One of the worst feelings you can have when walking around your home is to look up… and see that familiar, brownish circular stain on your ceiling. When you realize its part of the wallboard – and that it might be buckling from the damage – things start to look even worse. Thankfully, when you learn how to replace wallboard in your ceiling correctly, you learn that it isn’t quite as painful as you’d previously imagined – neck cramps not included!
1) Wear safety glasses. You’ll be facing upward for most of this project, and you could irritate or do severe damage to your eyes if dust, particles of drywall, or worse managed to get into your eye. Always, always have safely glasses on for the duration of this project.
2) If there is any trim that needs removing along the damaged ceiling wallboard, get rid of it using a pry bar, and take out nails from the trim with pliers. Set this aside, since presumably you’re not planning on replacing the trim as well.
3) Cut away the damaged sections of your ceiling in large pieces, cleaning up your mess right away. This will avoid potential hazards later, and make the whole process much smoother.
4) If there are nails on the ceiling joists, take these out as well. They could become a hazard if you don’t get rid of them.
Checking the Joists
5) Measure the ceiling joist starting at the area of wallboard that you need to replace, and use a chalk line to mark the joist on the ceiling. Use a tape measure for taking all the measurements in this project; it’ll make things easier.
6) Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut along the joist line on the paper layer of the wallboard, and get rid of any remaining drywall that seems to be in your way.
7) Measure the opening that you created between the joist and the damaged section of the ceiling wallboard, and cut a replacement piece of board to fit.
8) You’ll need to replace insulation in the area where the ceiling wallboard was damaged, since its effectiveness was likely reduced as well. Use a staple gun to secure it in place, and do not forget to wear your safely glasses, dust mask, and gloves while handling insulation in any capacity. Note where each relevant joist is on the wall using a lead pencil.
Replacing the Wallboard
9) Put the new wallboard in place, and use a T-brace to help with support while you secure the area that’s being fixed up.
10) Use the chalk line to indicate joist spots on the wallboard, and use a power drill to screw it into place. The drill should have a dimpler attachment, which will set the screws just behind the surface of the wallboard so that they can be easily covered over with mud later. These should be placed along the joists at six-inch intervals.
11) Secure the edges of the wallboard and the replaced area with a few screws.
12) Get rid of some texture from the old piece by scraping or sanding, but be sure to wear a dust mask and safety glasses while doing so.
Finishing the Replacement Project
13) You can now replace the trim.
14) Use mud or joint compound and a drywall knife to cover over the screws, feathering it out thin enough so that it won’t leave any visible lumps along the surface. Put some drywall tape along the joint between the old and new wallboard, and cover this with a thin layer of mud.
15) Let it dry for 24 hours, then apply a second coat of mud. After this has another 24 hours to dry, you can prime and paint your ceiling.
photo by Nika Vee Creative Commons Attribution