Here at 5KC we spend a great deal of time renovating and refurbishing older style properties. We love this type of work as some of the older properties are very grand and have lots of character in them.
Older properties however, inherit a list of natural defects and just one of those defects is sloping or uneven ceilings. It’s very common in older houses to see ‘wonky’ ceilings but fortunately with a little tweaking here and there, it is not so difficult to get them looking nice and level again.
There are a few methods of straightening up ceilings but one of the easiest ways is to add on new joists to the existing ceiling joists by simply screwing them to the side. If you wanted to you could do this with 3 x 1 timber but for an even better job and a straighter ceiling, you could use metal studs. They are relatively cheap to buy and are very straight with no bowing or ‘bananas’ in them.
First thing you will want to do is establish a straight and level line around the perimeter of the ceiling. Make your reference points about an inch or so under the lowest point of the ceiling. You can do this with a standard spirit level but for higher accuracy I would recommend either a laser or rotary level, or even a water level. Once you have your reference points either draw or snap a chalk line so that you have your datum to work to.
First of all screw timber to the perimeter of the ceiling to the new level line that you have. I have known builders to also use metal stud for the perimeter but I feel timber offers greater reinforcement for this purpose.
Now fix two string lines up. Fix one string line to the bottom of one of the perimeter timbers you have fixed to the wall, and at right angles to the existing joists, and fix the other string line to the other end of the perimeter timber on the wall and also at right angles to the existing joists.
You now have two level lines to work to and all you need to do is screw the new stud to the old ceiling joists and ensure they are level as your doing this by checking that the studs slightly touch each end of the string lines. Remember, the string lines will run at right angles to the existing ceiling joists so when you add the new studs, they will run parallel to the existing joists and should be screwed with 40 or 50 mm screws.
This method works well for when you have stripped the ceiling right back, I.E, taken off all the old plaster etc. There may be times when this is not practical and in that case it is possible to build a new independent framework directly underneath the ceiling. This will lower the ceiling slightly and you should also be sure that the existing ceiling above is secure and not coming away, else you could have bits falling down and damaging the newer ceiling beneath. Building a separate framework is quite common where ceilings are just too high and it is more cost effective to have lowered ceilings and save on fuel costs etc.
All you have to do now is plate the new ceiling and skim it up nicely.