How to Make a Wood Plank Ceiling

Give your ceiling a makeover with this simple weekend project. No professional help necessary!

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If you really want to make an impression with your latest room makeover, think outside the four walls with a wood plank ceiling. This project is an easy, efficient way to tie a room together while making a statement. While it may seem like a job for a professional, any handy homeowner with the right tools and a little bit of arm strength can pull it off. Check out our step-by-step instructions below to learn more. 

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What You Need

  • Wood planks
  • Trim molding
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Miter saw
  • Finish nailer
  • Nails
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Chalk line or laser level
  • Spacers
  • Sandpaper
  • Adhesive
  • Wood filler
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Prep Planks

Prep tongue-and-groove planks by recutting the ends of each plank and using the miter saw to create a 45-degree angle on the ends to help minimize the joint line. Lightly sand planks and wipe clean.

Step 2: Locate Joists

Joists are like studs, but for the ceiling. Locate a joist in the ceiling with a stud finder and mark using the chalk line. Once you've found one joist, the rest are evenly spaced from there, thus being easier to find. Make chalk lines along every joist. You will install the planks in the opposite direction of the joists to make sure the planks are securely installed. 

Step 3: Install Planks

Apply adhesive to the backside of each plank and nail plank into place, making sure to nail where the joist is. Make sure to leave an expansion gap of 1/4-inch around perimeter. Stagger the angled joints with each of the planks on the ceiling so that all the joints don't align with the previous row.

Continue plank installation from one side of the room to the other.

Step 4: Work Around Light Fixtures

To install planks around a light fixture, hold plank in place but do not install. Trace light fixture hole on plank; cut wood with jigsaw and lightly sand raw edges before installing.

Step 5: Touch Up

Use a putty knife to fill in holes with paintable wood filler; let dry. Lightly sand the excess off until smooth.

Step 6: Prime and Paint

Prime and paint planks and trim pieces—preferably before installation to make sure all pieces are covered with paint. This comes in handy when planks expand and contract with temperature changes.

Note: To make sure your paint is the color and sheen you want, first paint a spare plank and let dry. View it in the same room as the planked ceiling to make sure you have accurate lighting.  

Step 7: Install Trim

Install trim piece around perimeter of room to conceal expansion gap.

Fill nail holes and finish seam gaps with paintable caulk. Touch up with paint as needed.

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