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How to Repair a Detached Drywall Ceiling
by Ruby Bayan

Detached ceiling Drywall, sheetrock or wallboard ceiling panels can detach and come off the joists especially when a relatively heavy lighting fixture is fastened to it. When this happens, calling a handyman to repair the fallen ceiling first comes to mind; but if you're confident enough to climb a ladder and work with a power screwdriver, you could give the handyman fees to yourself.

What you'll need:

Wood screws - 1 3/4 inch
Power drill/screwdriver
Wood planks (or wallboard jack)
Drop cloth
Screwdriver
Pliers or small crowbar
Eye protection glasses

What to do:

1. Remove furniture from the room or cover them with drop cloth. The repair will bring down some drywall material and dust.

2. Switch off the power source of the light fixture, preferably at the circuit breaker; then carefully uninstall the light fixture.

Remove fixtures

3. Pull out the old nails from the joists. Use a pair of pliers or small crowbar. You won't be able to reach all of them but try to remove those that you can.

4. Push up the fallen drywall panel back in place using a wallboard jack or a couple of wood planks. A wallboard jack, which is sometimes available for rent at a home improvement center, is similar to a car jack and would be ideal for ceilings higher than 8 feet. For standard ceilings, 8-foot wood planks, which are relatively cheap (and reusable), would do the job just as well.

Prop up detached drywall

5. Thin scraps of wood or shims will help raise the wood planks a few inches if required. Be sure to secure the foothold of the wallboard jack or wood plank to prevent accidents; use a rubber mat if the support tends to slide across a smooth floor. A floor mat will also help protect the floor.

6. Reattach the panels to the joists with screws, making sure to drive the screws just flush to the surface for a smooth finish. Position the new screws about 1-2 inches away from the holes where the old nails popped off. Add a few more screws for added security.

Screw on the drywall ceiling

7. Decide whether you want to re-tape, re-spackle and re-paint over the repair, or change the finish of the whole ceiling.

8. Decide whether you want to use the old light fixture or install a new one. Install light fixtures on the joists this time.

Helpful Tips:

Instead of propping the wood plank as is, you can make a T-brace by nailing a half-inch-thick 6"x12" piece of wood to the top end of the plank for a wider support hold on the drywall panel.

With ceiling repairs, it is often difficult to simply re-tape, re-spackle and re-paint the damaged area to match the rest of the ceiling. Especially for popcorn ceilings, repairs are always obvious; in which case, you may want to consider removing the popcorn and giving the whole ceiling an entirely new finish.

Caution:

Ceiling repair requires long periods of looking up and strenuous upward motions. Pace yourself to avoid sore muscles and a stiff neck.

Always wear protective eye gear.

References:

HGTV.com: How to Repair a Drywall Ceiling


Contributed to eHow.com by Ruby Bayan, Home & Garden Topic Expert 2007-2010

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