03 November 2014

Forget everything you think you know about drop ceilings

When I was doing a lot more retail design than I do these days I loved to work on older homes. There was always something about having to work within the confines of an existing structure that made me think more creatively. Blank slates are easy, but resolving a problem in an older home requires real effort. It's important to honor the structure you're working with and the challenge is always to add function without introducing any extraneous elements. Not breaking the bank is usually in order too.

My older home clients used to reach out to me initially because something had happened that they just couldn't live with.

In a plaster and lath home, it was usually the aging plaster itself or water added to aging plaster that prompted the decision to do something.

However, a water problem like in the office photo above can easily turn into a budget buster. Fixing the underlying problem is step one obviously, but repairing the original ceiling and walls is where the meter really starts running.

For all practical matters, nobody builds plaster and lath ceilings and walls anymore. and it's very difficult to partially rebuild a damaged old wall using drywall. Typically, all of the plaster comes out and gets replaced with drywall. By the time you're at that point, you're over budget and still have a room to finish.

Oh the joy of owning an old home.

There are options you know and they're not the drop ceilings you remember from school and work.

Honestly, if I were in the position where the damaged office shown above were mine, I'd be very inclined to replace all of that damage with something like this.

Yes, that's an Armstrong drop ceiling. It's the Easy Elegance Coffer and you can read about it here. 

Of course you'd repair the damage in the original room but when you're up against a wall (no pun intended) when it comes to a budget, a solution like a new drop ceiling from Armstrong may be the your best option. I know that's what I'd do.

In the meantime, take a look at Armstrong's inspiration gallery. You'll be amazed at the planks, the panels, the drops and the metals they have available. I know I was!


  1. We need to install a ceiling in our basement. I know hubby is going to insist on designing it himself, but I'd be very tempted to go with one of the Armstrong drop ceilings. I'd go with the Easy Elegance Coffer in white :-)

  2. Kelly, some of the planks are really beautiful too. Look over that inspiration gallery and make you case to Brian!

  3. From age five to age sixteen I lived in a 1880 era house in Helena, Montana. My dad was a carpenter and jack of all trades and did a lot of remodeling. Whenever he ripped something out, we found square nails because the structure was that old. They also used lath and plaster throughout, but the Old Man knedw how to install it. I remember it like it was yesterday. Absolutely wonderful finish, and from the way he worked that trowel it was as clear as anything that he had been using it for years and years.


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