Attaching 1/4" or 3/8" Drywall to Horsehair Plaster Ceiling (No Wood)

My apartment ceiling remodel has ground to a halt. The contractor discovered that there are no wood studs above my horsehair plaster and steel lathe ceiling (circa 1895), only metal and concrete. (The building was originally a hotel.) He thought (eronneously) that he'd be able to screw 5/8" drywall directly to the plaster and that it would hold. The city inspector thought otherwise, and advised that we hire and architect to design framing to support the drywall.
BUT, I was wondering, can 1/4" or 3/8" drywall (because of its much lighter weight) be scewed directly into the horsehair paster and steel lathe ceiling without falling down, if it is not screwed into any studs? I've done a test by screwing a drywall screw into the plaster (which is about an inch thick), and it holds very well. It's only when you rock it from side to side with a good amount of force, using the extractor-side of a hammer, that the plaster starts to crumble and the screw falls out.
So, which do you think would be the better/cheaper/safer option, framing and then attaching 5/8" drywall to the frame, or somehow fastening thinner drywall directly to the plaster ceiling?
Thanks very much.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Neither or none of the above, Given that problem I would call in an old fashioned plastering contractor and have the ceiling redone to whatever specs you want. Think of the advantages, a skim coat and a few repairs will be very light weight, it won't support mold, it will look better than drywall (think butt joints, the drywall ceiling curse), your inspector will love it, and you may very well save money. Whatever you use on the walls, at the ceiling interface there will probably be crown molding, so that is not an issue. HTH
Joe
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I'd say that would be the easiest solution, except that the plaster ceiling is **very** damaged. It's basically like swiss cheese and would take a a miracle worker of sorts to bring it back to visual uniformity. We really can't afford that kind of craftsmanship. For every technological advance over the last 110 years, they seemed to need to punch a hole in that ceiling!
If we were left with the two other options, which would you recommend?
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I think you need to know what the repair idea costs before assuming you can't afford it. I mean, you can't say 100 is greater than X if you don't know what X equals.
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True. Well, this may be for another post, but we've got approximately 480 square feet of plaster ceiling to deal with. Probably about 20 sq. ft. of which is completely missing, seven or eight holes greater than 1' square, , and perhaps 20 or so smaller holes in the 2" to 4" range. Could you estimate how much that might cost to repair?
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No. I'm not in that business. Call a couple of real hardware stores and see if they can recommend anyone who specializes in this kind of work. A local historical preservation group may also be helpful, along with a call to a couple of architect's offices.
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On Dec 20, 1:16pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Neither.
The repair has to be the most sensible thing. No matter how many gaps, holes or whatever, if you have sound metal mesh it can be repaired and renewed. FWIW, if it were my pad I'd buy some good quality plaster mix, some tools and at least get some of the obvious repair work out of the way. Plastering isn't neurosurgery, but it takes some practice and a steady hand. It is about on a par with the way pro painters and accomplished DIYers cut in their trim before slathering on the main coat of paint. Seems to me, based on observing a plastering crew on the Left Coast some years ago, that an average room can pretty well be finished off in two half days by two guys. If you simply must cover the plaster with something, consider the stamped tin ceiling tiles which are newly popular these days. Put them up with construction adhesive and finish with crown molding and you have a dandy Victorian ceiling. HTH
Joe
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I was thinking the same thing. Just fix the plaster and be done with it.
OR
Install a suspended grid ceiling, but the hangers will need to be concrete anchors drilled thru the plaster and into the concrete.
I agree the screws will not hold jjust into plaster.
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On Dec 20, 3:11 pm, snipped-for-privacy@nomail.com wrote:

Couldn't I just attached 1x3s to the outside edge of the ceiling using heavy duty toggle bolts or very coarse screws that will grab into the metal mesh (and then do the same at regular intervals across the ceiling) and then attach the drywall to to the 1x3s?
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By the way, I don't think you need an architect to design framing. A smart carpenter should be able to do this. Hell...a bunch of Amish people can raise a barn in a day without architects.
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On Thu, 20 Dec 2007 10:45:53 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote Re Attaching 1/4" or 3/8" Drywall to Horsehair Plaster Ceiling (No Wood):

Holds what very well?
As an engineer, I would want to know how many Lbs of weight it holds before it tears out. I would want to know that for a random sample of about 1 per each 2 sq.ft of ceiling. Then I could tell you if it would work.
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