Defeating Joist Lines In Your Ceiling (Causes & Cures)

Joists play a crucial role in the construction of a ceiling. As they run horizontally from one side to the other, joists support anything that is attached to the ceiling such as drywall. They also give your ceiling a solid frame.

Once the ceiling is finished, joists are not supposed to be visible. So, if you’re seeing joist lines on a finished ceiling, there is a problem.

In this article, we’ll be exploring why joist lines appear on ceilings and some of the ideal remedies for this problem.

Construction Worker Plastering Ceiling With Work Tool

What Causes Joist Lines to Appear on a Finished Ceiling?

To emphasize what I’ve mentioned above, joist lines shouldn’t be visible on a professionally finished ceiling. In case you’re seeing joist lines on your ceiling, here are some of the potential causes;

• Poor Workmanship During the Construction of the Ceiling

This is one of the reasons why you should always work with professional contractors. During the construction of your ceiling, your contractor may consider attaching the drywall to the bottom of the joists.

There is nothing wrong with that. But, if they leave gaps between drywall or don’t apply sufficient tape, the joist lines may become visible if the joint is directly above it.

The other workmanship mistake that can lead to the appearance of joist lines in the ceiling is the use of thinner drywall panels.

Eventually, the ceiling joists will sag and create visible lines. It’s advisable to always stick to standard drywall panels for ceilings which should be ½ inch thick.

• Structural Movements in the Ceiling

No matter how solid your joist frame is, it is susceptible to structural movements over time. When this happens, the joists on your ceiling can become more prominent especially if your ceiling has a smooth finish. This is most common in older homes that have experienced lots of structural movements.

• Moisture Damage

When erecting a ceiling, you need to try to the best of your abilities to keep moisture away. Should moisture creep into your ceiling, it can cause some elements such as the joists to sag. This can make joist lines more visible on your ceiling.

What are the Best Remedies for Joist Lines in the Ceiling?

Even though it’s annoying to see joist lines on your ceiling, several solutions can get rid of this problem. Here are some of my favorite remedies for dealing with joist lines on the ceiling;

• Texturing

Texturing is a type of finish that is used to decorate ceilings. However, it can also be used to conceal issues such as protruding joist lines.

There are many ceiling texturing techniques. Go through all of them and find one that you like. Then spray the texture or apply it manually using a trowel.

This is an easy DIY job. But if you’re not a DIY enthusiast, I’d advise you to hire an expert so that you can get a consistent and professional finish.

Please note that texturing doesn’t get rid of the underlying problem. It only covers it. So, should you decide to switch to a smooth ceiling, the joist lines will still be visible.

• Install Ceiling Tiles

Also known as ceiling panels, this is another excellent material that can conceal joist lines on your ceiling.

Commonly found in commercial properties, ceiling tiles are lightweight panels that are made out of aluminum or steel. They don’t just add beauty to your ceiling but they can help with sound and thermal insulation.

With ceiling tiles, you would also enjoy more benefits other than getting rid of the joist lines. Not to mention, ceiling tiles are available in a wide range of finishes and patterns.

• Apply an Extra Layer of Plaster or Joint Compound

If you still want that smooth finish on your ceiling but you want to get rid of the joist lines, you can add ab extra layer of plaster or joint compound.

In this case, you’ll be treating the joist lines as a blemish that you intend to cover with plaster or joint compound.

Depending on how prominent the joist lines in your ceiling are, you may have to add several coats to conceal them completely.

Can a Ceiling Redo Get Rid of Joist Lines?

This happens to be the best remedy for getting rid of joist lines on your ceiling. The only problem is that it’s expensive, invasive, and time-consuming. The purpose of a ceiling redo is to correct the workmanship mistakes that were done in the prior installation.

For instance, through a ceiling redo, you can adequately space your joists, switch to thicker drywall panels, minimize gaps, and thoroughly tape and cover with joint compound all the joints on your ceiling.

If you’re up for the task, I would advise you to perform a whole ceiling redo. And if done correctly, you’ll never have to deal with joist lines on your ceiling for the rest of your life.

In case you’re interested in a redo and are on a tight budget, you can utilize furring strips instead of replacing drywall panels. These strips can be attached next to the joists before the drywall to create a level surface.

Why Do People Dislike the Appearance of Joist Lines in the Ceiling?

It mostly has to do with aesthetics. If joist lines are appearing on your ceiling, every time you look up, you’ll always feel annoyed or irritated.

The appearance of joist lines on a ceiling can make your interior come off as inconsistent. Also, if you’re a fan of smooth ceilings, the presence of joist lines will disrupt your design.

The funny thing, some people don’t care about the appearance of joist lines in their ceilings and live with them as they are. But if it irritates you, there are plenty of remedies you can explore to achieve a more polished look.

What Else Can Cause the Appearance of Lines on Your Ceiling?

Before you start using the remedies listed above to get rid of joist lines on your ceiling, you need to understand that other things can also cause a similar defect.

There’s something known as ghosting and it’s often caused when dust and soot particles stick to the ceiling.

The problem here is that ghosting can also occur in perfectly straight lines as is the case with joist lines. As a homeowner, it can be difficult to tell which problem you’re dealing with.

The reason ghosting in the ceiling follows a straight line is that it occurs along the framing of your ceiling where the insulation is weaker.

To differentiate between the appearance of joist lines and ghosting, in the latter, the lines often appear discolored or gray.

However, in typical joist lines, there will only be a protrusion but not a color change. Also, protruding joists in your ceiling appear as perfectly straight lines. With ghosting, you’ll notice some meanders on the line.

Even though these ceiling problems look similar, the remedies are different. To deal with ghosting, you should enhance the insulation of your roof and minimize interior humidity.

Investing in a dehumidifier would be a great idea. You should also stay away from lighting candles or combustible oils inside your home. These produce a lot of soot which quickly finds its way to the ceiling.

If you’re unsure whether the lines on your ceiling are caused by ghosting or protruding joists, don’t hesitate to call for help. This will save you a lot of time and money in the long run, instead of using the wrong remedies.

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