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Install a Wood-Plank Ceiling

Construction How-To, Projects, Remodeling March 16, 2017 Sonia

Although you can’t use a floor sander, keep in mind that unfinished wood needs to be sanded in order to take the stain uniformly. You’ll have to hand-sand the boards before finishing them, otherwise the rough spots will drink too much stain and become dark blotches.


Ceiling installation is generally the same as for a floor, and you should take the same steps to prepare, such as acclimating the wood to the space where it will be installed.

Begin in one corner of the starting row and stagger the end joints between rows.

In general, floor planks should be installed perpendicular to the ceiling joists, although the presence of a plywood sub-ceiling or a layer of perpendicular furring strips will allow you to install parallel to the joists.

For finished ceilings, first disconnect the electricity and remove all light fixtures and other obstacles. If the framing is not exposed, use a stud finder on the ceiling to locate ceiling joists. Snap chalk lines along each joist location.

The tongue of the new planks insert into the groove of the installed rows to form a strong linear joint.

You’ll face the same general layout issues as with any standard floor layout. Measure the ceiling for area and divide by the exposed face of a plank. Make sure you won’t be left with a small sliver of boards on the final row of the ceiling. If this is the case, then begin installation with a ripped partial board to allow room for a larger board on the final row.

Use a hammer and strike block to close the joints and lock the planks together.

Also, check the ceiling for square. If the diagonal measurements in each corner aren’t the same, you should create a square straight line as a starting point. Measure from the far wall to the tongue of the starting row. Use a long, straight piece of flooring material as a gauge to show where the front of the row should lay. Adjust its position along the starter wall until the measurements from the far wall to its tongue (which faces the near wall) are the same in each corner of the room. Mark the tongue edge and use that line as a guide to lay your first row. The key is to create a line parallel to the end wall. Remember, this first row is the place to make adjustments because you can tuck the starter board under trim or molding to hide the gap. You can also rip the tongues off the first row to reduce the size of the gap.

It helps to tack the boards in place temporarily to free your hands and then come back to fill in the remaining fasteners.