested to make sure they don't have asbestos in them. There is a decent chance that they do.

Are they stapled to joists or wood above or is it a drop ceiling? If they are stapled, there is no way you are going to get them off without breaking some tiles. If they are in a drop ceiling, you can probably just lift them out and then take down the frame they are suspended on.

If there is no asbestos, you can definitely demo them yourself. Otherwise, there are lots of rules about how you have to dispose of the tiles, and of course, you would need to determine how much exposure you are willing to risk. The danger is probably overblown by sleezy tv lawyers, but obviously the stuff isn't good for you.

As far as putting up a new ceiling, I assume you are talking about drywall. If so, putting the sheets up is within the skill range of most homeowners. It is just a matter of lifting the pieces up and screwing them in. The challenging part is taping and mudding. It isn't rocket science, but it is definitely a learned skill. If you haven't done it before, it is going to be messy and involve incredible amounts of very fine drywall dust. The pro's seem to be able to mud with only minimal sanding, but unless you have done it a couple thousand times, you'll likely end up sanding a bunch and reworking areas multiple times to get them smooth.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:51PM
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My guess is that the tiles were put up to cover some kind of damage or defects in the original ceiling. So that means a layer of drywall over the old ceiling. Billl covers the asbestos issue quite well so it's up for you to decide.

If you're up to it, hang the drywall yourself and then hire a pro to do the tape/mudding.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 10:29AM
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Hi everyone!
Thank you in advance for all the advice!

As far as asbestos containing, we had a few neighbors and friends come over, and conclude that they didn't "think" they were asbestos. I'm not sure what to look for as far as asbestos board, but these were like cardboard, with a particle-board consistency.

So, we proceeded to take them down. (Wearing makes, etc.) Most of them were so warped - probably from the wet attic the previous HO had before they fixed the roof.

What remains now is the joists and bagged insulation running between them and over the ferring strips. We did see evidence of two horsehair plaster ceilings (around the edges of the ceiling) that someone at some point in time must have taken down.

Now, the question is: do we remove the insulation between the joists??? I know it might be obvious to do it, but my boyfriend just wants to put in the ceiling. I'm more thorough. The mice, over the years, did quite a job making nests out of the batting, and the bags of insulation are ripped in alot of places. About 95% is still in tact.

He argues that if we take out the insulation, and replace it with new insulation, the mice will get in there to do the same thing. I disagree. I think if we take down the old insulation, and really button up all the places of openings where they could be coming from, THEN, put in new insulation, it would be the more cleaner and thorough way to go.

My boyfriend hangs sheetrock and plasters for a living, so putting up the ceiling is no big deal. But, he insists that going thru the trouble of removing the insulation is a waste of time.

What do you all think?

Thanks again for your great advice!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 11:21AM
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If the renovated attic is a finished room than it is possible that it is insulated in the rafters now and therefor you won't need to insulate the ceiling of the second floor. However it never hurts to keep bedrooms seperately climate controlled some so putting it back may have benefit. Insulation that is not 100% complete is not insulating anything really. It's alot like having a well insulated window that you leave open. I can't blame your bf for not wanting to touch the old insulation but he may just have to suffer the itchies to make you happy right.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 4:03PM
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