False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

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BladeRunner
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Joined: Sun 10th May, 2020 12:58 pm

False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by BladeRunner » Thu 31st Dec, 2020 4:09 pm

Hi all, long time lurker here, but first time posting.

I wanted to pick everyone's brains about a dilemma I face. I need to re-wire my Victorian terraced house and the electrician has said that because our loft has been boarded out (by the previous owner) to become a room, we may need to bring down the lath and plaster ceilings in two of the bedrooms beneath it in order to gain access to the wiring for the lights.

The ceilings are smooth but I can see a faint fan pattern so I think they're Artex ceilings that have been skimmed over at some point.

Obviously I would get the ceilings tested before taking any action, but I am trying to think through my options because I really want to avoid bringing down the ceilings if at all possible, especially if they contain asbestos (I have called a few asbestos companies and the price is likely to run into multiple thousands to get them removed safely).

One idea I had is that I could get a plasterer to create a false ceiling using battens fixed to the walls a couple of inches below, with beams running across, then get them plasterboarded and skimmed to hide the cabling. In theory, this should look like any other ceiling - right?

Is this something that sounds doable/advisable?

Grateful for any advice!

CliffordPope
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Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by CliffordPope » Fri 1st Jan, 2021 8:35 am

Wouldn't it be easier to lift the boards in the floor above? Once you've lifted a few you can get a light inside and then see where the cables run?

a twig
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Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by a twig » Fri 1st Jan, 2021 1:36 pm

CliffordPope wrote:
Fri 1st Jan, 2021 8:35 am
Wouldn't it be easier to lift the boards in the floor above? Once you've lifted a few you can get a light inside and then see where the cables run?
This - tis what I did in a similar situation at our place, if it's boards rather than planks some careful plunge cutting should work to create access "hatches"

BladeRunner
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Joined: Sun 10th May, 2020 12:58 pm

Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by BladeRunner » Fri 1st Jan, 2021 2:29 pm

Thanks for the tips, yes this is what I had always presumed the electrician would do.

I'm not sure if perhaps my electrician is being a tad over cautious (I'd rather that than have a reckless cowboy!). He said that taking up the floor in the loft could be "tempting fate", structurally speaking, which is a little alarming. This did surprise me as I didn't think a floor covering would tend to play a structural support role, and in terms of the structural joists or RSJs, one would imagine that they would have gaps between them as opposed to being sat flush against each other! I know very little about this kind of stuff though unfortunately.

Bringing down the bedrooms ceilings does seem like an extremely drastic solution, and given the cost (around £4k I believe) of possibly having to get the pros in to safely remove the asbestos-containing Artex ceilings, an extremely expensive solution!

LadyArowana
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Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by LadyArowana » Fri 1st Jan, 2021 4:04 pm

We’ve just had our whole house rewired [ Georgian 1767 GII ] and at no point was it ever suggested that we needed to remove old ceilings. Where necessary, for example the installation of new central fittings to replace wall sconces, boards above were lifted. If your ceilings are basically in good shape it would be a shame to get rid of them, are you sure it isn’t a question of someone “finding” extra work?

Feltwell
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Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by Feltwell » Sat 2nd Jan, 2021 12:11 am

Without seeing the house I don't think anyone can say with absolute certainty, but taking ceilings down sounds extreme. As others have said, if the boards above cannot be lifted then strategic access holes either in the boards above or in the ceilings below usually enable cables to be ran, with the help of a set of cable rods.

I'm surprised a sparky would even suggest taking ceilings down to be honest. Running lighting cables is not hard, they're quite thin and flexible. What's to stop boards being lifted in the rooms above? Or, if it's chipboard or plywood flooring that's down, access hole cutters work well - you cut a shaped hole with one of these:-

https://www.screwfix.com/p/erbauer-soli ... stid=52488

You'll need an arbor as well, depending on what drill type you use.

Then plug the hole afterwards with these:-

https://www.screwfix.com/p/erbauer-arme ... lsrc=aw.ds

Artex does not necessarily contain asbestos. Your idea of a new false ceiling is perfectly doable but sounds very OTT to me compared to creating access points.

