Types of Ceiling construction

Lath and plaster. Laths (battens) are nailed to ceiling joists at intervals. Plaster containing hair to bind it is pressed up and keyed into place between laths. A final skim of plaster is applied.

Plasterboard. There are various types in combinations of plaster, fibre, heavy paper, some with aluminium backing. The board is nailed to the joists with large-headed, rust-proof nails. Gaps are taped over and a final skim of plaster or stippled plastic paint is added. Plasterboard transmits sound more than lath and plaster does. Concrete. Plaster is applied direct to concrete.

Ceiling tiles

Expanded polystyrene tiles, up to 2 ft (60 cm) square in plain, coloured or textured finishes, hide cracks and stains, reduce condensation, improve thermal insulation. Before tiling, rub a gloss or eggshell surface with coarse glasspaper to provide a key. If the plaster is bare, size it. Use special adhesive and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Acoustic tiles are made from fibre building board in various patterns, textures and finishes. They are usually 12 in. (30 cm) square and tongued and grooved. Use special adhesive and acoustic tile cement. Decoration ideas. Cut out motifs from the wallpaper and stick these to tiles at random to give the ceiling of the room visual interest. In a child’s room, stick or stencil a motif on the tiles bordering the ceiling or on every other tile to produce a chequered effect.

Ceiling panels

Wood panelling is available as made-up panels which interlock.

1. To the ceiling fix battens at intervals and at ceiling edges.

2. Use panel pins along all panel edges and in intermediate grooves.

3. Punch in nail heads and fill with proprietary filler. Tongue and groove boarding. Comes in plank form. Allow for tongue and groove when estimating quantities (e.g. a 6 in (15 cm) board will cover only 5 ¼ in. (13 cm).

1. Strip ceiling of plaster.

2. If planks are to run the same way as joists, fix battens at ‘right angles to joists.

3. Use 1 in. (2.5 cm) panel pins and nail at an angle through the tongue every 12 in. (30 cm) and every 6 in. (15 cm) at edges. Hardboard and insulating board is available in various finishes: enamelled, woodgrain-printed, plastic-faced, embossed, acoustic. In general, follow the method for wood panelling.

Lowering a ceiling

Consider lowering a high ceiling if the

room is difficult to heat or looks out of


1. Screw battens into ceiling joists, using 3m. (7.5 cm) screws at 2 in. (5 cm) intervals.

2. Make a framework of cross-battens at not more than 2 ft (60 cm) intervals.

3. Suspend a lower framework at required depth from ceiling battening

4. Screw plasterboard, hardboard or acoustic board to lower frame.


Ready-made mouldings are available in anaglypta, plastic, plaster and wood. Stick on all mouldings with the adhesive recommended. Pin anaglypta mouldings with panel pins while the adhesive is drying.

Decoration ideas. You can use a moulded ceiling centre to disguise the hole where a light fitting has been removed. You can build up a “relief” ceiling by applying mouldings in a scroll pattern.

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