how to plasterboard a ceiling

How to Plasterboard a Ceiling (step-by-step UK guide)

Do you want to remove your dated artex or repair a damaged ceiling? If so, you should consider covering your ceiling with a new layer of plasterboard using this guide on how to plasterboard a ceiling.

The process of covering your ceiling or walls with plasterboard is known as dry lining. Dry lining is probably the easiest way to get the best results, and you can avoid many of the health risks associated with scraping off asbestos-filled artex.

Fixing plasterboard to your ceiling is a serious undertaking, but still well within the reach of an average DIY enthusiast. In this article, I’ll guide you through the process step-by-step.

IMPORTANT: If you suspect your ceiling contains asbestos, call in a professional to check it out. Do NOT do any work on your ceiling until you have consulted a trained asbestos professional.

Don’t fancy doing this job yourself?

Then find top-rated plasterers in your area by clicking the button below:

Pros & Cons

The table below highlights the pros & cons of covering your ceiling with plasterboard:

Saves you scraping off artex which is time-consuming, very messy and potentially dangerous if it contains asbestos (see warning above)Heavy lifting is required so you will need a second pair of hands. A plasterboard lifter is highly recommend
Leaves a perfectly smooth finish that makes decorating easyCreates lots of mess, but not quite as much as scraping off or wet plastering over artex
Saves you fixing holes in the ceilingMore challenging than scraping off artex, but still easier than wet plastering
Provides an opportunity to cut holes in the ceiling before covering it. E.g. It’s the perfect time to add or move light fixturesCosts more than both scraping off and wet plastering over
The skill required is well within the realm of an average DIY enthusiast, unlike wet plastering where you really should hire a pro  

If you still think dry-lining is the solution for you, please read on and bookmark this post.

BTW, if you want to learn more about dry lining, please check out Dry Lining Tips – How to Plasterboard Stud Partition Walls. Also, if you’re looking for alternative ways to remove artex from your ceiling, please check out 5 Ways To Deal With An Artex Ceiling.

Tools and Materials

I recommend 12.5mm thick ‘light-weight’ plasterboard for this project. It’s not only lighter than standard plasterboard but also stronger, so you can hang it from joists centred 60cm apart.

If available, get sheets that are long enough to span the entire ceiling. Shorter sheets are easier to handle, but the convenience will cost you when it is time to finish the ‘butt joints’ (where ends of sheets meet).

Pro Tip: Unlike the tapered joints along the long edges of plasterboard, butt joints are hard to finish. Avoid them if you can.

Important safety tip – always wear safety goggles, a dust mask and remember to use gloves when handling these types of products


  • Electronic stud finder
  • Tape measure and spirit level
  • Chalk, marker pen and pencil
  • Knife with replaceable blades. I recommend using specialist plasterboard blades as these are quicker, safer and give you a cleaner cut
  • Plasterboard rasp
  • Plasterboard lifter
  • Step ladder
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Bucket
  • Taping knife
  • Filling knife
  • Internal corner trowel


  • Masking tape
  • 50mm x 50mm sawn timber battens for noggins 
  • 12 x 100mm Countersunk wood screws for noggins 
  • 12.5mm plasterboard (tapered edge)
  • 38mm plasterboard screws
  • Perforated plasterboard tape
  • Jointing compound
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Paper-faced metal angle bead

Before you get Started

  • Switch off the power and remove any light fixtures
  • Don’t try to span holes larger than 15cm with plasterboard; your screws will pop through the hollow space above the plasterboard.
  • Take your time to carefully locate and mark the centres of joists accurately. Getting this right will make this rest of the job much easier

Finding/Installing Joists

Locate joists with an electronic stud finder, or just probe for joists by driving a nail through the plasterboard.

All the joists should be centred either 40cm or 60cm apart, but double-check with a nail. For rooms upstairs, you can simply measure the joist gaps in the loft.

Mark each joist with a chalk line on the ceiling and with tape stuck to the wall (see Fig. 1 below).

woman marking centre of joists
Fig. 1. Marking the centre of joists

Add Noggins (if required)

The plasterboard must be well supported by a timber frame made of joists and noggins.

Use 50mm x 50mm sawn timber battens and follow the points below to ensure you have sufficient support for your plasterboard:

  • Wall Noggins (royal blue coloured noggins in Fig 2) – If there is no perpendicular support where the joists meet with the wall, screw in some ‘wall noggins’
  • Support Noggins (sky blue coloured noggins in Fig 2) – screw in some support noggins between the joists, where the long edges of the plasterboard will fall (as shown in Fig 2).

