Raising Low Ceilings

 
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Old 01-19-2007, 04:21 PM   #1
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Raising Low Ceilings


I've encountered a lot of head-scratchers over the years in remodelling other people's homes, but now I've got one in a house my wife and I just bought. We moved to an area of the country where there have been quite a few houses that were built with only 7 1/2 foot ceilings. The house itself is small at under 1000 square feet, but sufficient for us until we can either build on the 4 acre lot or add on to the existing house.

I'd like to raise the existing ceilings to a more "normal" 8 feet to give a little more spaciousness, but I've never seen or heard of it being done before, though I'm sure it has been. My plan is to remove the existing ceiling joists (there is only un-floored attic space above) and then shorten them slightly or use new lumber to move them up on the rafters. I may end up with a slightly angled wall to ceiling joint doing it this way, but maybe it could be disguised or used for recessed lighting.

The other possibility is to remove the ceiling joists and replace them with collar ties higher up, giving more of a vaulted ceiling. The problem here is that the joists span two rooms, so it would mean extending the interior wall up to meet the new ceiling, leaving me with rooms with a trapezoidal cross section.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks
RW Wood
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Old 01-19-2007, 04:48 PM   #2
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Re: Raising Low Ceilings


Around here Bear homes was building those things back in the mid 80's. Cut every corner possible. 2X4's 24" oc even on exterior/bearing walls. I saw one with 3 full shingle tabs run off at the ridge on a 40' span. In their time, they were as cheap as you could build.

Problems with lifting the ceiling.
If you don't run full length studs, you will have a knuckle joint that will crack.
Re-wiring all electric home runs, lights, and many other circuits.
Extending plenum on furnace, all vents.
Just seems to me it's not worth the cost. Better off to build a new house and sell that one as is.

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Old 01-19-2007, 09:19 PM   #3
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Re: Raising Low Ceilings


You could bump the framin up 6-12 inches making a low collar tie. Will need to add collar ties above also to keep the walls together. Then box out around each room as a soffit. Might look cool. Before doing all of this, you really need to look at how lumbing and electrical and duct work is ran and make sure its feasible. Lots of work for a house you many or may not stay in. I would decide first what you want to do.

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Old 01-20-2007, 04:29 PM   #4
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Re: Raising Low Ceilings


Quote:
Originally Posted by thom View Post
Problems with lifting the ceiling.
If you don't run full length studs, you will have a knuckle joint that will crack.
In this case, the walls are concrete block, vinyl siding outside and furring strips and sheetrock on the inside. Since I only need to gain about 6 inches height on the ceiling, my plan was to use 2x6 blocks between the rafters and some kind of Teco hangar to support the ceiling joists at the new height.

Quote:
Re-wiring all electric home runs, lights, and many other circuits.
Extending plenum on furnace, all vents.
Just seems to me it's not worth the cost. Better off to build a new house and sell that one as is.
Rewiring should be a minimum, I think as there are few ceiling fixtures in the house, and all heating vents are in the floor.

Thanks.
RWW
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Old 01-20-2007, 07:05 PM   #5
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Re: Raising Low Ceilings


My two thoughts are :
Cut the existing ceilings joist off to form the bottom framing for a shallow "furr down" then frame a higher ceiling as a tray ceiling. The bottom of the furr down makes a good spot for recessd lighting, and hides the angled part of the ceiling. Run a single medium size crown (I like 4 1/4" on low ceilings) and a larger size or built up crown in the tray. We do this fairly often and it looks good.
Secondly you could do a vault as you suggested, and reframe half of the ceiling joists to eliminate the trapeziod.
They are both a fair bit of work for a thousand foot house, so if you aren't planning to stay in it, I don't know if I would spend the money.

Last edited by troubleseeker; 01-20-2007 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 01-21-2007, 04:52 PM   #6
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Re: Raising Low Ceilings


Quote:
Originally Posted by troubleseeker View Post
My two thoughts are :
Cut the existing ceilings joist off to form the bottom framing for a shallow "furr down" then frame a higher ceiling as a tray ceiling. The bottom of the furr down makes a good spot for recessd lighting, and hides the angled part of the ceiling. Run a single medium size crown (I like 4 1/4" on low ceilings) and a larger size or built up crown in the tray. We do this fairly often and it looks good.
I'm note sure I follow what you're saying here, but it sounds like an interesting solution. Do you have a photo or sketch you could post?

Quote:
Secondly you could do a vault as you suggested, and reframe half of the ceiling joists to eliminate the trapeziod.
Do you mean in one of the two rooms spanned by the joists?

Quote:
They are both a fair bit of work for a thousand foot house, so if you aren't planning to stay in it, I don't know if I would spend the money.
We bought the house for under $80,000 and with the location and lot size, I think that we'll realize at least part of the investment. We plan to be there for a good while and to do additional work and an addition to the house as well.

Thanks.
RWW
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Old 01-21-2007, 07:49 PM   #7
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Re: Raising Low Ceilings


We just completed a job like this, except the ceilings were only 7 feet. What we did was pull the joists and vault the whole house. We built knewalls on top of the original in areas where the client needed privacy. The new joist are only 11 inches from the rafters but the look is awesome. As for the plumbing and elect we did have to add some junctions and reroute a bit of the plumbing. The ac was in a closet so that wasnt a huge issue. Keep in mind this customer spent more on his ceiling than you did in your house but it looks awesome. Before you do anything consult a structural engineer to determine what actually is feasible in your application...don't want to crash the roof you know. Also if your builder used trusses you definately need the structural report to tell you what to do to cut them...As we all know "You do not cut, drill or otherwise modify trusses". Good luck.

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