Ensuring best practice for ceiling installation

Guide to Plasterboard Ceiling care for Homeowners

How to manage ceiling safety and longevity over the life of a home

Many consumers may not be aware of the crucial role they play in keeping their home safe and strong in the long run, whether they’re building, or looking for a new home to buy.

In addition to basic home maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters and repainting walls, homeowners need to proactively monitor the performance of their entire home. This is especially pertinent when it comes to ceilings, which can be easily overlooked by homeowners.

Thanh Huynh, Engineering Services Director, USG Boral said, “Most homeowners don’t spend a lot of time looking at their ceilings, which means that they could miss early warning signs that the ceiling could be under stress. There are various factors that could cause a ceiling to fail, which can be incredibly distressing to homeowners. Being aware of these factors and checking ceilings regularly should form a key part of any responsible homeowner’s regular maintenance activities. By paying attention to early warning signs, consumers can avoid the cost and distress that comes with a failed ceiling system.”

As a leading manufacturer of premium building materials, USG Boral is committed to ensuring consumers receive the highest-quality products, installed to industry standards.

Preventing a ceiling failure starts with correct installation of the ceiling system as the home is being built.
For consumers building their home, it’s important to use qualified industry professionals for every aspect. Ceilings should be installed in accordance with manufacturer installation guidelines and Australian Standards, and ceiling materials and insulation must comply with the standards set by the Building Code of Australia (BCA) including safety, health, amenity and sustainability.

Specifically, consumers building their own home should check to ensure the installers are adhering to manufacturer installation guidelines and Australian Standards, maintaining a clean building site, and not allowing building materials to pile up and gather dust. When purchasing an existing home, buyers should ensure their building inspection includes a thorough review of the ceiling systems and, if there are any issues, these should be dealt with urgently.

Ceilings should be secured by both adhesive and screws fixed into the ceiling joists. The most common causes of ceiling failure include: the use of non-compliant (short) screws; wall board installed incorrectly as ceiling board; lack of use of temporary blocks while stud adhesive cures and inadequate application of stud adhesive; lack of roof sarking to protect against water ingress and weight overload on ceilings such as air-conditioning units and ceiling fans installed without adequate engineered framing support.

“Rarely do ceilings fail with no warning. There are usually clear signs that a ceiling needs to be repaired well before it hits the point of failure. Therefore, it’s important for homeowners to be on the lookout for these signs and contact their builder or local government building authority as soon as they see any of these signs. Homeowners should engage a suitably competent ceiling contractor who can brace the ceiling and permit further investigation into potential causes of ceiling instability prior to refixing the plasterboard ceiling.”

USG Boral has identified five ways homeowners can care for their ceilings to help prevent failure:

1.      Don’t store household items in the roof space unless additional supporting framework is engineered and installed. Similarly, don’t install         heavy mechanical appliances or light fixtures unsupported on the ceiling board.

2.      Address leaks in the roof space immediately, including removing affected insulation and moisture-damaged plasterboard. Inspect the         roof and ceiling after heavy rainfall.

3.      Check that all exhaust fans are ducted to the outside air and are not discharging into the ceiling space and that air conditioning ducts         aren’t damaged, with conditioned air leaking into the ceiling space.

4.      Inspect the ceiling system after work has been conducted in the roof space to ensure there has been no substantial movement of the         ceiling framing or plasterboard lining, which can result in screw pops and loss of adhesion of the fasteners.

5.      Ensure cross-ventilation to avoid the heat and humidity build-up that can cause plasterboard defects.

According to Thanh, “With proper installation and maintenance, the ceiling should last for the life of the home. Homeowners must take the time to look up periodically to ensure their ceiling system is still performing as intended. The moment any issues are discovered, contact an expert who can investigate the causes and recommend repairs and reinforcement to ensure the ceiling stays safely in place for many years to come.”

For more information, refer to the Plasterboard Ceiling Installation & Care - A Guide for Homeowners or the USG Boral Plasterboard Installation Manual available on the Resources & Tools page.