I’m demoing a kitchen and discovered that the top plate sticks into the room a half inch farther than the studs. The current drywall is attached to the studs and therefore is even with this top plate which leaves the problem of how to drywall the seam where the wall meets the ceiling properly.

Option one is to leave the current drywall and drywall over it including the top plate.

Option two is to remove the current drywall and reframe the wall so it is even with the top plate.

Which is better and why? Other options?

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  • 8
    Oh that’s nasty...Option 3: Lower the ceiling sufficiently with wood stripping to cover the top plate.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 3:50
  • Either idea of @LeeSam or Michael Karas will be a god fix. The one I would choose is which one would be easier/less wood strips to add and/or tieing in to surrounding areas. Corners is the best place to hide newly thickened walls or ceilings
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 5:24
  • 13
    I'm trying to figure out why I'm looking at 2x4's turned sideways. Are those the ceiling joists? And the greenish drywall the wall? The longer I look at the picture, the more my eyes get confused.
    – JohnnyB
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 15:26
  • @JohnnyB Until my edit gets approved, see i.sstatic.net/rLUgx.jpg and zoom in
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 19:59
  • 1
    I'm immediately thinking; just drywall up to the plate, and the cover it with crown moulding. And, scroll down, there is the vastly top-voted non-accepted answer for this no-brainer.
    – Kaz
    Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 15:21

5 Answers 5


If it is not too large of wall I would recommend removing all the old drywall and its fasteners. Then I would shim out the studs with extension strips that even out the wall with the top plate. You may find that not all of these shims are uniform in dimension of any of the studs are bowed or out of plumb.

The shims are easily ripped from a 2x4 or 2x6 using a table saw. Then nail them in place with ring shank nails for good holding strength. (Some folks may even suggest running a bead of construction adhesive under each of these shim strips).

Removing all the old drywall allows easy access to any electrical boxes in the wall along this stretch so that they can be remounted to provide proper projection through the new drywall that you will install. If you go over the existing drywall you will have other work to extend the electrical boxes. I dislike most box extenders because they can make the inside dimension of the box face narrower and would probably not be compatible with the newer style of smart switches, dimmers and GFCI outlets.

  • Is 1" thickness of drywall not permitted in front of an electrical box?
    – Jasen
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 7:54
  • 2
    @Jasen All electrical boxes must come flush to the wall. If the wall is shimmed out an inch then the boxes will be an inch too deep into the wall and will need to be either extended to the new drywall face or remounted to meet the new wall face.
    – J...
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 12:58
  • Yeah -- you can't recess electrical boxes into the wall more than like 1/4" or so. (Nothing prohibits you from having electrical boxes that protrude from a wall besides a desire for a "finished look", though.) Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 4:30
  • thanks. code is completely different here (NZ/AU). OTOH boxes are mostly optional but fittings don't have exposed conductors basically the back of the fitting is IP20
    – Jasen
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 8:42

Leave a gap and use a cornice(crown) molding to cover it.

  • 1
    Sometimes the shortest answers are the best. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 15:58
  • 7
    Learning what "cornice moulding" is is my greatest accomplishment for today. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 16:04
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    +1 but in my area this is called “crown molding” when used to transition between wall and ceiling li this.
    – auujay
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 23:21
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    That’s what was there before – a crown molding The problem is that the ceiling is only 84 inches with the furring strips in the photo removed. This is a kitchen and I would like to be able to about the top cabinets at the appropriate height Either way is too low for crown molding above the cabinets Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 2:29
  • 6
    @RobSampson: Can't you just remove the molding where the cabinets would cover the gap? Then you'd have a quarter inch space between the back of the cabinets and the header right near the top that would be invisible. I don't know of any rule that says your cabinet has to have drywall between it and the header board (though I'm not a licensed cabinet installer either).
    – MichaelS
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 8:42

If there is nothing wrong with the pre-existing drywall there is no way I could justify removing it. The ceiling joists look like 2x4's turned on their side? I've never seen anything less than 2x6 upright on the ceiling of a house with drywall. I'm also not sure if my eyes are processing the picture correctly. If it's what I think it is, I would nail/screw new 2x4's alongside the pre-existing ones, but upright, creating a "L" shaped joist. This will bring your nailing surface down to meet the wall while strengthening the ceiling joists so the ceiling is less likely to sag in the near future.

  • 4
    The ceiling joists are 2x6’s. What you are seeing are furring strips that drop the ceiling roughly a half inch. It was cardboard tiles before. I’m removing those to gain back that half inch since the ceiling is only 84 inches even with that removed. I plan to drywall it with half-inch drywall instead. Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 2:27
  • 1
    @RobSampson - Thanks for replying with clarification. A close up picture takes things out of context creating a lot of guess work. Because I'm used to seeing 1x4 used for furring strips I wasn't sure what was going on there. On that note you could just flip those 2x4's since proper ceiling joists are present for toe-nailing or joist brackets. All the extra time, labor, materials/money, and mess just to gain a 1/2", where giving up another 1/2" would be relatively quick, easy and cheap. I am admittedly biased though and hate hanging and mudding drywall.
    – JohnnyB
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 7:22

The cornice molding a la @Jasen really is a good answer, and has to be the easiest. But if you don't want to do that, this is probably the second easiest. (Before you dismiss me as a hack, know that I've done this lots, with good-looking results that have held up for years.)

I'm assuming you're going to drywall the ceiling.

Get a big roll of fiberglass mesh tape, and use lots. Run one course of tape all the way on the wall, butted up to the ceiling. Another course all the way on the ceiling, butted up to the wall, and a third in the usual position tucked into the corner, halfway on the wall and half on the ceiling. Tape right over the wood, drywall, and any gaps that are left. Make sure the tape extends at least half its width past any possible gap and onto a solid surface. Err on the side of using extra.

Get some Durabond (or similar) setting-type joint compound. Mix a bit of it. Smooth it down over the top of the wall, embedding the tape, covering the wood and drywall, and filling in any holes and gaps. Make sure to get it smooth, because that stuff is basically not sandable. After that sets (45 minutes or whatever) do it again along the ceiling, meeting your first layer at the corner.

Now, instead of a hodgepodge of wood, drywall, and holes, there is a smooth layer of a concrete-like substance that you can just mud over normally, and you're done.

  • I was thinking along the same lines, good explanation. Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 19:32

Simple. Take the drywall off then take a nice sharp !" chisel and split that 1/2" off and drywall over it. Bam! Done! Is that the prettiest old school way of doing it? Nobody will see it again for 20 or 30 years. Quit trying to complicate it.

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