Episode 135 Part 1 – the horrible kitchen ceiling


It’s not pretty is it, the kitchen ceiling? It does not shout ” French Country Village House” in any language.It’s got to go.
It has been suggested that we board over it, but no. As we are gluttons for continuous punishment we will take it down laboriously, treat and refinish all the joists and wax it up …probably…

As I loosen the second tile, a thought occurs to me. Are these early 20thc ceiling tiles asbestos?

So I stop and Google the brand name on the tiles- manufactured early 1970’s. It is a fact that asbestos was still being used in building materials in France until way AFTER that date, so further research was required  to establish if our tiles had any content as they looked like they might.

They don’t and we were lucky, but please bear in mind that old French properties are very likely to have asbestos content in old cement, tile, insulation, lagging,  chimneys, roofs etc.

Do not do a Gill and go steaming in, in full demolition mode….


Regular followers will know that taking anything down chez nous is not easy. Monsieur Sire, the previous incumbent, fixed everything he created so it would not come apart.

It wasn’t too bad at the crumbly end, where the historic water leaks had nicely softened the tiles and rusted the nails through. Away from that bit it got tougher; each tile is held up with 12 big nails and maybe 40 or 50 tiny tacks that it is impossible to gain a purchase on.




About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
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26 Responses to Episode 135 Part 1 – the horrible kitchen ceiling

  1. Lynda says:

    Well, at least you didn’t have a large lawn and leaf bag full of squirrel/rat nests and other unmentionable detritus hiding behind those tiles. Yes, really. It was the most disgusting job we ever tackled in the old place we had. We wore Tyvek suits with hoods and industrial style masks with filters for that mess! Hope you don’t mind me sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Osyth says:

    Does it need insulation? This is a loaded question!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bizzyella says:

    Oh, that ceiling is so nasty looking! Sorry, but it is.

    This idea will get me drummed out of the “old is good” club but you know I’m not much of a joiner anyway. I would punch through that horrible stuff to get access to the beams, clean up the mess but leave the nails and tacks, plus probably some of the ceiling tile. Then I would take note of all those hideous dark splotches. You know how they got there? Somebody upstairs mopped the floor and it leaked through. Do you want to live with crud from above leaking through to your tidy little kitchen? I think not. So you’ll somehow need to seal the upstairs floor. Then, face it, you will want to run plumbing and wiring, upstairs and down; might as well take advantage of the space and beams.

    By the time you are done with all that you will have a ceiling that is ugly in a whole different way. So. I would put in sound insulation, then placo and paint the whole thing. Apostate that I am, I would lose no sleep over this. I would understand the tradeoffs and feel confident that I made the best decision in the circumstances. But that’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the new plumbing and wiring is mostly in, you might be able to see the grey trunking? It nearly finished me off taking it down, but Trev has enough on his hands laying the new floor and I refuse to pay someone money to do a simple, if grotty job like this.
      So, now I have had a rest and a vat of Carignan, I have looked and decided the joists/ beams are quite cute in their own way and they should clean up pretty well. Then I’ll decide about insulating between.
      As for the leaks, those are from the water damage caused by several years of the leaking roof in the bedroom above before we were loopy enough to rescue this hovel


  4. francetaste says:

    The thing about French DIYers is that what they lack in aesthetics they make up for with solidity.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. About 9 months ago, we ripped out a similarly awful ceiling, except ours was nestled in between all the beams. Still trying to determine how to best proceed (that’s the excuse, really just avoiding that next project as we took paint off of granite stone walls!) and wondering how you are planning to finish your ceiling in between the beams? Any thoughts? Looking forward to seeing your finished product. Remember, keep looking up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Catherine. To be frank I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. It’s a bit of a quandary and Trev wants to leave the bit between , which is one of the bedroom floors, as it is. I.e nothing between.
      It would look lovely but there is the noise/insulation issue

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that’s our dilemma, too. And the amount of weird dirt which falls between the floor boards above. It will be interesting to see how either of us solve it….beware, we left it for “a bit” and it’s been nearly a year! Then again, lots of other projects to address. Good luck.


  6. From one fellow glutton for continuous punishment to another, I feel your pain. I also know that if you were to board over the ceiling you wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because you would know what was up there (even if no one else visiting could see it). This beautiful French house must love having you so respectfully care for it. I’m looking forward to part II. xo Whitney

    Liked by 1 person

  7. nous says:

    Wish you luck with your restoration. I guess we will have our own share of surprise when we takle our own old house restoration!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nadia says:

    Quite a project!


  9. but exposed beams in the kitchen are so nice. (And speaking of gluttons for punishment, did you ever see the way I drywalled in between my beams?)


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