We have a pressed cardboard tiled ceiling and blown-in insulation in the attic above it. It's ugly and we'd like it replaced with sheetrock that we could paint.

How would I go about determining if our ceiling joists can support the added weight of sheetrock? Should we remove the cardboard first? (We've gotten negative lab tests. For asbestos and so we are certain it's plain cardboard). If the old ceiling must be removed, how do you do that without all the insulation falling down?

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    What are the joist made of how Farr do they span and how far apart are they spaced?
    – Kris
    Sep 6, 2021 at 1:39
  • Drywall is not all that heavy - correction, it is heavier than I thought! Apparently regular drywall is ~ 57 lbs/4'x8' sheet and "ultralight" ~ 44 lbs. Sounds like a lot, but that works out to < 2 lbs. per square foot. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, which gets back to "what size are your joists and how far apart are they?" Sep 6, 2021 at 1:44
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    If you don't want to mess with the insulation, leave the cardboard up. It wouldn't be my first choice, because you won't see the structure that you're screwing into, but that really isn't the end of the world. Sep 6, 2021 at 3:43
  • Main problem with drywall on ceiling is putting it up there. A three person job or need a drywall lifter/stands(google).
    – crip659
    Sep 6, 2021 at 11:31

1 Answer 1


I'll pick USG Ultralight Sheetrock, since it's probably the lightest on the market.

Their specs say 1.25lbs per square foot. If you hang 4.5' x 12' sheets (pretty standard), that's 67.5 lbs per sheet. Probably 70-ish after fasteners, tape, mud, etc.

In all honesty, if your ceiling joists can't handle that weight, I'd say you have much larger issues. Your joists should be some of the most structurally strong in the house.

How do you remove the ceiling without the insulation falling down?

If it's batts, they might stay put. Especially if they are kraft batts (likely stapled to the joist). Loose insulation will fall down period. I would try to replace with kraft batts if at all possible before drywalling (probably get a higher R-value as well)

  • 4x8 sheets are standard where I live, so way less weight/ floppiness to heave up onto the ceiling... 4.5 is for 9' walls, and 12' is for pros that want fewer butt joints. Sep 6, 2021 at 3:40

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