According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. One-third of these fatalities specifically are falls from high places like roofs and ceilings. In 2018, there were 320 fatal falls in 1,008 construction fatalities. Typical ceilings are 9 to 12 feet above floors. As such, ceiling installations and repairs have an inherent risk of falls from dangerous heights. This risk is higher for a multi-story building, in which you need scaffolds or ladders to access the ceiling.
Professionals ceiling installers and contractors mitigate this risk using gears and safety technologies, such as personal fall arrest (PFA) systems, safety nets, and warning line systems. Most homeowners ensure they hire professional ceiling contractors nearby who understand the relevant safety measures to reduce ceiling installation hazards and can provide adequate answers to the following questions.
Licenses give contractors the legal authority to operate in a state. The requirements for licensing for ceiling work contractors vary from state to state. For example, in Massachusetts, Alabama, and Hawaii, applicants are required to sit and pass licensing exams before they can proceed with the licensing process.
You can verify a ceiling work contractor's license with the state labor department or the licensing board by cross-checking the licensing information against the state licensing database. For instance, the State of California has an online license board where interested persons can check the validity of all licenses issued in the state. The State of Washington also has a Verification Tool for the same purpose. Likewise, the Pennsylvania Department of State maintains an online license verification software.
If your state does not have an online license verification service, you can visit the state licensing agency’s physical location near you to verify a ceiling contractor license. You could also verify the ceiling work contractor’s license status and experience from the official website of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.
In 2019, 1,061 workers were victims of fatal accidents on construction sites across the US, representing three deaths daily. In the same year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported over 12,000 work-related nonfatal injuries and illnesses. It is important to always hire a contractor that has proper insurance, this protects you from liability when an accident occurs at work.
A ceiling work contractor is expected to have two types of insurance policies. The first is General Liability Insurance that protects the contractor against damages that occur on your premises or with the completed work. The second is Workers’ Compensation Insurance, which covers the workers against injuries while working on your site. Ensure that your ceiling work contractor has both insurance policies. You should also verify that the policies are updated.
Although ceiling work contractors are not required by law to be bonded, hiring a contractor near you who holds a surety bond limits your liability in case the contractor fails to complete the job. Homeowners can make claims on such bonds to access funds that can be used to pay another contractor to complete the job. To be on the safe side, request to see the ceiling contractor’s bond certificate to be sure it is still valid.
You need a contractor nearby that specializes in installing the particular type of ceiling you require. The most common types of ceiling include;
- Conventional Ceiling - These are low-cost ceilings that are standard in many homes. They are usually 8 feet high and may sometimes rise to 10 feet. These ceiling types can make a room appear higher.
- Coffered Ceiling - This kind of ceiling is made of sunken panels of different shapes. They are common in churches, libraries, and hotels. Because of how unique they are and the work involved, they are expensive, though less stressful, to install.
- Suspended Ceiling - These are also referred to as dropped ceilings. They have a metal grid where they hang from. It is a good choice if you want to hide wiring and plumbings. A commonplace to find this kind of ceiling is in the basement of a building.
- Coved Ceiling - These ceilings have curved edges. They tend to form a dome-like design and are built using a curved mold.
- Tray Ceiling - They are also called inverted ceilings. It looks like an inverted tray set in a ceiling. This creates a 3-D effect in the room and can give the room a sense of height.
- Beam Ceiling - Also known as exposed beam ceilings, they are made of joists and beams. They are created to draw the eye upwards and make a room appear larger than it is.
- Cathedral Ceiling - These ceilings are shaped like an inverted V. They are also known as vaulted ceilings. It is common to find them in living rooms and dining rooms.
- Shed Ceiling - This is a common type of ceiling sloped only in one direction with the highest point on one side of the wall. They are used in homes with attics and allow for better ventilation and insulation.
It is not unusual for contractors to have several co-workers. You need to request information pertaining to the identities of the contractor’s co-workers that will be working on your project. It is equally important to verify if the contractor’s insurance covers them all. This verification assures that your liabilities are limited in case any of the co-workers suffer an injury on your job.
Ceiling work contractors will often offer warranties on completed jobs/projects. The exact details of a warranty, including its validity period, may vary from one contractor to the next. Insist to have this warranty in writing. If a contractor fails near you to honor the warranty, you may consult your state consumer protection office to know your available options. You may also get a manufacturer's warranty for the products used for the installation or repair.
Permit requirements for the reconstruction or remodeling of properties vary across states and municipalities. While some states are explicit on building projects that require permits, others are not. For instance, in the State of North Carolina, every construction, repair, installation, and replacement that costs $5,000 or more requires a permit. However, if it is roofing-related, such as ceiling, you need to obtain a permit, whether it is up to $5,000 or not.
In the City of Seattle, permits are for projects costing $6,000 or more. But the Seattle Residential Code is not clear on whether you need a permit for ceiling work. Due to the discrepancies in states’ and cities' building codes, it is advisable to confirm permit requirements from the local building department office near you before you commence on any ceiling work project.
Ceiling work contractors are likely to have pictures of previous works they have completed. These pictures could provide an easy reference for you to access the quality of work the contractor offers. To get more detailed references, you may request details of the contractor’s previous clients and reach out to them. It is expected that these details be verified. In cases where these references are not verifiable, you may rely on customer reviews on websites such as Google Review and Yelp.
Online platforms, such as Better Business Bureau, provide ratings of ceiling work contractors near you. They obtain their data from local customers of these brands and professionals.
