How to Install a Tongue and Groove Ceiling Part 1

tongue and groove ceiling
  • 10-30 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 500-1,500
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Electronic stud finder
Chalk line marker
2 stepladders, 5 feet high
Tongue and groove ceiling planks
10-inch miter saw to trim ceiling planks
Jigsaw to cut holes for ceiling fixtures
1-inch by 2-inch strips for furring
Pneumatic nail gun
Finishing nailer
1-inch wood top nails
Ball peen hammer
Wood stain
Clear water-based finish
Wide and narrow paint brushes

Adding a tongue and groove ceiling to your great room, living room, or dining room not only adds beautiful texture and interest, but also banishes the bland vanilla ceiling we are all familiar with. Follow the first part of the directions to install a tongue and groove ceiling in your home. (To move ahead to Part 2, click here.)

Step 1 - Measure the Ceiling Area to Purchase Supply Quantities Needed

Measure the ceiling's width and length to ensure you get the proper size board for the tongue and groove ceiling. Divide the width of the ceiling by the surface width of each board, not including the protruding tongue, so that you can estimate the width in planks of your ceiling. You will lay the first and last ceiling planks .25-inches from the walls. Start at an exterior wall as they tend to be the straightest walls of a room.

Step 2 - Purchase and Stain All of the Ceiling Planks You Intend to Use

Apply stain and clear water-based finish to the ceiling planks before you put them up in order to save yourself a very messy clean-up job later. Add about 10% to the measurement of the tongue and groove planking to allow for cuts and fitting of light fixtures and ceiling fans. Allow the stained and sealed planks to dry for 12 hours before beginning the installation.

Step 3 - Remove Any Crown Molding or Trim Around the Ceiling Perimeter

Carefully remove the crown molding or trim from the perimeter of the ceiling. You can clean, repaint and reuse it when you have finished installing the tongue and groove planks.

Step 4 - Remove Light Fixtures, Ceiling Fans and Ceiling Art

Carefully disconnect and remove light fixtures, ceiling fans and any ceiling art you may have such as mobiles. If you have any plant hangers suspended from ceiling joists, take these out as well. Mark circles around the locations.

Step 5 - Locate the Ceiling Joists

Use a stud finder to help you locate the ceiling joists. You will attach the furring strips to the joists, 16-inches apart at the center. They will help the ceiling planks expand and contract.

Step 6 - Lay the First Perimeter Line of the Furring Strips

Measure and cut the first perimeter line of the furring strips. Attach the perimeter line to the ceiling. It extends parallel to the exterior wall at a right angle to the ceiling joists. Use a pneumatic nail gun to fasten the perimeter furring strip to the joists.

Step 7 - Attach the Furring Strips to the Ceiling Joists

Measure and cut all of the furring strips you will need. They should run the full length of the ceiling, parallel to and on top of the ceiling joists. They will be attached to the joists and perimeter board with a nail gun.

Continue to Part 2 to begin attaching the tongue and groove ceiling planks.

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