Remedies: internal walls and ceilings

Common problems include walls that are out of square, cracked plaster ceilings, draughts, and the need to incorporate new insulation and linings.

Installing new hard linings

It is difficult to install hard lining without removing skirtings and architraves, which are very difficult to remove intact as they tend to be brittle and therefore prone to splitting during removal unless a lot of care is taken. Options include:

  • removing scotias, skirtings and architraves and the sarking and install plasterboard directly to the existing framing (this option also allows for the installation of insulation from the inside), then fixing new trims
  • installing plasterboard lining over the sarking after removing the timber trims which will then require reinstalling or replacing
  • installing plasterboard lining over the sarking, without removing timber trims, and using a timber bead to finish the plaster.

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Walls that are out of plumb or corners that are not square

If walls are not square or plumb, incorporating new work is more difficult. The decision about how much to attempt to rectify (if at all) depends on:

  • how far out of square/plumb the wall is
  • whether it is likely to have been out of plumb from the start
  • whether it will be noticeable or compromise the finished work
  • whether it can be accommodated in the new or repair work
  • what can be done and what it will cost to make good.

In most cases, walls out of plumb are unlikely to be particularly noticeable in the finished work, or the finished work can be made to mask it. Where repair is deemed necessary:

  • walls may be able to be firred to make them plumb
  • the wall position may be able to be adjusted (with a sledge hammer) to make it more square
  • the construction may have to be rebuilt, in which case dwangs may be necessary. 

If walls were out-of-plumb originally, and have not changed as a result of movement or damage, leaving them in their original condition may be the best option.

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Damaged ceilings

Damage to ceilings may have occurred as a result of building movement, or from sagging as fixing capacity is lost, but repair is often possible. 

Repair options available for fibrous plaster ceilings include:

  • flushing off the crack with gypsum stopping compound (if there is only minor cracking but the plaster is generally well adhered to the framing, and the finish is smooth and unpatterned)
  • using flexible fillers
  • hiring a skilled plasterer to repair small areas of damage to plaster ceiling roses and cornices
  • replacing the ceiling if damage is significant (such as a number of cracks and/or the ceiling is sagging). 

If the painted plasterboard panels of a plasterboard and battened/beamed ceiling are in poor condition (for example, cracked and flaking), sand the panels and repaint them. 

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Bungalows that have not been hard lined can be draughty, letting in cold outside air and readily losing heat from the interior. Air passes through weatherboards, match lining, tongue and groove boarded floors, around window sashes and doors, and through chimneys. Heat loss through draughts can be reduced by:

  • hard lining
  • foam stripping doors and windows
  • installing carpet over foam underlay
  • removing or blocking open fireplaces or installing closed fire box inserts.

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Incorporating insulation 

See insulation.