How to Install a Plywood Ceiling

A stack of plywood.
  • 6-24 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-250
What You'll Need
Safety glasses
Electric stud finder
Chalk line
Panel adhesive
Pneumatic nail gun
Rubber mallet
Wood molding
Finishing nails
Wood putty
Wood stain
Putty knife
Lint-free cloth
Drop cloth

Installing a plywood ceiling adds visual appeal to your home. Plywood ceilings create a natural feel in your house for a small amount of money.

When choosing the plywood, always select high-quality wood for the best results. Use plywood panels that are ½ inch thick or slimmer to guarantee easy installation.

Measure the the ceiling to determine how many panels will be needed. Often, you can have the panels cut to size for little cost at a lumberyard or home improvement store where you purchase the plywood.

WARNING: Any time you're using sandpaper or chemicals on a ceiling, you'll want to wear safety glasses to keep the products from getting into your eyes.

Step 1 - Locate Ceiling Joists

Use a stud finder to locate all ceiling joists and mark their locations with a pencil. Then mark the joist by snapping a chalk line across the ceiling. The plywood will be installed perpendicular to the joists.

Step 2 - Glue Plywood

Glue the precut plywood in place using panel adhesive. Apply the adhesive to the plywood in a thin, serpentine patterned line. Place plywood on the ceiling pushing it against the edge. Use the pneumatic nail gun to put the plywood in place. Place the nails where you marked the ceiling joist.

Continue this process for each plywood panel, using a rubber mallet to butt the panels as close together as possible.

TIP: Before you start applying glue, put drop cloths on furniture or move it out of the room. You don't want to get any glue on them, and you'll need them protected or removed from the room for the next steps anyway.

Step 3 - Add Wood Molding

Place construction adhesive on the back of the precut wood molding. Align the molding with the edge of the ceiling. Use finishing nails to fasten it in place.

Step 4 - Sand

Fill all nail holes with wood putty using a small putty knife. When the putty has completely dried, use sandpaper to smooth any imperfections in the wood and the putty. Use a soft cloth to remove any dust from sanding.

Step 5 - Apply Wood Stain

Place a drop cloth. Use a lint free cloth to apply a stain to the ceiling according to the manufacturer's directions. Saturate the cloth with stain and use long, even strokes to apply stain to the ceiling. Once you begin staining, do not stop until the job is completed to ensure that the stain is even.

Use a small paintbrush to apply stain to the molding and seams. Apply a second coat if needed, focusing on areas that appear lighter. Once the stain is completely dry, apply a clear coat to seal the plywood.

Other Considerations

A plywood ceiling is typically installed for decorative purposes. They are commonly used as a drop or recessed ceiling.

Something as simple as hanging a light fixture can cause strain on this type of ceiling. A plywood ceiling is good for closets and other small spaces that won't require any heavy fixtures.