Ceiling The Deal ~ Installing The Ceiling Between Containers 3 And 4

Armando and I have completed the first coat of repello (stucco) on the interior walls in the stick built space between containers #3 and #4, and in container #4.

As we prepared to apply the second coat of repello, I gave more thought to the ceiling in the stick built area and how the ceiling and the repello would join each other. From the get go we completely ruled out drywall on our project because of the humidity (read: mold) issue here in the mountains.

But Plycem (tilebacker) also comes in 4’x8′ sheets, and for a long time seemed like a viable alternative. It is impervious to water. But the more I thought about it, the more the drawbacks outnumbered the pluses. Plycem, like drywall, is heavy; twelve feet off the floor, it was going to be an installation nightmare for Armando and me. Then there is the cost at about $30 per sheet. Next, the joints would have to be dealt with. The edges aren’t tapered as they are in drywall, and I couldn’t see a classy way to deal with all those joints. Lastly, the cement gray sheets would have to be painted. It all added up to too much time, effort, and money.

Looking for an alternative, I got a scrap of the galvanized metal roofing that we have been using throughout the project. I cleaned it and applied a coat of Turtle Wax. I presented the gleaming sample to Cynthia. “What if…”

She liked it! I was as surprised as the boys in the vintage Life Cereal Mikey Likes It commercial. “Sure, why not. It goes with the industrial nature of the construction.”

And I like the idea too. The sheet metal is economical at $22 for a 42″x12′ sheet, waterproof, lightweight, doesn’t need painting, and goes up fast with just Armando and me. Hot dog!

But first, we needed to consider insulation. Here in the mountains we need neither heating nor air conditioning nor very much insulation. The big thing to consider is the noise on the metal roof when the sky opens full tilt with a day-long tropical downpour.

The two local options seem to be foil-faced bubble wrap that we could put on the underside of the roof joists (I used this in Cynthia’s studio) or sheets of polystyrene insulation. Luckily we had a chicken coop full of 2’x8′, six-inch thick sheets of polystyrene. I would have to cut it in half thickness-wise so it would fit in the spaces between the 2″x4″ roof joists, but a handsaw could easily handle this.

While Armando was second coating a small non-roof adjoining wall, I took the truck to the rental house and ventured into the torrid old chicken coop. Here is the coop after I removed most of the panels:

Nice, huh? I like how the whole thing is gradually being taken over by the jungle.

Under the last sheet was a big ant nest. Enlarge the photo and you can see all the ants working away on their own housing project:

It took me two trips:

I cut a bunch of panels in half and worked them into the ceiling, cutting the panels a bit proud and forcing them into place; no other fastening was needed. Here is the laundry room:

I knocked together the tee-bar support (in front of the window) to hold the sheet metal panels in place during installation.

And the second bedroom:

While this was going on, I found time to go down the mountain to buy the metal roofing panels. I had to look a few places to find nice shinny, un-dented panels. Cynthia volunteered to clean the panels and apply Turtle Wax to what would be the visible side of the ceiling. Here is one all polished; she wasn’t feeling all that photogenic in her rubber boots and the rest of her “outfit” to match. I told her she was stylin’, but no-go for a pho-to:

Polishing cloth??? Ah, so that’s what happened to my perfectly good pajama bottoms. Yeah, they had holes in them. I liked them that way…

The next photo is of the laundry room ceiling all done, ready for the second coat of wall repello to meet up smartly with the ceiling panels. The piece of conduit hanging down is for a light fixture. But where are the screws you ask? There are none. I decided to use pop rivets and they are all but invisible. We think the ceiling has nice clean lines, and notice the light pattern splaying across the panels:

Now the noise on the roof from heavy rain is reduced 80% or so. Nice.

With the tight joint between the repello and the sheet metal (and I can easily caulk it with a clear sealant if I have to), there will be no spider webs. Spiders build webs where there is air flow. Food comes to them.

We are still working on hanging the rest of the panels, but we have already accomplished the second coat of repello on several walls so an update will follow soon.

But wait, there’s more. I’ve been working on my sheet metal brake and will have good news to report soon!

Bonus photos: 

Paint rags, waiting:

Jabo, waiting:

And my favorite Edwardian era-esque photo, Fern In An Urn, Jabo In A Chair:

Jabo celebrated his fifth birthday this week! We just noticed that he is growing wider in the chest. What a runner!

That’s all for now, more soon.


4 thoughts on “Ceiling The Deal ~ Installing The Ceiling Between Containers 3 And 4

  1. Spiders don’t make webs if there is no flow of air! So obvious but that never crossed my mind!
    Your work is awesome. You are doing something great and having limited impact on the environment by being resourceful.

    • Hi Alex,

      Some years back, I worked a stint as a residential air, heat, and moisture problem solver. I applied the laws of physics to improve heating, eliminate the causes of mold, and save money by tightening houses from the elements. (This is commonly referred to as Building Science.) One thing I looked for was spiders; they always told me where the air leaks were in a house.

      Thanks so much for your kind comments about our project. Our trash pile is still nearly non-existent. We reuse empty paint cans, and when their life is done, we smash and recycle them. There is a small amount of scrap polystyrene from the M2 panels and I haven’t figured out how to get rid of it yet. I’m thinking of breaking it up and pouring the concrete floor slabs over it. Thanks again.


  2. WHAT a clever idea to use Turtle wax on the metal roofing panels (sounds like yet another labor of love Cynthia!) I cant REALLY see how that is, other than shiny … but I imagine it would also be a deterrent (slippery) for any insects or any of the spiders that manage to evade your planned “no air flow”… Always fun and stimulating stuff, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.