DIY Tongue-and-Groove Wood Ceiling

Updated on April 8, 2019
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Samantha is a mom of four who loves crafting, DIY home improvements, and interior design.

What to Do With an Ugly Ceiling?

If you live in an older house, you probably have ugly patterns on your ceilings. You've probably stared up at them countless times, wishing they would go away. I know your pain and I'm here to tell you that there is a solution.

I purchased our 1984 home when I was 21 years old as our first home. Unfortunately, it only had one very small bathroom. Within the first three months, we decided to enlarge the bathroom by removing the hall closet, giving us room for a larger vanity. That left us with a closet-sized patch on our ceiling. We tried to match the star pattern but were completely unsuccessful, and that ugly patch of drywall stayed like that for years while I tried to decide how to fix it. Eventually we outgrew the house, but I obviously couldn't sell it with an unfinished bathroom ceiling, so I had to do something.

I read a few blogs on how to scrape a popcorn ceiling and figured I could do that. I began to scrape when I realized that the star-patterned mess was not popcorn ceiling, it was sheetrock mud stamped in a pattern. It did not want to come off at all! I was able to get some of the higher peaks knocked down, but there was no way it was ever going to be smooth. That's the moment I realized I needed another plan.

The scraping attempt and the mess it left behind.
The scraping attempt and the mess it left behind.
Enter tongue-and-groove ceilings!
Enter tongue-and-groove ceilings!

If You Can't Scrape It, Consider Covering It With Tongue-and-Groove Wood

I needed a plan "B". After watching a ton of HGTV specials and scrolling through thousands of ideas on Pinterest, I came across an antique farmhouse with a wooden ceiling and it was as if a lightbulb had gone off. Tongue-and-groove wood would be a fantastic way to cover up the mess we had created!

I went to Home Depot and came across tongue-and-groove pine. This is exactly what I needed, and it was cost-efficient. I found planks that were 6" wide and 96" long that cost $48 for a six pack. Luckily, the length was about an inch longer than our small bathroom. We only needed about four packs of these, meaning we spent $200 on wood for our ceiling (not including the crown molding)!

Tools You Will Need:

  1. Tongue-and-groove planks
  2. Finish nail gun
  3. Finishing nails
  4. Caulk
  5. Sandpaper
  6. Primer
  7. Paint
  8. Crown molding

The kids helped me pick out wood!
The kids helped me pick out wood!

Step 1: Nail Boards in Place

  1. Place your first plank right up against the wall (groove towards the wall) and use your nail gun to nail it in place. I put a nail every two feet or so.
  2. Interlock the next piece by locking the tongue into the groove and nail it into place.
  3. Do this until your ceiling is complete.

Tongue-in-Groove Boards Partially in Place
Tongue-in-Groove Boards Partially in Place

Step 2: Install Crown Molding

Once your wood ceiling is installed, you can put up your crown molding. There are several ways to install it, but we did ours at a 45-degree angle and nailed it into the ceiling and wall.

Step 3: Fill the Seams and Nail Holes

You need to use caulk to fill in all the seams and nail holes.

  1. Using the caulk gun, squeeze the handle and run the tip of the tube along your seam.
  2. Then run your finger along the caulk line to smooth it out. Wipe the excess off your finger occasionally. You can also use a damp rag to smooth the caulk line for a nice finish.
  3. Do the same for your nail holes.

Ready to be sanded and painted.
Ready to be sanded and painted.

Step 4: Sand the Ceiling

Give a rough sand to your ceiling to make sure you've got a splinter-free surface to paint. Pay special attention to the areas that you caulked to make sure those blend in smoothly. You want to make sure that once you paint, you can't tell where the nail holes are.

Step 5: Prime and Paint!

Prime the ceiling first to make sure there's a moisture barrier. Especially if it's a bathroom or a kitchen; remember that steam is not good for wood. Then you can paint your color of choice.

Final product!
Final product!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Samantha Adams


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