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Common household remedies request

I've got to take down a cheesy wallboard-type bathroom ceiling that's had its day due to moisture. There are no moldings, and I don't want to spend any money on new moldings.

What's the best way to get a clean cut at the join between ceiling and (cheesy wallboard-type) wall?

My thought was to use a one of those retractable knives with a good sharp blade, and run it against a big metal ruler placed flush to the ceiling.

Also, work from the edges in, or the center out?

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TheMomCat's picture
Submitted by TheMomCat on

We did this in the bathrooms & kitchens of a 100 year old house. Use a pattern that looked like a old tin ceiling. It made access to wiring & pipes easy. It gave a nice clean line along the wall/ceiling line

Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

Then the existing joint is paper tape that was covered with 'mud', joint compound plaster.

A utility knife and straight-edge will do it. Go at 45 degrees to the wall and take your time. Use a mask and goggles because the 'mud' or plaster they used in old houses was really caustic and the dust is superfine, so you don't want to breathe it.

If you are lucky, the walls will be uncut sheets that will give you a nice straight line.

I would take a small square out of the ceiling near a wall to see if I could determine what the joint looks like from the back side. It should tell you which was put up first - the ceiling or the walls. Finishing is easier if the ceiling goes in first, then the top of the wall is used uncut to provide a clean, straight line at the joint. If you put up the walls first, you generally need molding to straighten the edge because of sag from the ceiling.

Submitted by lambert on

45 degrees to the wall! Perfect!

This stuff really is super-old, who knows what the contruction is like.

Everything else is in place, and a real contractor will put in the ceiling; I get a better price if I do this shitwork myself.

Submitted by Lex on

You mean gypsum drywall?

Agree with above about cutting with a utility knife along the joint. If you're replacing it with more drywall, you'll be taping and mudding it anyhow so imperfection is not big deal.

They make drywall cutter hand tools as well as hand drywall saws for removing the rest, installing the new stuff and making the necessary cuts.

Also, keep in mind that with the age you're talking about, it is highly likely that the tape and mud you'll be cutting through contains asbestos. A utility knife will make the least dust and that's a plus. The only other things you can do to minimize your exposure are to wet the area as you work to knock the dust down and/or create negative air pressure in the room. (strong fan in window blowing out, close the door, etc.)

Don't even bother with the disposable dust mask. They offer almost no protection against fines and zero against asbestos fibers. You may be able to find a disposable one with a P-100/HEPA rating that will do some good, but they don't seal to the face so it's not very good protection.

Now that i'm done scaring you, a single, relatively low level punctuated exposure is probably not going to kill you. If you get asbestosis from this, you'll never even notice a handful of pea-sized scars in your lungs. If you're the type that will get mesothelioma, this kind of exposure is enough to theoretically kill you ... but the mathematical odds are generally on your side.

/industrial hygienist