How To Remove Plaster Detailing On Ceiling — Good Questions Apartment Therapy

How To Remove Plaster Detailing On Ceiling — Good Questions Apartment Therapy

How To Remove Plaster Detailing On Ceiling?

Q: I’ve been trying to figure out what this plaster technique is called on the ceiling so I can figure out how to get rid of it. It sure looks like whoever did it put in a lot of work, but it’s really too tacky for us and we would rather just have a smooth ceiling. Is fixing this something we can do ourselves or should we just leave it up to the pros?

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36 Comments

It could be authentic, turn-of-the-century decorative molding, in which case DONT DESTROY IT. It is unique and historic and timeless. I would have a plasterer check it out (not a dry-waller!) or send a photo to an expert. Our molding added significant value to our house, believe it or not. Many people in our hood drywalled over their molding and are regretting it bigtime.

Wow, it’s lovely! Tacky doesn’t seem like the right word, even if you don’t like it. Not sure what the detailing is called though.

This is not a «Good Question». This is tragic.

I don’t think Ann is talking about the molding around the fan at all—it’s the swirly pattern on the ceiling itself.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to fix that up.

I am guessing the question is about the ceiling itself and not the medalion. My house has the same stuff. It’s plaster hand troweled over the ceiling. It was done in the 40s and 50s in lots of older homes. While I do not agree that it is «tacky» I can understand the desire for simpler, cleaner ceilings. There’s no easy fix. In some homes, it was done to cover old, dated wall paper on the ceilings (this is the case in my house). If you are lucky, you can discover if this is the case, and try taking down the paper. It’s a messy and time consuming (and back breaking) process. It can be skim coated over, but there is no guarantee that it will turn out flat and smooth. Finding someone talented and honest enough to do it at a reasonable cost is challenging to say the least.

I think we are looking at two things. The ceiling itself (swirled texture) and the medallion around the fan.

If the medallion is plaster, I’d preserve it. If it’s plastic, up to you.

The texture on the ceiling is the forerunner of popcorn. I don’t know for certain, but always assumed it was both decorative and a way to minimize the need for perfection — lots of old ceilings aren’t going to be absolutely flat.

This look can be done with real plaster or with drywall compound. (Maybe even with thick paint, not so sure about that. ) You can probably sand it smooth with an orbital sander (after taping and protecting the rest of the house with plastic sheeting, of course) but I’d research more first. (You might even ask a real estate agent whether that feature is a keeper in a vintage home. )

I would be careful, some of that ceiling stuff had asbestos in it prior to 1980. Here is a link detailing the process of how someone else removed their testured ceilings:

www.homeenvy.com/db/4/914.html

Looks like artex plastering to me, very common over here in the UK. Having had a peek on Google, it looks like there are a few DIY products out there that you could try.

the ceiling looks good to me, the problem is the modern ceiling fan is a total mismatch. Do you need a fan in the room? a chandelier, even a $20 craigslist find spray painted a modern color, would look 10x better. school house electric also has plenty of lights that wood look great with that. replacing the light/fan will likely be a lot cheaper than paying someone to smooth the ceiling.

@cm — I don’t believe it is turn of the century decorative molding because you can still see drywaller «artistry» in 1970 and 1980 homes who wanted a little extra flair instead of cottage cheese ceilings. Also, she doesn’t say it’s an old house. Check out Lowe’s and Home Depot and you can still buy the drywall brushes that create this using drywall mud. Very time-consuming and messy to remove yourself so I would hire a professional to smooth out your ceilings.

Tacky? ;_; No no no.

Realistically, to get a good result, you need to use drywall. If it’s possible, on top of the plaster. If not, then the ceiling would have to come down. There is some crown molding barely visible in the image. If that and the medallion are also plaster, it is a shame someone plastered the field in that modern swirl. If they are fypon pieces, then no problem. Have you thought about paint to minimize the look? Just painting that ceiling the same color as the walls (unless it’s very dark) could go a long way towards making it less noticeable. It goes without saying that you should have a professional evaluate for asbestos before you do a single thing. You may not have as many options as you think.

