Blog > Remove lath and plaster ceiling but keep cornicing?

Bit of a dilemma here folks. Any thoughts appreciated!

Our 1890 ground floor flat has lath and plaster ceilings that have been overboarded with asbestos board. They did a bad job – the nails stick out proud as does the tape – it was never skimmed so you can see the nails and tape through the lining paper. Boarded right up to the cornicing too so lost all the definition. It looks dreadful.

We’re keen to preserve (and restore) the original cornicing. Being a flat we’re also quite keen to (thermally and acoustically) insulate above if possible, and if the ceilings came down we’d probably welcome the opportunity to replace the old wiring for the lights.

So… in one room we ripped the boards down (got proper PPE, double bagged them etc) which has revealed the old lath and plaster ceiling. It isn’t in great condition but it appears to be cracked rather than sagging.

Now, what to do next?

1) Board over and skim – keeping the boards say 150mm away from the cornicing to retain the cornicing profile. Easy and cheapest option. But doesn’t allow us to insulate above.

2) Rip the ceiling down but try to keep the cornicing in tact, then re-board and skim to original ceiling level. From what I’ve read and been told this is possible but obviously very messy and could damage the cornicing. Messy and more expensive, but does allow us to insulate above.

3) Just rip the whole lot down and put new ceiling and new cornicing up. Would be easy enough but very expensive and worried that new cornicing will never “feel” the same as the original – feels a bit like cheating.

At the moment we’re inclined to go for option 2, but wondered if anyone has experience of doing this they could share?

I’ve ripped a few lath and plaster ceilings down so understand the absolute horrendous mess it makes and this doesn’t bother me, my main concern is whether we could really retain the cornicing or whether we’re likely to wreck it in the process. Would be interested to hear of methods for cutting the old ceiling down which would reduce the likeliness of damaging the cornicing.

Or any other options we haven’t considered? Or just general thoughts on this dilemma?


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