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The house was probably built in about 1900 (so Edwardian) and I would guess much of the plaster work is still original. We refurbished the house 3 years ago and suffered from lots of plaster falling off when we took the wall paper off, including an entire ceiling dropping out in one room. I am therefore concerned about hacking too much away, as the result could be disastrous as we also still have some original plaster features nearby.

I am looking to replace the ceiling lights in the hall with two chandeliers: the heavier one weighs about 3 kg, so nothing too grand.

So have taken the old light rose down and of course lost a circular chunk of ceiling that has exposed no joists, but lath. I have no idea how far the joists are, and no way to get at them from above as we have a floating floor sitting on top of the floor.

So two questions:

Will the ceiling be able to support the worst case scenario of 3 kg?

Assuming that I have repaired the plaster work and screw into the lath?

How the hell do I repair the ceiling?

I have already removed the loose material and cleaned it up, but traditional Polyfilla (all purpose) is going to take an age. Assuming that I can actually get it to stick to the ceiling, as at the moment, it is just dropping off onto the floor.

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Can you provide a photo? –  wallyk Aug 27 '13 at 20:56

1 Answer 1

You really don't want to disturb the lath with a light fixture. The plaster is fragily 'keyed' into the gaps between the lath. The weight of the light must connect to structure. Ideally, the light fixture should be independent of the plaster.

The plaster must be 'quietly' cut back. I use a continuous rim diamond wheel (4 1/2 inch on an angle grinder) to cut the plaster.

You need to carefully cut back the exposed lath and use a 'feeler' probe to find how far away the joists are, to each side.

You should use the Polyfilla powder for interiors, powered gypsum joint compound (with plaster-of-paris for setting) or an authentic lime based plaster (for best compatibility).

Traditionally plaster involves a brown coat, a scratch coat and a finish coat. Metal lath is useful for making repairs to existing ceilings.

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Also consider removing the field of plain plaster but preserving the plaster details, cutting as HerrBag suggests. The fragile old plaster is then less likely to randomly break, damaging the sections you really care about. A plasterboard (Sheetrock) field will avoid unexpected failures and will recede from view next to the salvaged ornamental plaster. Opening the ceiling also gives you a chance to install the fixture properly. –  bib Aug 28 '13 at 16:10

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