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DIY: Tongue and Groove wood ceiling

Updated on May 16, 2017
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Samantha is a mom of 4 who loves crafting, DIY home improvements, and interior design.

To scrape or to cover...

If you live in an older house then you probably have those ugly patterns on your ceilings and you've probably stared up at them countless times wishing they would go away. I know your pain and I'm here to tell you that there is a solution. I had purchased our 1984 home when I was 21 years old as our 1st home. Unfortunately, our first home only had 1 very small bathroom. Within the first 3 months of living there we decided to enlarge the bathroom by removing the hall closet giving us room for a larger vanity. Once we enlarged the bathroom that left us with a closet-sized patch to our ceiling. We tried to match the star pattern but were completely unsuccessful and that ugly patch of drywall stayed just like that for years while I tried to decide how to fix it until we outgrew our house and needed to sell it. I obviously couldn't sell a house with an unfinished bathroom ceiling so I had to do something. I read a few blogs on how to scrape a popcorn ceiling and figured I would do that and we would just have a smooth bathroom ceiling. I began to scrape when I realized that this star patterned mess was not popcorn ceiling...this is sheetrock mud stamped in a pattern which is apparently not the same as a popcorn ceiling. It did not want to come off at all! I was able to get some of the higher peaks knocked down but there was no way it was ever going to be smooth. That's the moment I realized I needed another plan.

The scraping attempt and the mess it left behind

If at first you don't succeed cover it up!

Since my initial plan of scraping the ugly pattern failed miserably I needed a plan "B". After watching a ton of HGTV specials and scrolling through thousands of ideas on Pinterest I came across an antique farmhouse with a wooden ceiling and it was as if a light bulb had gone off. Tongue and groove wood would be a fantastic way to cover up the mess we had created. I went to Home Depot to search for ideas and possible product to be used and I came across pine tongue and groove wood. This is exactly what I needed and cost efficient. I found some tongue and groove planks that were 6inches wide and 96" long and cost $48 for a 6 pack of those. Luckily our bathroom was relatively small and the length was about an inch longer than our bathroom. We only needed about 4 packs of these meaning we spent $200 on wood for our ceiling (not including the crown molding)!

Tools you will Need:

  1. Tongue and Groove planks
  2. Finish nail gun
  3. Finishing nails
  4. Caulk
  5. Sand Paper
  6. Primer
  7. Paint
  8. Crown Molding


The kids helping pick out wood!

Step 1

Place your first plank right up against the wall (groove towards the wall) and use your nail gun to nail it in place. I put a nail every 2 feet or so. Interlock the next piece by locking the tongue into the groove and nail it into place. Do this until your ceiling is complete.

Step 2

Once your wood ceiling is installed you can install your crown molding. There are several ways to install crown molding but we did ours at a 45 degree angle and nailed it into the ceiling and wall.

Step 3

Now that your ceiling is up and your crown molding is installed you need to use your caulk to fill in all the seams and nail holes. Using the caulk gun squeeze the handle and run the tip of the tube along your seam. Run your finger along the caulk line and smooth it out. Wipe the excess off your finger occasionally. Do the same for your nail holes.

Tip: Use a damp rag to smooth the caulk line for a nice finish!

Ready to be sanded and painted

Step 4

Give a rough sand to your ceiling to make sure you've got a splinter free surface to paint. Pay special attention to the areas that you caulked to make sure those blend in smoothly. You want to make sure that once you paint you can't tell where the nail holes are.

Step 5

Prime the ceiling first to make sure there's a moisture barrier since this is a bathroom and steam is not good for wood. Then you can paint your color of choice.

Final product

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