BladeRunner
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Joined: Sun 10th May, 2020 12:58 pm

Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by BladeRunner » Sat 2nd Jan, 2021 1:11 pm

Thanks for the useful replies, I did think I replied earlier but it doesn't seem to have appeared (unless it's being moderated!).

I would normally be highly skeptical of something like this but this particular electrician is definitely honest and always seems very by the book, but as others have said, taking the ceilings down does seem to be on the extreme end of extreme, especially as the ceilings appear to be in perfect condition.

The loft has in fact been 'converted' (unofficially) into a loft room by the previous owner so the inner sides of the roof have been plastered and there is laminate flooring. The electrician's exact words were that taking the floor up to gain access from above "could be tempting fate", structurally speaking, which as you can imagine I found quite alarming! But while I'm not very knowledgeable in this area it does seem strange to me that the loft floor covering would play a structural role in keeping the house together, or that the joists/RSJs below the floor covering would be so tightly packed together that cables couldn't be run through to the ceiling below.

I am having a builder over on Tuesday to quote for some other work so I might take the opportunity to get his opinion, but thank you everyone who has replied so far - I think I have more options to explore now which will hopefully allow me to avoid taking them down!

Feltwell
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Location: Shropshire, England

Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by Feltwell » Sun 3rd Jan, 2021 9:12 pm

Another reason not to take old ceilings down - it is the filthiest job imaginable! 100+years of accumulated crud descends onto you & into your house.

I'm in the midst of taking a wall down between 2 rooms, to get the new supporting beam in yesterday I had to remove a 6" wide, 5 foot long strip of original lath & plaster ceiling. Honestly, afterwards I looked like one of those old pictures of miners coming off shift at a coal mine! It was far worse than taking the wall down, that was just dusty, this was black and filthy, like having soot sprinkled liberally on you!

If your attic rooms have not been converted properly then what you'd likely find underneath the flooring is the original structure that was only ever designed to keep the ceilings below up, not as a habitable floor. It doesn't mean it's necessarily dangerous, it means that it's only really good enough for storage purposes and occasional access, rather the loadings that a bedroom could have.

YorkshireCottage
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Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by YorkshireCottage » Sun 3rd Jan, 2021 10:14 pm

BladeRunner wrote:
Sat 2nd Jan, 2021 1:11 pm


... taking the floor up to gain access from above "could be tempting fate", structurally speaking,
I wonder if he means that taking up the floor might highlight that the conversion hasn't been done properly, or that there are problems with the joists - ie tempting fate by bringing to light extra work that would need to be done?

a twig
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Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by a twig » Sun 3rd Jan, 2021 10:36 pm

Feltwell wrote:
Sun 3rd Jan, 2021 9:12 pm
rather the loadings that a bedroom could have.
:twisted: fnarr fnarr

Feltwell
Posts: 5760
Joined: Sun 18th May, 2008 7:28 pm
Location: Shropshire, England

Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by Feltwell » Sun 3rd Jan, 2021 10:43 pm

.

LadyArowana
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Re: False ceiling to avoid bringing down Artex ceilings?

Post by LadyArowana » Tue 5th Jan, 2021 5:36 pm

BladeRunner wrote:
Sat 2nd Jan, 2021 1:11 pm

The loft has in fact been 'converted' (unofficially) into a loft room by the previous owner so the inner sides of the roof have been plastered and there is laminate flooring. The electrician's exact words were that taking the floor up to gain access from above "could be tempting fate", structurally speaking, which as you can imagine I found quite alarming! But while I'm not very knowledgeable in this area it does seem strange to me that the loft floor covering would play a structural role in keeping the house together, or that the joists/RSJs below the floor covering would be so tightly packed together that cables couldn't be run through to the ceiling below.
If it’s just cheap laminate it will probably only be a thin layer. I’ve looked at samples for inside a small “plant room” myself and I cannot imagine how it could serve a structural purpose. It’s interesting he isn’t concerned about removing a thin layer of ceiling on the other side. I would want to find out one way or the other on the laminate, and if it was doing something important then it would be best to know and maybe plan a better fix for that problem.

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