It’s been a long time coming friends but today I’m finally sharing the master bedroom ceiling makeover. We moved in to this 1740 saltbox farmhouse almost three years ago and I’ve always known I wanted to expose the ceiling beams in our bedroom so it’s a huge project milestone to finally have this complete.
A DIY tutorial to remove plaster and lath ceiling in our master bedroom to reveal original wood beams. A ceiling makeover worth every ounce of dust.
If you follow me on Instagram (you should – it’s fun) then you’ve already seen a few sneak peeks of the exposed ceiling beams. Below are more before and after pictures plus I’ll share the complete process it took to uncover the beams.
Typical to many antique homes we had low ceilings composed of plaster and lath which cover the ceiling beams (also known as floor joists for the upstairs flooring). The plaster tends to crack over time and you can see from the picture above it’s uneven, almost textured. This plaster also had a linen paper over it to keep the cracks under control.
I’m only sharing the next picture because I want you to see just how much things have changed.
This MLS listing picture above is from October 2012 when the previous owners put the house on the market. This is exactly how the master bedroom looked when I decided I wanted and needed to buy this house.
And now this same exact space looks like this:
Dreams do come true folks!
Every day I look up at those beams and think holy smokes the men who built this house in 1740 were amazing. I think about them all the time (and all the owners who have cared for this home since then) and wonder just how on earth they were able to create such beauty using only hand tools!
Exposing the beams really changed the look and feel of this room. It’s super cozy now, almost like sleeping in a log cabin.
I’m not completely convinced that mirror should stay above the fireplace but for now it’s good. It’s a diy project I made long ago, the tutorial is here.
I always say we should make our homes a reflection of ourselves and do everything possible to make them the best version. I believe that by exposing the wood beams I’ve not only made a vast improvement on this room but given honor to this historical home.
* This post contains affiliate links below.
Part of this master bedroom ceiling renovation involved a complete bathroom renovation as well. The return vent you see below originally was in the wall just above the molding however because of the bathroom remodel we had to move the return to the floor:
And I opted to use a vintage cast iron return grill versus the standard metal return vent cover. It just adds a tiny bit of character and charm.
Below is the step by step process to exposing wood beams in the ceiling. Every ceiling will be a tiny bit different as I have experienced with previously ripping down our dining room ceiling. Go slow and think things through before tearing down something truly priceless.
Step 1: Move every piece of furniture possible out of the room. I opted to leave the poster bed frame (because I built it in the room – plans here) and wrapped it with stretch wrap to protect the finish.
- cover floor with protective roisin paper
- cover and seal all vents and returns
- painter’s tape over outlets and switches
- stretch wrap and cover everything that will remain in the room
- seal doors shut with painter’s tape
WARNING: THE DUST WILL GO EVERYWHERE EVEN WITH THESE PROTECTIVE MEASURES! Just be prepared for a lot of dust no matter how much you seal the space.
Step 2: Protect yourself. A good respirator mask, protective eyewear and cover your body head to toe in clothing. When the plaster comes down it’s a mix of dust and horsehair plus all the mouse poop flying in the air, you don’t want that stuck in your hair 😉
Step 3: To get started peel back a piece of the linen paper (if you have it) then start hammering away at the plaster. It will crumble and you can pull it down. Then use a pry bar to pull the lath off the beam. This is just to start.
* The goal is to take the plaster down in BIG CHUNKS which creates less dust and easier to bag up and remove. Same with the lath, it’s easier to pry off a full piece of lath rather than breaking it.
You’ll want a plastic tarp below your work space along with a garbage bin ready to collect the plaster chunks.
Step 4: Once you get started use a hammer to loosen the plaster from above then you can pull it off in chunks.
Work in sections. The lath usually runs across 3 or 4 beams so let the lath size lead your section.
You can see the flooring above, I could’ve left that exposed as this ceiling has no electrical wires to worry about. I could have painted the underside white but I choose to install sheetrock in between the beams mostly for sound. If you do have electrical you will probably need the sheetrock to conceal any wiring. (We have electrical in the dining room ceiling – see my post here for details.)
Step 5: Once the entire ceiling was down I called in the big guns. My contractor and his guys are amazing and I asked them to sheetrock in between the beams and then later tape and mud went up to finish it off.
Step 6: I painted the ceiling using Benjamin Moore waterborne ceiling paint. Looks like it was always meant to be this way:
That makes two rooms with exposed original wood beams, I still have one more room to do but this momma needs a break and time for all that dust to settle!
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