House Excavations, green border
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The Ceiling Plaster Is Down

Posting a little late today. That’s because I spent the entire day taking plaster off the ceiling in our dining room. Whew, what a dirty job!

I did not take a “before” picture (just imagine an expanse of white plaster), but here are some “after” photos.

Ceiling devoid of plaster but still covered in lath, northwest corner of Warner house. May 1, 2022.
Ceiling devoid of plaster but still covered in lath, northwest corner of Warner house. May 1, 2022.
Ceiling devoid of plaster but still covered in lath, southeast corner of dining room in Warner house. May 1, 2022.
Ceiling devoid of plaster but still covered in lath, southeast corner of dining room in Warner house. May 1, 2022.
The big ol' pile of ceiling plaster on the floor of the dining room in the Warner house. May 1, 2022.
The big ol’ pile of ceiling plaster on the floor of the dining room in the Warner house. May 1, 2022.

While tearing plaster off the walls was messy, it wasn’t as messy as we expected. The ceiling was another thing altogether. The dirt and debris sifting down through the lath as I pounded on the plaster was miserable. Grit kept getting in my eyes and coating my safety glasses and regular glasses. I’d have to periodically wash my face and glasses and squirt saline solution into my eyes.

Here’s what I looked like at the end of the work.

Mary Warner in dirty mask, shirt, and headkerchief after tearing plaster off the dining room ceiling. May 1, 2022.
Mary Warner in dirty mask, shirt, and headkerchief after tearing plaster off the dining room ceiling. May 1, 2022.

See that gray mask? It’s supposed to be white. The gray shirt? It’s black. The gray headkerchief? It’s pink.

A shower felt marvelous after this.

As we’ve been removing the plaster and lath, we’ve been pulling out the surprises we find within the wall cavities. The kids shared the bedroom above the dining room for a while, until we put an addition on the house that created enough bedrooms for everyone. Because we hadn’t put trim around the base of the wall in the upstairs bedroom (still haven’t – it’s on our to-do list), little things slipped into the crack between the wall and floor and ended up in the dining room walls. Eldest Son suspected there would be a lot of Legos in the walls because our cat, Inky, liked to bat them around.

Thus far, we’ve only found two Legos among the many random items within the wall cavities. There were lots of pens/pencils/markers, a ruler, a paper bag puppet, a toy figurine, a playing card, a cat toy, scissors, a popsicle stick creation, a sock, a ceramic tube from knob-and-tube wiring, and a to-do list I had written (complete with “tooth fairy” as one item).

One item in this box (photo below) dropped out of the ceiling, almost on top of me. I didn’t see what it was until I started picking up the pile of plaster on the floor. It was a metal file. Because it was in part of the ceiling that wasn’t near a wall, it had to have been in the ceiling from when it was originally plastered.

Box of random items pulled out of the wall cavities in the dining room of the Warner house. May 1, 2022.
Box of random items pulled out of the wall cavities in the dining room of the Warner house. May 1, 2022.

Using the ruler we had found in the wall, we measured a couple of the planks of wood that are part of the sheathing of the exterior wall. One of the planks is just about 12 inches wide. Another is just over 11 inches wide.

My husband holding up the ruler to measure an exterior wall plank in the dining room. April 24, 2022.
My husband holding up the ruler to measure an exterior wall plank in the dining room. April 24, 2022.

Here’s a close-up view of the ruler against the plank.

Close-up of my husband's hands holding the ruler up against the almost-12-inch exterior plank. April 24, 2022.
Close-up of my husband’s hands holding the ruler up against the almost-12-inch exterior plank. April 24, 2022.

When we remodeled the upstairs bathroom years ago, we measured one of the exterior planks and found it to be 24 inches wide. Can you imagine the tree that came from? These planks are all sturdy and dry, with no evidence of any mold. The wood in these old houses (ours was built in 1894) is amazing.

I’m pleased with the progress I made today. We’ve only got the construction dumpster for 3 weeks and today is the end of week 2. I think we can manage to remove the rest of the lath in the next week and move on to calling the electrician. Crossing my fingers!

4 thoughts on “The Ceiling Plaster Is Down”

  1. I was taking down a ceiling in an 1880s kitchen. I spied treasure; a leather purse! When I picked up my new find, I saw, alas, that I wasn’t holding a leather purse. Just a very very old, very very flat rat.

  2. We’ve had a ceiling taken down for us, so know about the mess! Really glad we did it though, because the resulting ceiling is so much better (than with the ceilings where we just skimmed over). Kudos to you for doing it yourself!

  3. I love the ceilings in the rest of the house, Clare. We took most of those down ourselves almost 2 decades ago now. Will be very glad when this room is all done!

Thoughtful comments welcome.