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Install a Wood-Plank Ceiling

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


The reason to establish the square first row is to avoid having odd pie-shaped planks at the final row.

Hiding fasteners inside the beadboard joints helps to disguise their location.

Begin installation of the wood flooring at the corner of your starter row. The tongue side of the plank installs against the wall. Depending on type of flooring, some planks will not only have a tongue-and-groove edge but also tongue-and-groove ends. Stagger the end-joints from row to row. The tongue edge of the second row will fit into the groove of the installed first row.

Keep a circular saw handy to cut the final plank on each row to size.

It’s smart to place 1/4-in. spacer blocks between the wall edges and the ceiling planks to allow for expansion of the wood. You can remove these spacers after the planks are installed and conceal the gap with molding.

Installation is a two-man job, and scaffolding will provide a much safer and user-friendly work platform than a couple of stepladders.

Fasten the planks into the joists with nails or screws. You can blind-nail into the tongue-and-groove joint, or you can drive fasteners into the board face and cover with wood filler later (or do both). Construction glue such as 100-percent urethane flooring adhesive will help anchor the planks securely to the wallboard or plywood (if applicable) while reducing the need for fasteners. Gluing will also prevent the planks from rattling and vibrating.

Butt the planks’ end-joints closely together but avoid driving fasteners closer than an inch from the end grain to avoid splitting the wood.

The Livelys used wood blocks beneath the legs of the scaffolding to protect the floor.

A pneumatic nail gun will speed up installation dramatically. Fastener gauge is usually determined by board thickness. In addition to a nail gun, keep a saw on hand to cut the last board in each row to size. Use a hammer and strike-block to push the planks together and lock the tongue-and-groove joints. Scaffolding will also be a huge help when hanging the planks on the ceiling.

Molding or Trim strips can be used to conceal the cut plank edges against the wall. The Livelys used the same floor planks as the ceiling to create decorative wall cladding that concealed the edges.

When you encounter any air vents or electrical boxes, trace the cutout on the wood planks with a pencil and make any curved or intricate cuts with a jigsaw.

Complete the project with lights, fans or other amenities in a finish that complements the new wood ceiling.

To add a finishing touch, the cut edges of the planks along the wall edges can be hidden with molding or trim strips stained to match the new ceiling.