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I have a 100 year old house with a room with old outdated ceiling tiles that I want to disappear. I don't know if the tiles are glued or stapled on but there are furring strips that run the length of the room that the tiles are adhered to. The ceiling behind this is a plaster ceiling. Can I just put drywall over everything or do I need to remove the ceiling tiles first? The tile have been there for at least 50 years and I don't know what they may contain. I also want to keep the mess to a minimum. Can I reuse the furring strips? The furring strips are 3in. x 3/4in in size.

What is the best way to handle this?

  • I would remove the old plaster and the tiles, this makes future repairs much easier and allows replacement of old wiring methods that may be working but would be safer if updated. I have seen jobs where 1900 era homes had several layers when a roof leak (and upstairs bathroom) leaked, trying to make a repair the owner made a really big mess, on my first experiance that I ended up pulling everything down and putting up sheetrock. Having done this kind of repair 1/2 dozen times over the years I find it much faster to strip out the old stuff and install new, this also makes future repairs easier. – Ed Beal May 10 '18 at 20:23
  • There is no old wiring going through that area as it was updated a few years ago. Won't ripping out al the old stuff cause a bigger mess and more work? Could there be asbestos in the plaster or tiles? There is no water/plumbing in the room above or nearby. – gs123 May 10 '18 at 22:29
  • 3 layers of material will be difficult to get uniform. I was suggesting wire pulling as an additional possibility to make upgrades. Sure there will be some mess but putting up the new will be much easier, been there done that quite a few times. With a room above, I would stand by removal as the best way. – Ed Beal May 10 '18 at 22:52
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The only concerns are:

  1. That the furring strips are on suitable centers (24" or less)
  2. That they're anchored well enough to support the weight of the drywall in addition to the tile.

Otherwise it should work just fine. You can take this opportunity to shim out any dips or humps, too.

If you're going to the trouble of removing the tile, you might as well just remove the strips, too.

  • The furring strips are 12" apart. The joints the strips are attached to are 16" apart. They seem to be anchored very well. I don't see any dips with the ceiling tiles so I assume the furring strips are pretty level and smooth. The tiles are 12in squares. – gs123 May 10 '18 at 22:31

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