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The first step in remodeling both the kitchen and the upstairs bedroom was the removal of the dropped ceiling. I’ll be honest, I have never in my life seen these ceilings in the living space of a residential building; outside of a basement. However, we’ve learned it wasn’t terribly uncommon in rural homes as it was a cheap way to insulate and a fast way to have a new ceiling. Our prior owner also used it to hide new wire runs – which were easier to do over top the old bead board ceiling. Although in some places he still went above the bead board and through the joists, so I don’t know…

The tiles were stamped OCF, which I assume is Owens Corning Fiberglass. They were papery on the bottom with a batt-style insulation on top. I’m not going to spend much time on HazMats. Bottom line: if you remodel an old home you’re going to encounter materials that someone (motivated slightly by human health and significantly by tort liability) will claim is deadly.  I’ve relied on a site called InspectApedia when I’m concerned about building materials. While they have plenty of disclaimers explaining that testing is the only way to know for sure – they also have some pretty exhaustive lists of what did, didn’t, and may have contained asbestos or other scary words.

My disclaimer: I’m not telling anyone to knowingly rip out asbestos or scrape lead paint – just do the research first and always be safe. I wear goggles and an N95 or P100 (for lead) when I know I’m going to be making dust. 

Dust control when renovating

As you can imagine, dropped ceilings are a playground for mice, so I sealed up the room and was very careful when I took the panels down – placing them straight into a large garbage bag and then tossing them out the window.

To further keep dust to a minimum, I set a fan up in the window and taped an air filter to it. I also cracked the other window in the room to create a positive pressure environment. This actually worked  quite well and there was almost no dust floating in the room.

A big fan of flickering florescent lights

Nothing makes a room more inviting than rows of florescent lights flickering and humming, right? I’ll put this as simply as I can  – I hate florescent lighting more than anything on earth. As an office drone, I’m unfortunately subjected to them for 8 hours a day and just like I don’t even want to see a computer when I get home, I sure as hell don’t want to walk into a room with florescent lights. The previous owner clearly felt differently. Of course, they were a cheap way to light the house and I suspect he got them for free after some demo at the local school – so, I won’t shame anyone for frugality. Never-the-less, down they came:


Most of (there were 7) the lights from the bedroom and two more in the hallway. I separated the ballast from the wires and housing. We’ll scrap the metal and wire and recycle the ballast.

Beyond repair

While the bead board ceiling would be fine with us, it was clearly beyond repair. So, we covered it with plastic (keep paint dust where it is) put up furring strips and replaced with it with a DIY coffered ceiling. The process of that will be detailed in a later post.

This was the big demo part of our remodeling part as well as tearing off the plastic wood grain trim around the windows, closets and door. Stay tuned for more details and how-to’s.