We're just about to undertake the most dreaded job yet - removal of
our bathroom lath and plaster ceiling. After reading a fair bit of
stuff by googling, i have learnt that no matter what we do (ie sealing
room completely, damping down, hoovering the top 1st etc) there is
going to be one hell of a mess. There is only 1 window in the room
and the wind never catches that well so through draft not very good
and as you can imagine the dust will hang in the air for days if not
My question - has anyone ever used a dust extraction vacuum for this
kind of purpose? Are they any good? Is it worth paying the £40 to hire
one or should we just resign ourselves to the *massive* clear up
Secondly, any other tips on the ceiling removal? any silly things we
Any responses greatly appreciated.
IMO a draught is the last thing you want. Close the window, tape up the
door, and get on with it. Once you're done, most of the dust will settle
in the first half hour. Bag up ang dispose of.
I like using a long crowbar. Nice and quick. Careful not to hook any
cables above the ceiling.
If the laths extend into an adjacent room, and you intend to leave that
ceiling intact, make sure you cut through them first with a pad saw or
Really? It settles that quick? So it's not as bad as plaster dust from
cutting out then? I thought it would be worse.
Thanks for that - just had another thought as well, should we do it as
a 2 stage job ie. remove the thick plaster on the facing side of the
ceiling first and then the laths/plaster, or do it all in the one go?
One go, the laths tend to stay behind, the plaster falls through.
Beware of bits falling on your head, especially when doing the 'jab & hook'
method with the crowbar. Might pay to do it from steps so that you are not
directly under the bit you are working on. Surprisingly heavy stuff.
I like to break it up with a club hammer, to avoid two foot square pieces
dropping off unpredictably.
ok, 3rd and final question (for tonight at least) would it be easier
to work from above it rather than below? Its easy access to all but
about 1m sq area. Here's the plan that we're thinking:
1. Remove everything from room & seal up
2. Cut laths (from above/below?) at edge of room
3. Break up with club hammer (from below)
4. Stand above it and have fun stamping out the laths (!?)
5. Bag up & clear up
Hows that sound? What did i miss?
Bear in mind that plaster dust plays havoc with domestic vacuum cleaners.
It'll split the bags and often overheat the motor. Best to dustpan and brush
the bulk. The worst of the mess is usually dirt lying on top of the plaster
rather than the plaster itself.
With access from above (and a helper below) I'd be tempted to saw along the
joist edge and remove in sections which you can stack in a plastic bag. You
can then just prise off the 2" sections with a scraper. At least the bulk of
the dust will be in one room. A plasterboard saw for about £3 works well.
I learnt this to my cost when chasing out the kitchen walls :-S
(bye bye dyson!) but the plaster on the ceiling is the old black
stuff - more like mortar than plaster and after killing our
household vacuum cleaner on normal plaster dust i got an Earlex
workshop vac for the mucky jobs (best buy yet - about £30 and not
let me down despite the bashing i've given it).
As posted elsewhere, I have just taken down our dining room ceiling (before
it came down of its own accord).
My method (encouraged by the fact that the plaster was peeling off the
laths but held together by the ceiling paper) was to ease it off with a
small crowbar, jabbing with the end of the crowbar to encourage the paper to
rip, and taking it down in about foot square chunks.
Because it came down in reasonably large chunks (which are heavy) I was able
to chuck the chunks straight into old dustbins, muck tubs etc. and get the
majority of the plaster straight into containers.
I then picked up the remaining plaster debris (which in my case was a sandy
mix more like render than plaster) using a 'wet and dry' vacuum cleaner.
One of those big plastic tubs on wheels with an elephant's trunk sticking
out of the side.
This made the job much less messy than I had been led to believe by other
I then screwed plasterboard over the laths.
I left the plaster between the laths as it pushed up out of the way.
This resulted in a slightly lower ceiling (by the thickness of a lath) but
avoided all the major mess of removing the laths, and also the problem of
removing or driving in all the nails left when the laths were pulled down.
I decided to try an alternative dress code, and used the disposable one
piece overalls from screwfix and a breathing mask and a face mask to try and
keep the muck away from my eyes and lungs.
It all worked pretty well, but I was no exactly a fashion icon :-)
So; from my experience it may be better to leave the laths and just remove
the ceiling paper and the plaster.
I guess it depends on how easily the plaster seperates from the laths.
P.S. you could always leave the whole thing up and just screw 9mm
plasterboard over it then have it skimmed - least messy option of all.
