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ceiling of room is the underside of the roof--how to install ceiling?

A description of existing conditions (please, please forgive me if I've written too much. I'm not a contractor and I don't know what bare-bones facts are needed):

Our home was built in 1938 with a simple attic crawl space. In 1943 a permitted addition was built on the back of the house, comprising two rooms: a large family room/den, and something that might be called a utility room, mudroom, laundry room, or pantry.

Both have "gabled" ceilings. Or, I should say, just the underside of the roof.

In the family room it looks as though beams were attached to the underside of the roof--probably right against the plywood--then stained, and squares of noise-insulating panels were placed in the spaces between the beams. These beams aren't joists--there are no crossbeams--and seem to be entirely cosmetic. I've never seen what is behind those noise-insulating panels. I'm assuming it is simply the plywood that makes up the underside of the roof. There do not seem to have been any moisture problems at any point (we live in southern california), and those panels do provide a modicum of insulation against the heat.

As for the laundry room: as was fashionable at the time, the whole thing is walled in knotty pine. The ceiling is comprised of pine boards and the roof rests right on top of them: you can see the plywood between the 1/4" spaces between the pine boards. The sun bakes the dark roof and the heat radiates right into the room.

My question:
As much as I love the high, slanted "ceilings" we desperately need to install real ceilings in these back rooms, something with insulation or at least an air space to provide a buffer. All instructions that I have found ****** say that this is, essentially, a process of attaching some sort of ceiling to the joists. But there are no joists in these rooms.

As for dropped ceilings: I have yet to see an example that doesn't make the room look like a dentist's. I'd prefer wood-paneled ceilings or drywall...

What are the options?


Re: ceiling of room is the underside of the roof--how to install ceiling?

Get framers to come in and bid on this project, because you will need to install joists (and possible a beam, depending on the span).

Once the joists are in place, you just drywall, insulate the attic, etc.

Re: ceiling of room is the underside of the roof--how to install ceiling?

Based on what I can see from here ;-) , it looks like the beams you describe comprise the supporting structure of the roof. In other words, they ARE the rafters. (BTW, the term 'joist' describes a horizontal member. Rafters are angled.) This sounds very similar to the house I grew up in.

My father solved the insulation problem by applying foam board insulation to the underside of the plywood, between the beams. An appropriate finish material (such as gypsum drywall, wood paneling, or boards) is then applied to the underside of the foam board insulation. The foam board should not be left exposed, as it is not fire retardant.

Re: ceiling of room is the underside of the roof--how to install ceiling?

I had a house built like this once. It had exposed 3x8 rafters that sat on the outside walls and a ridge beam in the center. There were insulated panels on top of the rafters, but by the standards of the time it was built, they only provided an R7. The R7 was continuous though with no thermal breaks or conduction paths like you get in a typical roof. The house didn't cost anymore to heat than a same sized modern home in the area.

Some of my neighbors when replacing the roof would have the roofing company lay down sheets of foam over the insulated panels and then plywood and shingles over them to increase the roof insulation. This left the interior intact and did not destroy the charm of these houses. But it was only worth doing when you had to replace the roof anyway

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