Repairing a ceiling seems to be one of the main tasks out there these days! ( See also our project on repairing holes in plasterboard walls) The method below can be used for inserting a new timber for screwing a light fitting to, or perhaps its because more and more people are looking at converting the loft or simply that we all have too much junk we need to store it in the loft but it seems about 50 people every week are putting a least one of their feet through the bedroom ceiling. The frustrating thing about repairing a ceiling, be it plasterboard or lath and plaster, you always have to make the hole bigger before you can repair it.
The very first thing to do is to check the immediate area for cables and pipes. Its no good hammering and sawing away to mend a ceiling if you are going to cause a short circuit or leak in the meantime. Use the kind of hand held metal detector we have in the tool store to the right of this page. This will not only show you where pipes and cables may be buried but it will locate the exact position of the joists for you.
To insert a new piece of plasterboard into a ceiling it's important to cut the existing ceiling back to the nearest joist. If this is too difficult an easier way is to insert a timber noggin above the place where the new joint will be. The existing ceiling needs to be cut off square first and the edge of the existing ceiling, together with the edge of the new plasterboard, need to meet in the centre of the joist or new noggin. You can then be sure the joint is stable and will not
crack when the new skim plaster is applied. If the hole you have made is quite small, look to the left of this page for our projects on repairing holes in plasterboard and repairing lath and plaster. You will also see a project on skim plastering. The images show what to do to repair a fairly large hole in a ceiling.
In the top image you can see the hole is being widened to find the joists. In this instance the hole was made specifically to insert a timber for screwing a new light fitting onto. The same method would be used to mend a hole. Widen the hole until you have found the next joist and cut the existing ceiling off square to it and in the centre of it. Now screw (do not nail) the existing ceiling to that joist.
The right hand image shows we have inserted a noggin under the joint in the new plasterboard. This was to enable us to put in a "last minute" light fitting for the client. The same process can be used for mending a hole. Just make sure any new timbers are directly over the joint so you can screw both sides of the joint to the timber.