Several types of ceiling problems would require immediate attention to protect your home. Some of the most common types of damage include:
- Ceiling Stains - A common cause of ceiling stain is water. This may be caused by leaky pipes or leaking roofs. At other times, clogged roof gutters can soak up the wall, leaving brown stains on your wall.
- Cracks - These are often due to temperature fluctuation in the building’s attic or the room’s settling temperature. These factors cause consistent expansion and contraction of the ceiling after a prolonged period, resulting in the appearance of cracks. It is best to apply fresh plaster once you notice a crack.
- Sagging ceiling - Water is a leading cause of this kind of problem, which occurs when it pools at a point on the roof, with the weight causing the ceiling to sag.
- Paint peeling - This occurs as a result of age. After many years, the paint on the ceiling will start to peel. You would notice paint flakes on the floor when this happens.
Ceiling work costs vary based on the work to be done and the type of tools and materials to be used. It also depends on your location, as labor rates differ from state to state. The cost of ceiling installation ranges from $600 to about $1800. On average, it costs $1310 regardless of the type of ceiling installation, whether it is drywall, tray, or drop ceiling. Ask your contractor for their specific charges, which you can also compare with other contractors near you to get the best deal.
Below are some types of ceiling and their approximate installation costs per square foot:
For ceiling repairs, the average cost is typically within the range of $352 to $1254. Repairs may cost between $60 and $90 per hour charge for a professional repair service. The average price range for ceiling repair per square foot is between $45 and $90. Nevertheless, it usually depends on the kind of repair needed and how much ceiling space is required to be repaired. Also, it may cost more to repair the ceiling of some sections of the house such as the bathroom and garage in keeping with best building practices. Some common ceiling repairs and their costs per square foot are listed below:
The most crucial factors that affect the cost of ceiling work include;
- Cost of labor - Minimum wages affect the cost of labor for typical ceiling work. In states where the minimum wage is higher, the cost of installation is higher. The reverse is the case in states where the minimum wage is lower.
- The type of work required - The extent and scope of work needed also play a crucial role in determining ceiling work costs. Work that only involves patching of a hairline crack would consume much less material and require less labor to complete. On the other hand, certain works such as repairs of sagging ceilings would require much resources.
- The type of ceiling - The kind of ceiling in question also determines what the cost will be. For instance, the cost of repairs for a suspended ceiling would vary from the cost of repair for conventional ceilings and so on.
- The type of material - Whether it is wood, ceiling tins, drywall, or any other material, different ceiling materials have their different costs, and the cost of the material influences the general cost of ceiling installation or repairs. Some house areas may also demand specific ceiling materials. For example, your bathroom ceiling may require water-resistant materials and so may cost more than the sitting room.
Ceiling work contractors do not require any formal education. The basic education they have for the job is often through on-the-job training, internship, or apprenticeship. On-the-job training involves working under a more experienced contractor to acquire the skills and knowledge to practice the trade. While for internships, there is a combination of on-the-job training with the right formal instruction. The apprenticeship would usually last for about 2-4 years.
Most bodies that offer apprenticeships would often require candidates to have at least a GED or a high school certificate before they qualify to join a formal apprenticeship. For advancements, there are various training and certification options available to such contractors. According to the recruitment expert firm, Zippia, about 8.6% of ceiling installers have a bachelor’s degree, while 2.9% have a master's degree. Still, a high school diploma is a standard qualification among contractors.
A ceiling work contractor is a specialist while a handyman is not. It is recommended to use a ceiling work contractor near you when you are looking for a nicely completed job that meets all the requirements of your local building codes and safety measures.
Ceiling work expenditure does not end after the installation of the ceiling. Depending on how neatly the work was executed, you may still spend some money and time on post-ceiling work exercises. The typical post ceiling work expenses include:
- Painting of the walls: if the wall was scratched or dirtied considerably during the ceiling work, you might have to repaint parts of the wall. At other times, you may consider repainting the whole house to ensure that the walls are evenly painted.
- Cleaning: The ceiling work contractor has the responsibility of leaving your home reasonably clean after the installation. However, not all contractors do this. Besides, after they might have cleaned up the place, your home furnishings may still be covered with fine dust. To clean up the house thoroughly, you could either do it yourself or hire a professional cleaner.
- Waste disposal: Ceiling work contractors may dump the debris from the installation outside of your house. This is not environmentally friendly and the debris should be disposed of properly. You should contact a local waste disposal service to attend to this.
The answer to whether homeowner insurance covers ceiling work or not is not clear-cut. Your insurance will generally cover your ceiling work if it is due to an accident or act of nature. If problems arise from a roof that has exceeded its lifespan or from wear and tear, insurance will not cover it. This is because the deterioration falls under the general maintenance of your property, which is expected of you.
Ceiling repair contractors near you are likely to accept digital payments such as bank transfers and debit/credit cards. Compared to traditional means of payment such as paper checks, digital payments are more efficient, faster, and more secure. You no longer need to depend on banks’ working hours and other protocols to get your transactions done as you can process payments with just a few simple clicks on a mobile app. The use of digital payment continues to gain acceptance among small business owners including ceiling installers. According to an eMarketer survey, total mobile payment in 2019 is over $98 billion, from $12.8 billion in 2012. However, some small businesses are yet to embrace such means of payment. Endeavor to verify from your contractor, to know which payment option suits them.