The Practical vs. The Beautiful. What to do?

P1050826The anatomy of a ceiling

We spent almost a week in demolition mode. Many thanks to my bro-in-law and dear friend Bibi for all the help. It wasn’t fun, but it was kind of funny. The dust was just insane.

After pulling down the false ceiling (5), we now have a better idea of what we’re working with:

(1). The beams: These are the large supporting beams. (1*) shows the natural wood color while (1) in the forefront has paint and plaster residue. Aside from a lot of nail holes they are in excellent condition.

(2). The joists: The joists run in between the beams. They are covered in paint and plaster residue. They are in fairly good condition but with lots and lots of nail holes.

(3). The space in between the joists have been covered with a light clay like plaster. It is covering an old insulation mix of hay and straw (4). The insulation is supposedly in good condition and we have been advised to keep it intact. However, the plaster (3) covering the insulation is very fragile.

So here are our options:

(A). Show off all the beams and joists (1 & 2). However, as the plaster layer (3) in between the joists is too fragile to simply paint over, we would have to find a way to either cover it up with drywall, wood or a new layer of plaster.

(B). Show off just the beams (1). We could drywall the entire space between the beams (1) meaning that the joists (2) would be hidden.

While option (A) could be stunning, it’s a lot of work. We would have to strip all of the joists (or less time-consuming just paint the joists) and then specially cut and fit the drywall in the space between the joists which are very closely set together. Maybe we could add a new layer of plaster in between the joists instead. I am really not sure what is the best way to go about this if we want apparent joists.

Option (B) seems more practical and would give us better heat/sound insulation as well. We can also pass a new layer of insulation and electrical work above the drywall. But as this is a very special project for us, I would be kinda sad to cover up the joists.

In all cases we want to strip or sand blast the beams to expose the natural wood. We have also heard of using oxalic acid to treat the wood in order to remove age and rust stains and to refreshen and lighten up the color. After stripping and treatment, we’ve been told to rub in Linseed oil. However, after some recent research on the net, I’m not sure if Linseed oil is the best suited for our wood beams.

So…any advice here?  We could really use it. Apparent beams and joists, or just the beams?

Also, to see some beautiful esthetic examples of apparent joists and beams plus lots of links, check out my previous post: EXPOSED BEAMS AND JOISTS.

Related posts you might like:

cuisine-aurelie-mathigot EXPOSED BEAMS AND JOISTS




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  1. Elle Belle

     /  May 25, 2013

    maybe, you may leave some of the walls alone and just add insulations and new facade.
    and revele the only necessary walls (meaning stone walls ).

  2. Elle Belle

     /  May 21, 2013

    It seems most of your heat will be lost from the outer walls, windows and roof…
    If I were you I will insulate the outer walls and the roof when you re-do the roof.(think of the winter time when it is cold and wet. I do understand that you want to refinish in to the original state)

    Now for the ceiling,
    Inbetween the #2’s so I am talking about #3 I think it will be nicer to mud, that way you will expose all the beams. (insulating in between the floors are not that import and money waisted )

    Treatment on the exposed beams. ( 1, 1x, 2 and 5 )
    I know you have lots of nail holes and white plasters are smeared,
    – just pull out all the nails and than sand just lightly where the nails are and ruff areas
    – after light sanding ( you will still see most of white plasters that does not bother me
    get a white wash ( that means you mix with water base white paint + water one can use brush or rags to paint on the surface of the beams. and if you want to add some preservatives for the wood go a head or you can add later on.)
    ★ for the old buildings it helps to look lighter and ceilings feels taller and modern without looking newish.

    good luck,
    Elle Belle

  3. The beams will be exposed no matter what we do (it’s the joists we’re not sure of), but yes, I should look into consulting a plaster expert that could plaster between the joists.

  4. I see that if you forsake the apparent joists you have lots of space for insulation between floors. But covering them up with drywall you lose a lot of handmade charm. So you need to decide: Is it preferable to insulate between floors OR insulate exterior walls and inside the attic roof? What is the existing condition of the attic floor, and what is the plan for it? Are you going to finish the attic by the time you live there? Maybe you can lay bats of insulation on the attic floor temporarily, and then reuse them in ceiling when you finish the attic space. I would get the opinions of a work-persons familiar with this type of construction. I find the apparent joists and beams very pleasing and dislike covering them up with drywall. If it were me, I would get a drywall/plaster specialist to bid the #3 space refinish in plaster. I bet it is quicker and cheaper than drywall. I am not a fan of trying to restore the wood of those distressed looking original beams to something that can be oiled or stained. I think the shape and texture is enough, and you can whitewash them or paint them contrasting color to the whitewashed joists. But remember, I am lazy ;^P


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