Tommy’s Tips: Fitting a Plaster Ceiling Rose

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After 40+ years as a builder, I would say that the Victorian period for building is probably my favourite. That doesn’t mean I dislike other periods, and I do like modern un-fussy, contemporary styles. Its maybe that the Victorian period spanned such a long time, and the majority of modern period housing, was built during Queen Victoria’s reign. I think the architects and designers of that time were exceptional, when good design had a practical as well as aesthetic reason for its creation, often somehow lost or forgotten, in many recent and current designs, purely in sole pursuit of the “wow factor”.

Today I want to talk about, how to fit a decorative ceiling rose! Strangely something which is both, “in and out,” of fashion at the moment. The ridiculously high price of property, primarily caused by demand in a market short on supply, appears to be driven, predominantly by the professional classes, in their late 30’s and 40’s who prefer a central urban location, which is often Victorian in period with larger rooms, wooden floor boards and high ceilings.

The current fashion for retro design and restoring period features, has given ceiling cornicing and decorative roses a renaissance, and installing these is within the realms of the good DIY’er. The room centre point can be determined by snapping two chalk lines, from corner to corner, and where they cross determines the exact centre of the room. Set up a platform to work from, and acquire an extra pair of hands from somewhere, to offer the ceiling rose into position, and draw around it onto the ceiling. Search for the timber joists, using a joist detector and mark, or alternatively use a cordless drill with a pilot bit, drilling a serious of holes, within the pencil marking, to locate the joists, transfer these positions, onto the decorative plaster rose, drill and counter–sink to conceal the screw heads. Apply a coat of PVA and water (50×50 mix) onto both the ceiling rose, and ceiling (within the marks). Traditionally the ceiling rose was stuck in place using plaster or plaster of Paris, maybe with a couple of nails to help hold it into place, until the plaster went off. Now it is easier to use tile adhesive, or a mastic adhesive, like “No Nails” or similar, you will need your extra hands for this, offer up the rose to the ceiling, pull the light flex through a hole in the ceiling, push into position, and carefully fix two anodized screws into place, to help hold the rose while the adhesive cures! If the rose is only small and light, it may well stay in place with just the grab adhesive, but I always prefer to add a couple of mechanical fixings, just to be sure! Using a wet sponge, remove any excess plaster or adhesive and fill the screw holes.

If you want to fix a heavy light centre piece, like a chandelier, you may have to lift a board or two in the room above, install and screw a wooden noggin, between the two central joists, as grounds, and safe support, for the chandelier below.

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