Removing old plasterboard from walls and ceilings needs to be done methodically. In this guide, we explain how to take down the old plasterboard as well as building paper, polystyrene insulation and timber battens.
There are several situations where you may need to strip out the old dry lining from a room. You may have damp problems or insulation problems with the existing walls. There may be damp penetrating because of poor construction methods, or there may be a complete lack of insulation between the plasterboard and the brickwork. In the images below, the dry lining is being removed from an old extension which is being pulled down and replaced. The reason for stripping out the dry lining first was to allow the bricks to be taken down separately and salvaged for re-use if possible. On this job, the external walls are only a single skin of brick and the polystyrene insulation used was totally inadequate.
Having planned ahead regarding the disposal of the rubbish you can start work. The easiest solution is having a skip so that all rubbish can be removed as you go along. Otherwise, you can end up with a large stack of rubbish which then needs to be moved again. Skips are not particularly cheap but, they are the best method when there is a large amount of builder’s rubbish to get rid of.
Using a crowbar or wrecking bar, work along the edges of the plasterboard to release the nails or screws holding it to the battening. At best you will remove some large chunks of plasterboard at a time but, it’s brittle stuff so it will break up easily. If the skip isn’t adjacent to the work, it’s often easiest to fill a barrow at a time then simple wheel this round to the skip.
With the plasterboard removed from the walls, depending on the construction method used, you may have a number of other materials to remove. On this particular job, there is a layer of building paper behind the plasterboard. Most of this paper came away with the plasterboard, but any remaining can simply be torn away. The purpose of building paper is to prevent damp penetrating into the plasterboard. The building paper here is a bitumen bonded kraft paper to provide a waterproof membrane. Unfortunately, there were several areas where the paper had not been installed properly which lead to damp areas on the plasterboard. This was particularly noticeable along the junction between the rear wall of the house and the flank wall of the extension. The building paper had not been lapped round the junction and moisture was easily able to penetrate here.
With the plasterboard and building paper removed, the polystyrene insulation can be removed. This is simply wedged in between the battens and is very lightweight so it is easy to remove.
The battens on the wall are likely to be littered with old fixings from the plasterboard so take care when dealing with them. A wrecking bar can be used to prise them away from the brick walls. Depending on whether the battens are to be salvaged for later use, you may need to de-nail them. It’s always best to de-nail timber before storing it – it makes it easier to store and there won’t be any accidents later.
Stripping Ceiling Plasterboard
The plasterboard on the ceiling can be removed in much the same way as the walls. However, you’re working overhead and may need some sort of working platform to make the job easier. As with all demolition work, you should wear protective gear – gloves and safety goggles. When removing the ceiling, there will be a lot of dust and you’ll be looking up so the goggles are essential. Breakaway sections of plasterboard at a time, working methodically across the room. Large pieces of plasterboard can be heavy, particularly if they have become damp.
Depending on the job, there may be insulation material above this which may or may not need to be removed. On the job shown in the pictures, there was no insulation above the plasterboard and, the extension itself was to be completely demolished. If you will be re-boarding the ceiling and the existing insulation is adequate and sound, there will be no need to remove it.
Removing rubbish to the skip as you go along, and working methodically across the room makes it easier to work and is safer. Working amongst piles of rubbish is likely to lead to accidents. Having a clear area makes the whole job much more manageable as you can get to everything easily and see what you’re doing.