Bedroom One
Ceiling rediscovered

Now that the doorway between this room and bedroom 2 has been reopened it is visually disturbing that the ceiling is lower (by half a metre), which really makes the room feel smaller. Bedroom 2 has [slightly] less floor area and yet feels bigger because of the higher ceiling (3156 mm or 10' 4").

So for several reasons it is becoming more and more apparent that the 1983 ceiling needs to go and the original ceiling restored. Firstly and most obviously it will remove the partial obstruction of the top part of the window that the lower ceiling required and also re-establish the room's former proportions and character. This will require either extending the wall sheeting up, or some kind of dado rail around the top of the existing lining, or complete removal of the lining and rerouting of electric cabling.

As a first step I need to get into the roof space to determine what the condition of the original ceiling is. Ok, this wasn't conclusive. After removing the insulation, vacuuming and applying a reinforcing PVA solution over the entire ceiling, the lath and keys all look good from above, with only one spot that could be secured better than it is now. I need to actually look inside the space between the two ceilings.

1. Inspection hole cut into lower ceiling.

Notice also how the top of the window is obscured.

2. Ceiling rose covering the original metal vent.

3. Ceiling and wall above the window.

4. Ceiling and wall above the external door.

Upper ceiling condition

First of all, the original ceiling looks ok. Some hairline cracks, with some of them following joist lines, which is not surprising given the work that has gone on in the roof space over the past one hundred years. A stronger light shows up the predicted undulations in the ceiling having seen the joists from above.

There are tracks of white lime dust on the upper side of the gyproc that correspond to the cracks along the lines of joists. Not a lot of dust and no dark material (image 19) so I assume the cracks are still effectively closed or possibly not full depth. A lot of assumptions there.

I also see at least four discrete dark spots (2 to 3 cm diameter) along the tracks of lime dust (images 19 and 20) where liquid has dripped through the cracks and dried to form a very thin plastic splash disk. This must be from the PVA emulsion used in the ceiling reinforcement. What else could it be? It's clearly only a very limited one-time drip event that was more recent than the lime dust deposits.

I'm looking in some detail at this because it means the reinforcement PVA emulsion has penetrated well into the plaster via cracks exactly where it needs to go. I also see runs down the wall below where I know the emulsion was sprayed. All of this tells me that the volume applied per unit area was about right and the PVA mix ratio was also about right. I'm more than happy with this confirmation of the process.

Apart from actually demolishing the original ceilings this is the only proof I'm likely to get, and is very fortunate.

5. Drip spot typical of several along dust track.

Appears to have dripped on top of the lime dust. There are two distinct drip events evident here and if I recall correctly I did spray the area above twice one or two days apart.

6. Drip spot.

I've blown the loose dust away from this spot, which has revealed dust buried within the puddle as well as a moraine of dust at the perimeter. There are also clumps of dust where splash drops have landed in the field beyond the puddle perimeter, which is evidence of the emulsion's ability to bind. I tried prying the spot up with my fingernail but could not. It's dried/cured quite hard.

I'm not sure why the spot appears dark and unexpectedly there are no visible marks on the underside of the plaster ceiling.

There is also minor cracking in the walls to be repaired. It's impossible to know whats behind the wall lining of course until it's removed. Some excavation has been done to run power cables behind the timber wall plates.

It's clear that the rooms had no cornicing at all originally. It wasn't necessary to cover gaps so, aesthetically, the residential rooms were very basic with just a metal vent lattice where the rose is now. Still, a very great improvement on the single room in a "slab" hut with dirt floor that they replaced.