How To Paint A Beadboard Ceiling

Lead Image
  • 2 - 8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20 - 50
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
120 grit sandpaper
Sash brush
Acrylic latex paint

A beadboard ceiling can cover popcorn ceilings without the hassle of scraping the stuff off. It will also give your home old world charm, especially in a space like a kitchen or a laundry room. It can be stained or painted, and anyone can install it.

If you’d like to paint your beadboard ceiling, you can do it easily before installing, or even after it’s already put up. Painting beadboard means that you can purchase low-grade wood, install it quickly and cover it up with paint later. It will still have an appealing look.


Measure the entire surface of the ceiling to determine how many boards you will need. Most likely, the boards are 3.5-inches wide, 8-feet long and .31-inches thick.


Sand your beadboard before you put your finish on it. Use 120-grit sandpaper. You’ll remove any splinters and ready it for painting by making it smooth. To get into the grooves, fold the sandpaper. When you are done, use a vacuum to clean any sanding dust.


Prime the beadboard. Use a sash brush because the bristles are angled. If you are working with milled strips of wood, use an oil-based primer thinned just a little with mineral spirits and be sure to prime all sides, backs, faces and edges of the beadboard to protect it. For other wood materials, use an oil-based primer as well. Allow it to dry for 12 to 36 hours before priming it a second time. Give it at least 48 hours, but no more than 2 weeks to dry before moving on.


Use good acrylic latex paint in the color you have chosen at your local paint store, paint the boards. If you are using milled strips of wood, be sure to paint the tongues. That way, if they shrink in winter, no off-color will show through on your beadboard ceiling.


Don’t forget to sand with your 120-grit between coats. Paint, primer (especially latex) and polyurethane raise the grain of the wood. Sanding between coats will smooth it down and create both a smooth surface and a better finish.

Brush Strokes on Hardwood Beadboard

Brush along joints, but not across them. Any bridges of paint on the joints will crack as the wood shifts.

Second Coat

If your beadboard is dark material, a second coat will very likely be necessary. If you skip the second coat, you might find you don’t end up with the color you were hoping for.

Install Beadboard

Beadboard sheets have a smooth side that is attached to the ceiling and a beaded side that is visible when installed. The boards are installed vertically to the ceiling joists with 4D finishing nails. After the boards are installed and the crown molding is in place, nail holes are patched up for a nice finish.