Oh what a shame, that ceiling is lovely! I can see that the medallian around the fan (not to mention the fan itself) doesn’t really match.

oh dear god that swirly ceiling stuff is awful. good luck on your endeavor.

That texture was typically applied to cover imperfections in the ceiling. I wouldn’t have it torn out. My parents house has this in all of the bedrooms. One ceiling needed some repair (electrical) and rather than trying to match it, they had a plaster texture sprayed on top of it after a light sanding. Not popcorn type texture, much more smooth in overall appearance.

That swirled plaster business was really popular in the ’60s (um, that’s 1960s, not 1860s!), and it’s totally incongruous with the Victorian-style moldings I see in the distance. I can’t tell if the medallion is plaster or a resin/plastic repro, but again, it’s not the same style as the textured ceiling.

To each his or her own, but I think these swirled ceilings are horrible — on the same level as popcorn ceilings, and I understand completely why Ann wants to get rid of hers! They were put up to hide cracks, repairs, and other imperfections without having to use (and pay for) a skilled plasterer.

In order to avoid damaging the moldings (assuming they are plaster/original), I would recommend having the highest points of the swirls sanded down, and then getting a REALLY skilled plasterer to go over the whole thing and give you a smooth surface. You could cover it with drywall, but then you’ll lose the profile of your moldings (which, if they’re synthetic repros, might be just fine).

One VERY important thing to keep in mind: Depending on the age of the textured plaster, it COULD contain asbestos. You definitely do NOT want to be sanding or otherwise abrading anything with asbestos in it. Whatever you do, I strongly advise you to get the material tested for asbestos content before removing it.

I have a swirly ceiling and would love to get rid of it. I looked at videos on youtube a little while ago and it looks like vinegar and water will make it come off without a ton of scraping.

I have not done mine yet, because, even though I hate it, there are bigger fish to fry in my 1969 condo.

How To Remove Plaster Detailing On Ceiling?

Q: I’ve been trying to figure out what this plaster technique is called on the ceiling so I can figure out how to get rid of it. It sure looks like whoever did it put in a lot of work, but it’s really too tacky for us and we would rather just have a smooth ceiling. Is fixing this something we can do ourselves or should we just leave it up to the pros?

Categories

36 Comments

It could be authentic, turn-of-the-century decorative molding, in which case DONT DESTROY IT. It is unique and historic and timeless. I would have a plasterer check it out (not a dry-waller!) or send a photo to an expert. Our molding added significant value to our house, believe it or not. Many people in our hood drywalled over their molding and are regretting it bigtime.

Wow, it’s lovely! Tacky doesn’t seem like the right word, even if you don’t like it. Not sure what the detailing is called though.

This is not a «Good Question». This is tragic.

I don’t think Ann is talking about the molding around the fan at all—it’s the swirly pattern on the ceiling itself.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to fix that up.

I am guessing the question is about the ceiling itself and not the medalion. My house has the same stuff. It’s plaster hand troweled over the ceiling. It was done in the 40s and 50s in lots of older homes. While I do not agree that it is «tacky» I can understand the desire for simpler, cleaner ceilings. There’s no easy fix. In some homes, it was done to cover old, dated wall paper on the ceilings (this is the case in my house). If you are lucky, you can discover if this is the case, and try taking down the paper. It’s a messy and time consuming (and back breaking) process. It can be skim coated over, but there is no guarantee that it will turn out flat and smooth. Finding someone talented and honest enough to do it at a reasonable cost is challenging to say the least.

I think we are looking at two things. The ceiling itself (swirled texture) and the medallion around the fan.

If the medallion is plaster, I’d preserve it. If it’s plastic, up to you.

