Whoops – Loud bang and it all fell down!

The bang was so almighty that my upstairs neighbour heard and dashed downstairs to check I was still alive – I was fine apart from being head to toe in dust!  

I’m talking about the coving on my ceiling, it came crashing down.

Coving (or Cornice) is the triangle design between the top of walls and the edge of the ceiling.  It tends to cover up cracks at the join of the wall and ceiling, so that the finish looks neat and ornate.

So before plaster or plasterboarding walls, it might be helpful to remove the coving and replace with new.  Removing my coving didn’t need much encouragement, yours might be more stubborn.

What’s the difference between Coving and Cornice?

Confused?  I was so here’s the low-down:

Coving

  • Generic term that is usually applied to a moulding that is uniform in profile i.e. it projects 100mm across the ceiling and 100mm drop down the wall i.e. it is symmetrical.
  • It tends to be simpler in design and is typically formed around the traditional quarter circle (or ‘C’) shaped profile
  • Size and amount of detail depends on design preference and cost. Most house builders post-War period installed very simple C-shaped coving as it was clean, effective and cheap to mass produce in gypsum plaster
  • Sizes vary, the 20’s and 30’s Art Deco designs sometimes incorporate hidden lighting elements

Cornice

  • Tends to be much more ornate to achieve a grander effect and so is usually less uniform in dimension (though could potentially still have the same projection and drop)
  • Profile might be 150mm across the ceiling but only 100mm drop down the wall
  • Shape might be very complex with wide range of patterns
  • Lighting can be very effective when the ceiling is in good condition

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Which to choose?

I suggest you consider the age and style of your house and make sure the design is in-keeping with the age of the property.  Also bigger rooms can take bigger, more ornate mouldings whereas smaller rooms tend to need plainer and smaller mouldings so as not to drown the room.  Make sure you buy extra to allow for cutting the joints and corners


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What are they made of?

Both are available in different materials including plaster, paper covered gypsum or plaster, polyurethane, expanded polystyrene and timber.  More on these when I purchase mine!

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What do you need?

  1. You – Eye goggles, face mask (both very essential!), gloves, old clothes, thick-soled shoes
  2. Chisel – I used Screwfix Roughneck Cold Chisel and Guard 1×12″ £9.99
  3. Mallet
  4. Stanley Knife – Mine was very old, you can purchase one at at hardware store
  5. Ladder/means of reaching the ceiling (I don’t have a ladder so used an old desk!)
  6. Rubble sacks

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What are the steps?

  1. Electrics – Turn off at the mains
  2. Clear the area – As I discovered, coving responds well to gravity and can fall quickly and harshly from the ceiling to the floor, so ensure that all items are cleared out of the way on the floor below the edges of the ceiling (and with a wide girth)
  3. Inspection – Look at the coving, can you see any joins whereby it might be easier to initiate prying the first piece of coving from the ceiling?
  4. Ladder – Carefully position the ladder below the first coving join, climb up the ladder
  5. Score underneath the coving – Using the Stanley knife, gently score the bottom of the coving where it attaches to the wall
  6. Weaken the attachment between the coving and ceiling – Using the chisel and mallet gently tap between the top of the coving and the ceiling until the coving starts to prise away from the ceiling
  7. Move along – Carefully move along the coving continuing to use the chisel and mallet to prise it from the ceiling.
  8. Care – Coving drops to the floor – Eventually the coving will drop to the floor.  This can happen very suddenly and rapidly
  9. Circumference – Where the coving end is now exposed, continue round the room gently using the chisel and mallet to pry off the rest of the coving
  10. Clean above ceiling – I found alot of rubble had collected on the edges of my ceiling on its upper surface i.e. above my ceiling.  For this reason using my hand (gloved) gently brush the upper surface of all ceiling edges to try and remove as much rubble as possible
  11. Rubble sacks – Yep, stuff with debris and add to Rubble Mountain

Here’s The Loud Bang – the online version doesn’t do it justice but in real life it was shockingly so loud that my neighbour upstairs heard!

Cleaning the rubble from on top of the ceiling…

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