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Welcome to the Paint & Plaster Section: How to remove ceiling tiles
Ceiling Tiles - how to remove polystyrene ceiling tiles
Minimal skill level: Removing ceiling tiles is not a highly skilled job. If you take your time its usually not too difficult or strenuous, but it will provide a work out for your arms and shoulders, it can give you a bit of a crick in the neck!
  It is often the case that polystyrene ceiling tiles were originally installed to cover up damaged ceilings. So expect to find cracks, holes, water damage, bulges and so on, all of which will need to be addressed.
  Remove furniture from the room and cover floor with tarpaulin. Begin on a test area. Set the ladder in the least prominent corner of the ceiling/room. Using the scraper carefully start remove the ceiling tile keeping the scraper at a shallow angle to the ceiling (making it less likely to dig into the plasterwork). A scraper with a fairly dull blade is less likely to gouge into your plaster.

Continue to scrape the tiles from the ceiling, being careful not to dig the scraper into the surface of the plasterwork or ram it into any cracks.


Once the ceiling tiles have been removed, you can remove any glue residue or bits of previous coverings using the wallpaper steamer and scraper. NOTE: Since glue removal dosen't photograph very well, to illustrate this technique we are showing the removal of artex, which is exactly the same process.

  To make your life easier (and reduce those blasts of steamy water to the face moments) you may want to create a makeshift floor support for your steamer. Here we use length of scrap 1"x2" wood, a bit of copper tube and a couple of hose clamps, which enables us to wedge the steamer head in place, freeing up our hands for a) scraping and b) ladder holding!
  Go easy on the old plaster ceiling and use just enough steam to soften the glue for removal.

Assess the condition of ceiling: If you are lucky your ceiling will be in good condition but usually you'll find the old ceiling will require some work.

1. Ceiling in GOOD condition with minor cracks and holes: Apply 'plaster repair' or 'filler' and sand smooth, then apply the covering (i.e. lining paper, paint…)

2. Ceiling in 'OK' condition: sizable cracks and a few repairs needed: have plaster reskimmed (you may want to have a professional plasterer in for this)

3. Ceiling in POOR condition: possibly large cracks or signs that sections of lath & plaster have pulled away from the ceiling (possibly indicating nails holding lath & plaster have rotted away). It might be best to replace ceiling. Removing old lath & plaster ceilings is not difficult but soot goes everywhere - messy stuff.


Other features:

How to put lining paper on a ceiling

Installing a new plasterboard ceiling

A good quality scraper or 'putty knife' type scraper, sturdy step ladder (or ideally a work platform), a tarpaulin (protect your floors), and in most cases you'll need a wall paper steamer to remove the old glue residue.
  © 2006