The texture on the ceiling is the forerunner of popcorn. I don’t know for certain, but always assumed it was both decorative and a way to minimize the need for perfection — lots of old ceilings aren’t going to be absolutely flat.

This look can be done with real plaster or with drywall compound. (Maybe even with thick paint, not so sure about that. ) You can probably sand it smooth with an orbital sander (after taping and protecting the rest of the house with plastic sheeting, of course) but I’d research more first. (You might even ask a real estate agent whether that feature is a keeper in a vintage home. )

I would be careful, some of that ceiling stuff had asbestos in it prior to 1980. Here is a link detailing the process of how someone else removed their testured ceilings:

www.homeenvy.com/db/4/914.html

Looks like artex plastering to me, very common over here in the UK. Having had a peek on Google, it looks like there are a few DIY products out there that you could try.

the ceiling looks good to me, the problem is the modern ceiling fan is a total mismatch. Do you need a fan in the room? a chandelier, even a $20 craigslist find spray painted a modern color, would look 10x better. school house electric also has plenty of lights that wood look great with that. replacing the light/fan will likely be a lot cheaper than paying someone to smooth the ceiling.

@cm — I don’t believe it is turn of the century decorative molding because you can still see drywaller «artistry» in 1970 and 1980 homes who wanted a little extra flair instead of cottage cheese ceilings. Also, she doesn’t say it’s an old house. Check out Lowe’s and Home Depot and you can still buy the drywall brushes that create this using drywall mud. Very time-consuming and messy to remove yourself so I would hire a professional to smooth out your ceilings.

Tacky? ;_; No no no.

Realistically, to get a good result, you need to use drywall. If it’s possible, on top of the plaster. If not, then the ceiling would have to come down. There is some crown molding barely visible in the image. If that and the medallion are also plaster, it is a shame someone plastered the field in that modern swirl. If they are fypon pieces, then no problem. Have you thought about paint to minimize the look? Just painting that ceiling the same color as the walls (unless it’s very dark) could go a long way towards making it less noticeable. It goes without saying that you should have a professional evaluate for asbestos before you do a single thing. You may not have as many options as you think.

Oh what a shame, that ceiling is lovely! I can see that the medallian around the fan (not to mention the fan itself) doesn’t really match.

oh dear god that swirly ceiling stuff is awful. good luck on your endeavor.

That texture was typically applied to cover imperfections in the ceiling. I wouldn’t have it torn out. My parents house has this in all of the bedrooms. One ceiling needed some repair (electrical) and rather than trying to match it, they had a plaster texture sprayed on top of it after a light sanding. Not popcorn type texture, much more smooth in overall appearance.

That swirled plaster business was really popular in the ’60s (um, that’s 1960s, not 1860s!), and it’s totally incongruous with the Victorian-style moldings I see in the distance. I can’t tell if the medallion is plaster or a resin/plastic repro, but again, it’s not the same style as the textured ceiling.

To each his or her own, but I think these swirled ceilings are horrible — on the same level as popcorn ceilings, and I understand completely why Ann wants to get rid of hers! They were put up to hide cracks, repairs, and other imperfections without having to use (and pay for) a skilled plasterer.

In order to avoid damaging the moldings (assuming they are plaster/original), I would recommend having the highest points of the swirls sanded down, and then getting a REALLY skilled plasterer to go over the whole thing and give you a smooth surface. You could cover it with drywall, but then you’ll lose the profile of your moldings (which, if they’re synthetic repros, might be just fine).

One VERY important thing to keep in mind: Depending on the age of the textured plaster, it COULD contain asbestos. You definitely do NOT want to be sanding or otherwise abrading anything with asbestos in it. Whatever you do, I strongly advise you to get the material tested for asbestos content before removing it.

I have a swirly ceiling and would love to get rid of it. I looked at videos on youtube a little while ago and it looks like vinegar and water will make it come off without a ton of scraping.

I have not done mine yet, because, even though I hate it, there are bigger fish to fry in my 1969 condo.


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