False or Suspended Ceilings
If the functional use of colour does not bring the high ceiling of an old-fashioned house low enough, or if you wish to conserve room heating, you can fit a false (suspended) ceiling.
Measurements given here will have to be revised to suit the size of the room. The softwood wallplates (A—a) will measure about 50 x 25 mm (2 x 1 in). Fasten them horizontally to the
walls at the required height, using masonry nails if there is a brick substratum, or ordinary flat nails driven into the supporting studs of a lath-and-plaster or plasterboard wall.
You can often trace the position of these studs by looking for nail depressions in the skirting board, showing where the boards have been nailed on. But if the skirting boards have been attached to substratum masonry direct you will have to prod the walls at intervals with a sharp pointed instrument until you strike something solid. These holes will subsequently be hidden by the plates.
T-half join the cross battens to the wallplates (B). They should be about 50 x 50 mm (2 x 2 in) and of length equal to the width or span of the room. Spacing between will be determined by the width of the sheathing material for the new ceiling. If it is not more than 400 mm (16 in) there will be no danger of its sagging in the middle. Add cross noggings (A—b) where the ends of the sheathing join — for all sides and ends should be supported by something solid.
Sheathing can be plasterboard or fireproof sheet laid on top, not nailed, so that the battens are exposed in the form of narrow beams; or they can be fastened underneath by pins or adhesive. Laying on top will be easy until you are faced with the last sheet which will have to be cut with more than usual care to ensure accurate dimensions, and then inserted in the gap between the cross battens and pushed this way and that into position.
To obviate the risk of the cross battens sagging where there is an extra wide span, cut holes in the old ceiling at intervals. Lift the appropriate floorboards above, pass a metal bracket through and strap the battens to the joists. This can readily be achieved when the sheathing is attached to the bottom edges of the battens (C—b). Sheathing laid on top will necessitate twisting the brackets so that they can be screwed on top (D—c).
Joins between sheathing sheets laid on top of the cross battens will be hidden by the battens. If the sheets are fastened from underneath, a more elegant way than filling the joins with plaster is to pin on plastic or wooden cover strips. Leave about 3 mm (+ in) between each sheet to allow for movement.