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I am buying a BISF house shortly and have been recommended by a surveyor (and kind people on here) to remove polystyrene ceiling tiles and coving, then to overboard and skim in case of a gap between walls and ceilings (which is probably there).

Not all the ceilings have the tiles so it would be living room, dining room and one bedroom. Just wondered what sort of cost this might entail, how long a job would it be and how messy?

Many thanks in advance for any help / advice




It will be a fairly messy job to do, depending on how well they have been glued on they can be a right pain in the neck to remove. I assume you are going to plasterboard and skim costs are going to vary depending where you are in the country but I would take a guess at £2500 +. Get as many quotes as you can but don't just go with the cheapest and do check out their references.

thank you - that's more than I thought! Is the fire risk significant with them in place?


If you ever intend to rent the property as far as I am aware they would be illegal to keep. The real problem apart from being very flammable is if you have a fire as they burn they drip melted plastic. To be honest you really are much better of with having them removed or you could plasterboard on top of the tiles and skim over that would be a cheaper option. Some people do paint them with Latex or intumescent paint which can help a bit with fire.

This is really helpful thank you, so plasterboarding (and skimming?) over them would be an option? Cheaper and not as messy would make that a much better option for me so would that be worth doing and give a good outcome? At the moment I have no intentions to rent it out but having not yet bought the house do you think this would give me good reason to go back to the buyers to renegotiate on the price?


It is worth a try and try to negotiate the price down a bit, you would end up with a fine finish as long as it is down properly. Plasterboarding and skimming it over is certainly the easiest and most cost effective way.


thanks very much @johnch121 that's all been really helpful



Hi Salbar,

John has provided some great advice there.

Just a couple of things I need to mention.

Some BISF Houses were fitted with fibreboard panels to the ceilings, instead of plasterboard. Partly, because at the time of building, plasterboard was in short supply as most of it was being used up in the Emergency Housing drive that the government had created. Much of the plasterboard was directed toward the construction of temporary pre-fabs and other constructions.

Fibre board itself has a number of issues. The first being that it too is highly flammable and as a result, should always be removed if possible.

Secondly, Fibre Board is very porous and because of this, it does not always play nicely when being plastered/ skimmed as it draws the moisture out of the plaster skim, causing it to dry far too quickly, even when sealants such as PVA have been used in advance.

Third, because of its porosity, it often warps creating an uneven ceiling and this warping can increase when the plaster skim is applied, due to the absorption of water.

This does not mean that your ceilings are 100% fibre board as some BISF Houses were fitted with them and others were not, depending upon local availability at the time.

But, you need to try and identify which boards you have. You may find whilst removing the tiles, that some of the original surface covering of the board pulls away. If it does, this may expose a criss-cross fibre type material underneath, indicating fibre-board. If you see a chalky, plaster like material, then you most likely have plasterboard fitted.

I have re-boarded my entire house but initially, I did try to overboard but the result in my case was not good. Apart from the issue of trying to locate fixing points on which to anchor my 'over' boards, I found that even the slightest warp in the existing boards caused the ceiling to be uneven.

I also called in a team of pro plasters to skim over the existing fibre boards (before I knew of their inherent risk), and the result was truly terrible. They even tied to apply a second skim coat but that too did not look great.

In my experience, if you want truly crisp, square and sharply edged walls and ceilings, then re-boarding in the best way. That's only my personal view. 

I saved a lot of money by removing the old boards and fitting the new myself. I'm just an average person with some DIY skills. The main cost for me, was the plastering.

We do have a video that shows the location of the bedroom ceiling joists prior to re-boarding.

Also, take a look at our Stripdown Gallery, showing what the house looks like when all the existing boards have been removed. It will give you a better idea of what's underneath.

thank you @bisfadmin that gives me so much info. On first read through that all seemed horribly daunting but less so on watching the video clip and reading again. Would the living room ceiling be the same as the bedroom ceiling in the video as to the joists etc?

If the tiles are attached to plasterboard does that mean they would come off more easily and maybe only need skimming instead of replacing?

If the tiles are fairly 'new' and are fire retardant would you still recommend they be removed (even if they haven't been painted over)? 

As we are in the process of buying all I can do at the mo is ask the seller if they have this info (the house is empty and is being sold by an executor so it's more tricky to find these things out). 

I'm not a natural DIYer but could give removing boards a go if it becomes necessary. And I suppose waiting until summer would be sensible. Is this a 'big' job cost wise and is it worth going back to the seller to renegotiate do you think?

Thank you (both) again



If you do have fiber board I would echo te advice you have been given and remove it due to the fire risk, removing the fiber board or plasterboard is not a very hard job just fairly messy. I would hire a skip as trying to take plasterboard down a local dump is not so easy now and most charge to dump it.

Fitting plasterboard is not very hard to do, and even with limited DIY knowledge you shouldn't have to many problems putting up plasterboard. 


thanks for all the help and advice, it's great to feel better informed


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