How to plank a ceiling… without removing the popcorn first!
This super cool project is part of my most recent master bathroom makeover.
One of the main features in the master bathroom makeover was the planked ceiling.
Planked ceilings are gorgeous! I mean, I’d welcome this crisp, clean, timeless look for every ceiling in my own home!
Planked ceilings actually aren’t new to this old house.
This white planked ceiling resides downstairs in my photo studio.
When I moved in, there WAS no ceiling, just a jumble of wires. The planks finished it off beautifully! But at the time with no skills (and no guts), I had the install done for me. And I’ve loved it ever since.
However if you look really close, you’ll note some separations in the boards.
I did not paint the boards before they went up and I did not crack fill anything after they went up.
It’s still pretty with a more rustic feel!
However using that as a guide to try and do better, here’s how to plank a ceiling… without removing the popcorn first… my way!
PS: And it turned out amazing!
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How to plank a ceiling
1 x 4 for the crown mouldings
primer and paint
paint brush and roller
chunk of wood
wood filler and caulking
nail gun and nails (I used 1 ¾”)
hammer and one big nail
lots and lots of room for painting boards
someone to make dinner for you (I ordered out!)
1. Prime and paint your planks with a brush.
I picked up some thin, pine tongue and groove planks in a bundle from Home Depot.
Prepaint the planks
Prime and paint the planks and tongue and groove edges with a quality paint brush.
For quicker coverage, you can roll on the flat surfaces, then smooth out right after with a wide paint brush to avoid orange peel.
* Julie via Follow Your Heart Woodworking suggests to shellac wood knots in case they bleed through. Good idea!
Update: The wood knots came through several years later so it’s a good tip!
How to get the whitest white paint
I used a tip from Makely School for Girls, called Lindsay White. 🙂 Lindsay describes it best, but she says if you add a little colour to your paint, even the same colour, your coverage will be less opaque and cover better. She was right!
2. Ungunk the tongues and grooves.
You’ll end up with a little bit of paint buildup where the wood needs to fit together.
Run an exacto knife along each painted edge to remove the gunk.
Mark out the ceiling joists
3. Find the ceiling joists.
You’ll need to locate the ceiling joists (and they way they run) so you have something to nail the boards to.
I totally lucked out that the joists ran the opposite way my planks were to go down. If they ran the same direction, I would have either had to add wood strips to the ceiling first, or change my plank direction.
How to check for ceiling joists
If you can’t pick up the joists with a stud finder, this is what I did:
Pound a big nail into the ceiling with a hammer until you find one. Then measure 12 – 16″ away from it to find the next one.
Attaching the planks
4. Cut boards to right length, then nail into ceiling.
Placing the narrow side of the board towards the wall and the slot towards you, nail in your first plank.
See how I drew a couple of lines to guide my way while I nailed in boards?
Also note, I chose to only use planks that ran the entire width of the room to avoid joins. You’ll waste more wood this way, but I plan to use the cut offs for future projects anyway.
If you join your wood with joins, just make sure you stagger them.
Where to nail
Place two nails on each joist and one or two nails on each end.
How to join the tongue and groove
Once your first piece is in place, dry fit your next piece to check for fit. If it won’t willingly slip into place (which 99.9% of them won’t), place a small chunk of wood against the board, then tap the board in place with a rubber mallet.
Some will fit. Some won’t fit. Rather than fight the ones that didn’t, I just nailed them in place anyway and continued, resonating that filler would take care of the gaps. I was right.
Measure periodically for staying square.
Wall jogs, ceiling fans or light fixtures will likely be in your future.
Measure areas against the walls, then pencil onto your cut to size boards.
To trim, I clamped the wood into a workmate, then cut with a jigsaw.
It’s all good. A little humour will help get you through this…
Caulking the gaps and nail holes
5. Fill in holes and cracks with filler and caulk.
You’re going to be left with some gaps in between wood slats as well as nail holes, so filling them in will improve the finish. Dramatically.
Fill nail head holes with filler (I like the featherweight spackling), then sand. Caulk in between boards wherever there’s a gap.
How to caulk – best tips from a pro!
I learned this little tip from a pro moulding guy, so heed this advice because it’s golden. This gives you totally control over how it goes on.
- cut caulk tube on a small angle
- apply caulk
- release the gun pressure
- then wet your finger with water
- run it along the fresh caulk
- follow up with a wet rag
Keep your fingers, caulk tip and caulked areas spotless, and you’ll have perfect lines and very little clean up afterwards.
After you’re done, stab a nail or screw into the opening so it doesn’t dry out.
A separate post on this topic alone may be a good idea… the right way makes a world of difference.
Finishing paint coat
6. Spot prime, then repaint where needed.
I spot primed over the nail holes with a brush, then rolled the entire ceiling with finishing paint, following with brush strokes to remove the orange peel texture.
Crown moulding shown are 1 x 4s. Simple!
And that is how to plank a ceiling… without removing the popcorn first!
I am so thrilled with the outcome of this gorgeous planked ceiling! It’s pretty much flawless due to the pre painting and finishing done. Well worth the extra work!
I suggest to start with a smaller room to build some experience before tackling a bigger area. Especially if you’re doing it solo.
Think you’ll try to plank a ceiling of your own? Which room would you start with?
Other related posts you may enjoy:
Visit all parts to Master Bathroom 2014 HERE