Heritage ceilings: Keep, fix or replace?
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Heritage ceilings: Keep, fix or replace?

Olix is currently working on an early 20th-century wooden cottage house renovation project in Lilyfield, where the owners are not just extending, they’re also renovating existing rooms. One of the many decisions they had to confront was whether to keep and restore period features such as the pressed metal ceilings, or to replace them with replica elements. 

Considerations in such a decision include:

  • the condition of the original period feature as the state of disrepair will influence time and cost and in the end, may not provide the desired result.
  • whether you want to keep all layers of a structure so that it reflects previous eras and occupations, or whether you prefer to begin again and add like-for-like or modify to a contemporary style.
  • whether you want to add ducted air conditioning, downlights or other ceiling modification. In this case, it’s likely you’ll need to replace it with a new ceiling.

If your ceiling is a lathe and plaster one, it may need to be replaced. While many lathe and plaster ceilings have stayed in place for centuries, they tend not to fare well under increased vibration that occurs when your house is being extensively renovated. These ceilings can drop or collapse unexpectedly as they are very heavy and if the plaster keys detach the ceiling is compromised. It can be risky to try to repair or reattach them, and it’s best to contact a heritage plaster for specific advice.
Start by finding the rough dates of when your house was built, and then identify its features using online catalogues. If there are remnants of existing ceilings such as roses, cornices or sconces, photograph them and either match them yourself or take the photos to the supplier and ask them to do it.
Decorative features in houses follow specific trends over time, so many of the designs are well documented.


Thanks to a healthy restoration and renovation trade in Sydney, there are a number of suppliers for both pressed metal ceilings and plaster cornices, rosettes, scones and corbels. 
Here are some of our favourites:

Talk to Richard if you have questions about beginning your restoration project.

Pressed metal ceiling with lining board repair
Pressed metal ceiling with electrical penetrations that don’t enhance the ceiling.