What Do You Say to a Naked Ceiling? Remodel.

By Gale Steves | Updated Jan 3, 2014 7:35 PM

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Wood Ceiling Installation

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It started with a casual stare. Then I gave my kitchen ceiling a withering glance and declared it dreadful! The kitchen actually changes elevation over the cooktop from a flat to a peaked ceiling so the transition that should have been an eye-catcher, was actually an eye-sore. I knew a ceiling remodel was in order.

A fresh coat of paint would certainly be an easy solution to conceal the nasty, discolored wallboard. But, I wanted the ceiling to be more important. Perhaps even a different material… like the wood plank ceilings that I remember seeing in European homes. And that’s exactly what I decided to do.

Related: From Finland with Love: Notes on Installing a Wood Ceiling

I live in the land of pecky cypress (Georgia) and wanted to adorn the ceiling with a local wood that looked like it had always been part of the house. Finding rough sawn cypress was not a problem, though it was disappointing to discover that much of the knotty character would be lost when planed into tongue-and-groove planks.

Step #1—Talking the Talk
I had to learn the lingo of wood from a nearby lumber yard. What I really wanted was old-growth cypress (more possibility of knots). I also needed to specifiy that the “boards be dressed on three sides and rough on the face” to achieve the look I wanted.

Step #2—Background Check
To start, I had furring strips installed and then had the ceiling painted black; a designer trick I learned to make the knot holes less apparent while creating a sense of depth.

Wood Ceiling Installation - Firring

Photo: GSteves

Step #3—Board Walk
When the cypress boards arrived, I sorted them so that the knot holes were evenly distributed. My contractor did a masterful job of fitting and nailing them with the same attention to detail. He also covered the main support beam that now makes the wooden ceiling seem to float overhead.

Wood Ceiling Installation - Boards

Photo: GSteves

The end result is a unique ceiling that will get the attention it deserves. Now, if I can just prevent cobwebs in those crevices!

Wood Ceiling Installation - Complete

Photo: GSteves

As an alternative, if you want a more refined or less rustic look in wood, Armstrong makes a Woodhaven ceiling plank system that can be installed easily. The pre-finished planks—available in pine, cherry and apple—are virtually maintenance-free and sag-proof.