Note: You can see below that the end of the plasterboard sits halfway across the joist to allow the next board to butt up to it.

joists and noggins diagram
Fig 2. Joists and Noggins


  • For flat ceilings, simply measure the ceiling area by measuring the room’s floor area. I.e. multiply the length of the room by its width to produce the area in m²
  • Plasterboard is typically available in 1.2 x .9m (1.08m²), 1.8 x 1.2m (2.1m²), and 2.4 x 1.2m (2.8m²) at DIY stores and builder’s merchants
  • Using the chalk lines and tape as a guide, measure and mark the sheets so that the ends will fall on the centres of joists (as shown in Fig 2 above)

Cut Plasterboard

Most of your ceiling should be covered by full-length boards that require no cutting. However, chances are, there will be some areas where a board must be cut to a custom size. The steps below guide you through the cutting process:

  1. Lay the sheet flat on the floor and then mark your measured dimensions on it 
  2. Using a knife against a straight guide (e.g. steel ruler or spirit level), cut through the paper layer, but no deeper. You may find that you need to run the knife over two or three times to achieve this, so don’t try to force it on the first attempt
  3. Lift the sheet off the floor and firmly push one side of the cut. You should find that it snaps cleanly along the line you cut
  4. Cut through the other side’s paper layer
  5. If necessary, use a plasterboard rasp to smooth out any rough edges.
marking plasterboard
Fig. 3. Measure and mark where you need to cut
cutting plasterboard with knife
Fig. 4. Cut through the paper on one side. 
snapping off plasterboard along cut line
Fig. 5. Snap the board along the cut line in and it should break away cleanly
cutting paper side of plasterboard with knife
Fig.6. Cut the paper on the other side

Fix Plasterboard

  1. Start from one corner of the room. Slowly raise and place the first sheet using a plasterboard lifter. Line up the plasterboard with the chalk lines that mark the centre of the joists (see Fig 4 below)
  2. Using 38mm plasterboard screws, fix the board to the joists
  3. Fit screws every 150mm, but remember to keep them at least 12mm away from the cut edges and 10mm away from manufactured edges
  4. Fasten the sheet before removing the lift and moving onto the next sheet. For now, just drive enough screws in so that they safely hold the sheet in place
  5. When all the sheets are up, add a new set of chalk lines over the sheets (use the tape on the wall as a guide) and add the remaining screws
plasterboard lifter
Fig. 7. Fixing plasterboard to ceiling

For more information on how to overboard artex ceilings with plasterboard, please watch the video below:

Taping and Jointing

To produce a nice finish for decorating, tape, joint and sand the ceiling smooth.

1. When all the plasterboards are in place, tape over the joints with perforated plasterboard tape.

taping ceiling joints
Fig. 8. Tape joints

2. Mix up some joint compound by following the instructions on the bag

mixing joint compound
Fig. 9. Mix joint compound

3. Using a taping knife, lightly spread the jointing compound over the taped joints. A wide-bladed taping knife will feather out the compound, leaving only a tiny ridge to be rubbed down once it’s dry.

applying joint compound over taped joints
Fig. 10. Apply joint compound over taped joints

4. Leave the ceiling to dry for 24 hours and then sand it down using 120-grit sandpaper.

Pro Tip: When sanded, the jointing compound creates a fine dust that irritates our skin when showering. To help avoid this, open all doors and windows before you start sanding. Also remember to wear goggles, gloves and a good dust mask.

Finishing Along Wall-Ceiling Join

To get a neat finish where your wall meets your ceiling, use a paper-faced metal angle bead stuck in place with jointing compound.

measuring and cutting angle bead
Fig. 11. Paper-faced metal angle bead

1. Measure the width of your wall 

2. Cut the angle bead 12.5mm less than the width of your wall

3. Mix the jointing compound in a bucket and spread it on the wall-ceiling join with a filling knife, covering just beyond where the angle bead will fit.

4. Press the angle bead into the wall-ceiling join

applying angle bead
Fig. 12. Fit Paper-faced metal angle bead

5. Cover the angle bead with a top coat of jointing compound

6. Smooth the top layer of jointing compound with an internal corner trowel

smoothing jointing compound
Fig. 13. Smooth jointing compound

Don’t fancy doing this job yourself?

Then find top-rated plasterers in your area by clicking the button below:

How to Plasterboard a Ceiling – Final Thoughts

For more info on taping and jointing, please watch the video below from Silver at Siniat:

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide and you now know how to plasterboard a ceiling. If so, please share this guide with others using the social share buttons below.