How to Remove a Plaster Ceiling

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An old cracked and sagging plaster ceiling is unsightly and can ruin the appeal of even a well-kept house. Over the years, plaster does deteriorate and can begin to separate from the wood lathe behind it, causing a host of problems. If the issues are severe enough, simply patching or repairing the plaster may not be possible and instead may warrant completely removing it and replacing it with drywall. With proper precautions, this can be done safely and efficiently by just about anyone, regardless of construction experience.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Shovel
  • Garbage can
  • Dumpster
  • Put on your work gloves, goggles and dust mask, as there will be a lot of falling debris and dust in the air.

  • Go to a corner of the ceiling and using the hammer, punch a hole through the plaster until you can see the wood lathe behind it.

  • Take the crowbar and wedge it behind one of the lathe slats and pull down to pry the lathe away from the stud. This will pull down both the lathe and any plaster that's in front of it. Continue this process, working your way from one end of the ceiling to the other.

  • Gather up the wood lathe and take it out to the Dumpster. This will make disposal easier. Using a shovel, scoop up the plaster pieces into a garbage can and take it out to the Dumpster.

  • Remove all of the nails that remain in the ceiling joists once the ceiling is down. Begin in one corner and work from one end to the other of the joist to ensure all of the nails are removed.

Tips & Warnings

  • This project is much easier if you have two people, as one person can pry off one end of the lathe, and another can pull down the middle part of the piece. This will result in a much quicker demolition and you'll also get larger chunks of the ceiling down at a time.
  • Do not stand directly under the ceiling you are removing, as the plaster is very heavy and can cause serious injury. Instead, stand to one side of the piece you are removing.

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