Insulating Ceilings

Ceilings can be insulated (to a degree only) with cork or by applying an anti-condensation paint which not only warms the surface but absorbs what moisture there is — and this absorbed moisture will evaporate when conditions are more favourable.

The property of absorption, though supplying an immediate remedy, has the disadvantage that the coating is always alternately wetting and drying, which is not too good from the standpoint of durability.

On the other hand, polystyrene, in the form of sheeting or tiles, relies mostly on its insulating powers. But even this material has a drawback in that there is a fire risk. Some polystyrene tiles are flame-retarding. But this does not mean that they are fireproof. Intense heat will cause them to melt and fall — possibly to ignite a wooden floor underneath. ‘Flame-retarding’ means that the material will delay the progress of conflagration, hopefully until the fire brigade gets round. Even then, it is better not to have polystyrene immediately over a cooking stove where fatty pans may catch alight. Leave this part bare, painting it in another colour with a flame-retarding emulsion paint. This change will not look odd.

Insulating Ceilings

For further safety, the adhesive recommended by the manufacturers should be applied all over the back of each tile when it is stuck on and not just in blobs.

Polystyrene tiles may be obtained in various colours and attractive relief patterns. They can be washed and even lightly scrubbed with a soft nail brush using a very little detergent. Cleaning is made easier if they are painted — (though obviously not tiles with coloured patterns or the pattern will be hidden). Some tiles are treated with a chemical for repelling dust.

Oil paint will disrupt polystyrene if it is applied direct, so it needs an undercoating of emulsion to form a barrier. Such an added and off-putting extra chore is a blessing because the use of an oil paint would increase the fire risk. And so a flame-retarding emulsion paint on its own is safer.

Any paint on polystyrene sheeting will leave a bumpy effect because the coating follows the unevenness underneath. To achieve a smooth finish, stick on lining paper and emulsion paint over that.

Deadening Sound

The study of structural stresses and strains necessitated by gigantic increases in the cost of materials has resulted in timber sizes being employed that are just strong enough for the purpose for which they are intended — with very little margin over.

Deadening sound from above depends largely upon the density of the building material used and joists used to be twice the thickness of those now employed. No wonder some modern flats with wooden floors are noisier than converted houses built in the last century!

The annoyance of noise from an upstairs room can be decreased by the use of a thick underlay under the carpet on the floor of the room above and by the use of acoustic tiles on the ceiling.

A bigger but more efficient job would be achieved by lifting the floorboards in the room above and inserting insulating material between the joists. This would take care of pattern staining at the same time. Make sure there are no cracks or holes in the ceiling because sound flows like water through the smallest fissure.

Sound within a room can be decreased with acoustic tiles. A liquid acoustic materialfor spraying on a ceiling is also obtainable.

Other Forms of Ceiling Decoration

Defects in an old ceiling that is otherwise firmly adhering can be hidden by applying a plastic textured paintwhich is manipulated while wet into all kinds of relief designs. Some of these paints are self-coloured and others plain. The plain ones may be left that way or painted, picking out the high points in another colour, if desired.

As full application instructions for textured paints are given by the manufacturers there is no need to repeat them here.

Among other coverings are attractive ceiling papers, vinyls and Anaglypta.Handling such materials is not easy because you will be working above your head, grasping the paper in one hand, a smoothing brush in the other and holding on to the steps with — nothing! Self-adhesive coverings are a help.