Thursday, 31 May 2012

The French ceiling

I was telling you how my friend Chris and I planned to construct a false ceiling in the hall of our house in France.  Having re-read that opening sentence I realise that it is actually ambiguous: the house is not owned by Chris and me but by my wife, aka the Old Bat, and me.  Oh heck, just take it from here.


(This was the ceiling after I had replaced the old polystyrene tiles.  It certainly needed something!)


Back home again, Chris and I e-mailed each other with badly drawn sketches showing how we thought the false ceiling in the hall could be put up. We rubbished each others ideas on the phone, but managed to remain friends despite that, and agreed to wait until we were back in France before deciding how to proceed. On the whole, that is how we have tackled each job we have undertaken, Chris having been a great help in making improvements to the house.

Once we were able to look at the challenge on site, we agreed that neither of us had really worked out the best way to do the job and that a completely different approach would be much better.

The first thing to do, we agreed, was fix battens around the walls at the height the ceiling was to be. Fortunately, being an old house, the original ceiling was fairly high so reducing the height would not make the hall claustrophobic. Having fixed battens to the wall, cross battens would have to be fitted between them. We carefully measured the width of the hall and counted how many cross battens would be needed. We double checked our figures before going off to buy the timber.

It was a pity we forgot to allow for the battens to be fixed to the walls, so on our return we measured those as well and then went back to buy some more timber. Then we realised that although we needed a total of ten cross battens, each 1.4 metres in length giving a total length of fourteen metres, we should actually have bought rather more than seven two-metre lengths as each two-metre length would provide only one cross batten.

We made our third trip to the timber yard.

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