Summary: Learn how to remove a lath and plaster ceiling.
A traditional lath and plaster ceiling comprises of lengths of timber battens (laths) nailed to the timber joists, creating the foundation structure of the ceiling. Plaster is then applied over the laths to form the ceiling. If you have a lath and plaster ceiling that is in poor condition, then it may be worth considering replacing it with a plasterboard ceiling. If the plaster key or bonding element has failed, it is likely to fail again in other places. Removing a lath and plaster ceiling requires preparation, safety gear and a clear room below, as the amount of dust created is considerable.
- Firstly, clear the room of all furniture, carpet and its underlay.
- It is a good idea to remove any lights too. Turn off the electricity supply at the mains.
- Undo the light fittings and put the cable conductors into plastic terminal blocks. Then push the whole cable up into the ceiling space.
- Cover the entire floor with dustsheets and make sure you wear safety goggles, a respiratory mask and a hat of some kind. You will also want to wear old clothes, possibly garments that can be disposed of afterwards.
- Set up a platform from which you can reach the ceiling easily without over stretching. This can be achieved using a scaffold board spanning two stepladders on which you should be able to stand.
- You also need to tape around the edges of the door to stop the dust spreading outside of the room and open the windows to allow fresh air in and dust to escape.
- The ceiling is most effectively pulled down from below, as this enables you to control the debris more easily. Try to keep the rubble to one corner of the room as you work.
- Start the demolition process by making a hole in the ceiling with a claw hammer and rip the plaster and laths out, working parallel with the joists as you go.
- Once you have finished removing as much of the ceiling as you can, work along each joist removing the remaining pieces of lath that may be nailed to the joists.
- Finish the job by brushing each joist down with a stiff brush just to clear any remaining dust and debris.
- Claw hammer
- Stiff brush
- Plastic terminal blocks