We moved into an old house, and one room still has the original 1890 horsehair lathed plaster all over. On the walls it's the consistency of sawdust held in place by a layer of paint. On the ceiling it is sagging and cracking, but I'd just as soon not fix it right now, which would trigger a bit more of a remodel than I want to do right now.

But my brain keeps thinking the sagging is getting worse...and worse...or maybe it isn't.

Is there a simple way to see if the sagging really is getting worse over time?

3 Answers 3


Find the lowest point in the ceiling and place a small pencil mark there. Then measure from the floor to that point and record the measurement. Periodically re-measure and if measurement is getting smaller, then the sagging is getting worse.

  • 5
    To make this measurement as accurate as possible, you should measure not to the floor which would require curving the measuring tape and making it too hard to read accurately, but to some known point where the tape can go past it easily. Use a piece of furniture, or a piece of scrap wood and mark it off a few inches from the floor, so you can measure from the ceiling down to that mark very accurately. Use 1/16th inches or millimeters to be most precise. See wikihow.com/Make-Accurate-Inside-Measurements-Between-Walls for a similar example of what I'm talking about.
    – gregmac
    Feb 19, 2013 at 20:52
  • @gregmac it looks like a pen was used to mark the wall in that example (I've never seen a pencil with a cap anyway); unless you're planning to repaint afterwards pencil is probably a better choice to make the mark. Feb 19, 2013 at 21:24
  • 2
    Yes ok, don't use sharpies and pens and other permanent markers that require repainting the whole wall, unless you want to repaint the whole wall :) Actually I often use a piece of painter's tape and then put my marks on that to avoid having to erase as well, since eraser will sometimes scuff the paint (especially if it was painted in the last day or two -- speaking from experience). Electrical or other tape works too but it's easier to draw a precise mark than it is to place tape precisely.
    – gregmac
    Feb 19, 2013 at 23:54

Put a camera on a tripod, have it take a picture at the same time every day, and then overlay the pictures on each other.

  • 1
    Good thought, but rather expensive to tie up a camera over the months that it might take to verify this... Feb 20, 2013 at 14:01
  • It's an answer..... didn't say it was a particularly great answer... But it might work out for someone!
    – Aaron
    Feb 20, 2013 at 15:51

A story pole: You cut a piece of molding to just fit at the spot in question. Very accurate in a differential sense.

Used in brick laying, tiling, kitchen cabinets, when ever repetitive measurements from a baseline are used.

For gadget freaks, (like me) a laser measuring tool is fast and accurate, but you must write down and keep track of the measurementsenter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.