How To Prepare For DIY Repairs To A Water-Damaged Ceiling

11 August 2015
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When you want to make repairs to your ceiling that involve removing and replacing drywall, preparation is an important step so you can avoid trouble down the road. Thorough preparation can take time, but it will help ensure that you don't cause any further damage and that you have everything you need before you begin.

Secure The Area With Plastic

Replacing drywall is a messy job, so before you start, move whatever furniture you can out from under the damaged area so you have a clear work space. Then put down plastic over the floor, walls, vents and any remaining furniture, then seal it off with masking tape.

Get Face Protection

Cutting and moving drywall sends plenty of dust and small particles into the air, and you don't want these in your throat or eyes. Masks and eye protection can be purchased at most hardware stores and aren't generally expensive.

Cut A Survey Hole

Eventually you'll be cutting out the entire damaged area, plus a little extra, but before you start cutting you need to get an idea of what you're looking at. To do this, cut a small square out of the ceiling in the middle of the water damaged areas. Make it just bit enough for you to stand up in. You'll later expand this square, but for now you're just using it to take a preliminary look at your work space.

Take a look up inside your attic and look for a few important things.

  • Figure out the extent of the water damage from the top side and find how far it spread.
  • Find and mark the location of all your ceiling joists.
  • Look for any water pipes or other wires or cables you will need to move out of the way or be cautious of when cutting.

Clear Away Obstructions

Once you've figured out the general area you'll be cutting through, the next step is to remove obstructions from the area. Push the insulation above the cutting area out of the way; if you have fiberglass you can simply move it, though if you have spray foam insulation you may need to do some scraping. If there are any flexible pipes, you can move these too; if you can't move them far, try to make sure they're at least above the top of the joists so you don't accidentally strike them when you cut the ceiling.

Prepare Your Cut

An easy way to help make a straight cut in your drywall is by cutting up to the nearest joist instead of stopping in between. This way you can cut right along the joist to get at least two straight sides.

For the other two sides, use a tape measure to make marks where you want the other two sides. When you're finished, you should have four marks on your ceiling -- one for every corner of your existing hole.

To make sure the other two sides are straight, and use a chalk reel to connect the dots. You can use this chalk line to guide you as you make your final cuts. Preparing your cut beforehand will reduce the number of times you have to make modifications to the replacement patch of drywall you're putting in, so take the time to be accurate with your measurements.

If you find you need additional help, you can contact a professional service, like Flood Damage Restoration, to complete the job for you.