Restoration Guide: Introduction to Ceiling and Floor

Shannon Lee

Editor's Note: This is article 1 of 6 in of Old House Web's Restoration Guide. This guide was developed and edited for old homes from original materials in the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rehab Guide.

Old House Web's Restoration Guide is a nine-part resource meant to assist homeowners, restoration experts, engineers, architects, and others who perform structural work on old homes. The guide includes useful information and relevant links to articles on Old House Web and elsewhere.

Volume 5 of The Rehab Guide covers Partitions, Ceilings, Floors, and Stairs. The focus is on housing rehabilitation, or restoring a home to good, livable condition. Instead of focusing on large projects, such as room additions or building a deck, the content of the Rehab Guide series focuses on technology, materials, and techniques meant to make the most of an existing home structure.


Rehab Guide 5 offers easy-to-understand instructions on repairing walls and ceilings, reconstructing stairs, firming up floors, fixing trim, and more. The guide puts special emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainability, and accessible design that meet HUD guidelines.

The Floor/Ceiling Structural Assemblies section provides information on common structural problems and the best way to remedy them without tearing down the existing structure. It also focuses on lumber options, how to handle deterioration from moisture, and how to repair fire-damaged areas or sound issues.

The section on sheathing, subflooring, and underlayment includes helpful information on how to repair common minor issues like floor squeaks, as well as how to handle larger repairs, such as a total replacement of damaged sheathing and underlayment.

The Finish Flooring section covers everything from repairing wooden floors to removing stains to mending vinyl flooring. Ceramic tile and carpeting are discussed, as well.

In the Finish Walls and Ceiling Materials section, current information is presented on plaster and drywall, including how to repair holes and water damage. Painting, wall coverings, and molding and trim are all included in this section of the home restoration guide.

Finally, a section dedicated to stairs focuses on replacement and repair of treads and risers, sagging and broken stairs, and damaged balusters. Prefabricated stairs and attic stair units also are covered.

Table of Contents for the Partitions, Ceilings, Floors, and Stairs Guide:

  1. Introduction
  2. Floor, Ceilings and Structural Assemblies
  3. Sheathing, Subflooring and Underlayments
  4. Finish Flooring
  5. Finish Wall and Ceiling Materials
  6. Stairs

Partitions, Ceilings, Floors, and Stairs Preservation and Restoration Sources

The information included in the Rehab Guide was carefully chosen from several reputable sources, including manufacturers, suppliers, conferences, trade shows, builders, and the like. Also included were trade organizations, research centers, reports, and publications.

Contributing publications include:

  • Carpet: Installation and Maintenance for Maximum Performance (Carpet and Rug Institute)
  • Energy Design Update
  • Environmental Building News
  • Floors and Stairways (Time-Life Books)
  • House Painting Inside and Out (Taunton Press)
  • Home Energy
  • Journal of Light Construction
  • Old House Journal
  • Respectful Rehabilitation: Walls and Moldings (Preservation Press)
  • This Old House
  • Traditional Builder

The U.S. Department of Energy offers a great deal of additional information for homeowners, as does the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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