Ours is pretty solid so i'm not expecting it to fall off easily :-(
to try and
Clothing i'm not worried about - we have plenty of 'working clothes'
now - but have got half decent face mask and goggles.
What and do half a job?! ;-) We already decided when we moved in
about (18 months ago) that when it came to doing each room they
would be completely gutted and done 'properly' - rewired,
replastered, added electrics, replace ceiling etc, regardless of the
time taken and mess created. Maybe when we get towards finishing the
entire house (like that'll ever happen!) we'll start to worry more
about messing up the already completed rooms.. but thats years away
yet, we're only on the third room so far...
A pickaxe is a useful tool for pulling down a ceiling (careful
of wires!). If you are lucky enough to be able to have access
from above push the laths off with a baulk of timber. Pull out
any nails that don't come out with the lath.
Rake out the plaster at the top of the walls so that you can
slide plasterboard in over the plaster on the wall, it will be
much less likely to show cracks at the join then.
If you have to work in the room, an air helmet is *very* good.
You could D-I-Y one if you can find a vacuum cleaner which
Which should be placed outside the room to be done, with the hose
blowing clean air in.
I'd also change the filters first, if it was me.
(However, I've used several 8cm fans in series (with spaces to stop the
air rotating) to blow clean air through a hose. Works well.)
I cleared a ceiling area of just 6sqm. The plaster was covered in strings of black
have been coal fires in the house for years). The debris is dirty, heavy & bulky.
The dust is the
worst part (you will be blowing black snot into your hankie for days). Damping down
nothing except damp rubble. Definitely do it from above (I used a hammer & cold
chisel to loosen
the laths right next to the joists, & allowed parts of the ceiling to fall under
their own weight).
Make sure you have bathing facilities at the ready afterwards, you will feel like a
Mr Grimes and Wurzel Gummidge.
I have to say my hoover - a Henry - coped surprisingly well with the aftermath
(considering he is
15 years old).
When plasterboarding, the generous deployment of a spirit level is strongly
I've done this in a couple of rooms in our flat. Walls and ceilings.
Couple of things I'd advise:
1. Watch out for reaaly big chunks of falling plaster. I had one that
was 1m x 1m. If that had landed on my head it would have hurt.
2. You CANNOT stop the dust from getting everywhere over everything
you own. Open the window and seal the door of the room you are working
on. Do the job as quickly as you can and clean up as quickly as you
can. Brushing up the dust will create another dust storm - so dont
wait an hour before doing it.
3. Wear a mask. I didnt on the first room I did and suferred in the
chest for a couple of days afterwards.
4. Get the plaster off and cleaned away before worrying about the
laths. You can remove these afterwards, which will create much less
dust. Laths make excellent kindling for the fire.
5. If you have a helper, get them to bag plaster as you rip it down.
6. Smile when you have plasterboarded over and have a perfect ceiling.
Just thought i'd put an update on for anyone googling for this kind
of job in the future (don't ya just hate it when you read through an
older thread and don't know the outcome? or is that just me?)
Ok, so today was the day and now the job's done, i've just got one
thing to say.... that was fun!
Here's a summary of how/what we did:
1. Emptied bathroom of all movable objects (except partner - he got
the dustier side ;-)
2. Removed floorboards from room above (all numbered too for easy
replacement - screwed not nailed)
3. Removed insulation (didn't need to vacuum above laths as had done
that not long ago when laying insulation)
4. Released and taped lighting wires out of harms way
5. No cutting of laths required at adjoining rooms as bathroom has
only supporting walls which continue to 2nd floor - so got on with
kicking out laths from above.
6. The laths that couldn't be accessed from above were taken out
from below by starting at the accessible edge and pulling down with
a claw hammer (crowbar would've been good but couldn't find it) and
working our way to the wall.
7. When all the ceiling was down we got on with the clear up
operation - and even this wasn't as bad as i'd expected.
Bagged/crated most of the big rubble outside (estimate approx 12
rubble sacks for 8 sq m ). Swept up dust as best we could then
bagged as much as poss, then vacuumed with workshop vac and swept
again - and vacuumed again.
The dust was very dirty black dust, but settled quite quick and was
easier to pick up than 'pink' plaster dust (settled much quicker
All in all it took 2 of us around 6 hrs today (including clean up
time), but we still have more to do tomorrow - still got to pull
nails out from joists and tidy up the edges but that shouldn't take
So, anybody reading this in anticipation of undertaking a similar
job take it from me - it probably won't be as bad as you expect.
This was a messy but fun (if you like destruction) job, and i won't
hesitate now when it comes to replace all the other ceilings!
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