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How to Plasterboard a Ceiling Direct to Timber Joists

How to Plasterboard a Ceiling Direct to Timber Joists

Plasterboarding a ceiling is more difficult than a typical wall due to gravity. Ideally, you’ll have someone to help you lift the plasterboards, but if not, you could use a plasterboard lifter that does the heavy lifting for you. These lifters can be hired from your local DIY or tool hire store. We use Speedy Hire where you can hire by the week.

Ceiling joists form the equivalent support structure for the ceiling as studs do in a stud wall. Their exact location can be tricky to find when you have an existing plasterboard ceiling where you are reapplying your plasterboard - as you will be unable to see it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help find the joists:

Check the loft

You might have a loft, in which case you can likely easily determine where the joists are by taking a trip up there and measuring the spaces. On the ceiling below, you can simply mark the position of the joists.

Strip the boards

As plasterboard is a relatively low-cost material you could strip off the sheets of the existing ceiling and find the joists that way. As you will be redecorating the ceiling anyway, this is often a viable option.

Use a stud finder

You can use a stud finder on the ceiling to easily locate the joists, similarly to how you would find the studs in a partition wall. Stud finders often use magnets but there are also radar and microwave models.

Once you have found the ceiling joists you can now begin fixing plasterboard sheets to create the surface of the ceiling. The process is straightforward for most competent DIYers if you use the following step-by-step guide:

Cut the boards: To measure a ceiling for plasterboard, simply multiply the length and width to get the square foot or square meter area. You can use a plasterboard knife to cut the boards, but you may also benefit from using a mechanical multi-tool or hand saw that can help to speed up the process.
Position the boards’ corner first: Start in the corner and fix the boards to the joists. The edge of the boards should fit halfway across each of the joists.
Fix the boards using plasterboard screws: Screws are the best option for existing ceilings as they are so reliable and sturdy, you can also get very long screws that will penetrate the existing layer of boards. Once all of the boards are fixed into place - the new ceiling surface is ready for decoration.
Plasterboarding is a similar process whether you are doing it on a stud partition wall, an external wall or on a ceiling. Once you have successfully put up the boards, you can use jointing tape to finish the ceiling as you would an ordinary wall - the plasterboard tape provides a smooth, even surface for you to paint.

How to Plasterboard a New Ceiling

New ceilings have the luxury of visible joists, which makes this type of plasterboard ceiling a much simpler one to complete.

After the timber for the ceiling structure is installed plasterboarding can be installed by using the following simple steps:

Cut the boards:Cutting the boards is easily done with a Stanley knife on new ceilings, but again larger ceiling spaces can benefit from the use of a more powerful hand tool - that can make it much faster and easier to cut.
Fit the boards: From the corner of the room start to gradually fill out and fix the boards onto the ceiling joists. New ceilings can make use of either plasterboard screws or nails to fix the boards in place.
Finish: Joint taping in a new ceiling is essential for a smooth surface so be sure to skim each area with a jointing compound to cover up all the fixings and any seams within the ceiling system - the surface is now ready to paint.
How to Plasterboard a Ceiling on Your Own

It is always easier to install a plasterboard ceiling with someone helping you to lift it or by using a plasterboard lifter as discussed above. But you can plasterboard a ceiling on your own by using a prop method, which people also call a ‘dead man prop’. To do so you can follow these simple steps:

Cut a couple of pieces of timber, 1 to about 50 mm longer than the ceiling height and the other to 600 mm - a bit wider than the joists or battens.
Screw the smaller piece into the end of the longer piece - creating a T-shape. For large boards, you may need more than one prop.
Put the board up to the ceiling and when you have it in position remove one hand to place the prop underneath. Simply rest the prop against the wall near where you will be standing - so it is in easy reach to move.

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