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Some things about a planked ceiling…


I did the plank ceiling A.) because we had some sloppy drywall and a strange textured ceiling, B.) because I was hired to write a tutorial on how to install a planked ceiling and C.) because I love the look.  I know a lot of you have questions about the installation, but you’ll have to wait for the tutorial to get most of those answered.  I will definitely link to it when it’s live.  I did want to share some things now, though, that I won’t be sharing in the tutorial.  These are some things that are good to know when deciding if a planked ceiling is right for you.



1.) This is the kind of project that looks bad when only the first few rows are done.  All of the imperfections are really obvious.  By imperfections, I mean gaps, boards that are warped, knots in the wood that show through the paint, tongues that aren’t fitting perfectly in the grooves, etc.  I am not a perfectionist and I had the vision, so this didn’t bother me.  My husband is a perfectionist and he was sick of these planks within the first five minutes.  He loosened up towards the end of the installation declaring, “There’s a gap here and I really don’t mind.  Let’s nail it in and keep going.”  It may have been the hunger and sore shoulders talking, but he started to get the vision and was embracing it.  This treatment can look sloppy closeup, but looks great when you step back and see the full room.  If anyone involved in this project is a super-high-strung-OCD-perfectionist, it’s going to be rough.  Just know that going into it.


(We filled in and painted those holes, by the way.)


2.) Lining tongues into grooves on a 5/16″ thick piece of wood is a challenge.  The materials we used were not super high quality.  It’s nice to work with thin boards, so they are lightweight for an overhead installation, but the fact that they are thin and light means they are pliable and there’s a small margin of error when trying to fit the boards together.  If there is a small drip of paint or the groove got smushed in the package, it’s not going to fit properly.  We used the Pine Ridge Solid Wood Planking with a V-Groove from Home Depot.  It’s sold in the trim/paneling section.  This product was inexpensive and it wasn’t terrible, but it’s just not the easiest to work with.  I’ll look for a different product if we do this again.


3.) Getting a nice, even line around the edge of the room can be difficult.  It is rare that walls are perfectly square, plum and level in a house, so variances in the room width, not enough to see by the eye, but enough to see when you’re planking a ceiling, are to be expected.  This can leave you with a crooked line on one or both sides of the room.  We’re installing crown molding to hide this, which we were planning to do anyway, and I would suggest doing the same.  It gives the room a nice, finished look anyway.



4.) Make sure planking is right for your room.  Once you put a billion nails in your ceiling, you’re going to want to leave it there for a long time.  Make sure it really works for your room and you love it.  This treatment is perfect for a farmhouse, shabby chic, cottagey sort of look, but isn’t going to make as much sense in a super-traditional or modern space.  Just make sure it works.


5.) This is not a one-woman/man project.  I thought this was something I could handle myself or with minimal help here and there, but it is definitely a two person job.  Three is even better.  Four if you have small kids.  There is a lot of holding one end of a floppy board with cramping shoulders while your cohort tries to fit a tongue into a groove as a nail gun is hanging precariously over your new wood floors from your sweatpants that may fall down in front of your dad due to the weight of the nail gun.  There’s a lot of up and down stepladders and picking paint drips out of tongues so everything has the best chance to fit together.  You need help…very willing and wonderful help to get this project done.

I hope I haven’t scared you away, but I know I like to go into projects with my eyes open to the potential challenges.  Yes, I would plank a ceiling again.  It’s a great bang for the buck and is an easy way to hide popcorn ceilings or drywall that was installed by someone who wasn’t very detail-oriented.  These things I am sharing are minor (and very common) bumps in a DIY project.

Does anyone have any projects planned for the weekend?  I think we might start ripping out the counter tops.  Mwah-ha-ha!   

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  1. lizanne says:

    Could you please post a link, on this page, to the tutorial you mentioned you were creating? Thank you!

  2. Constance says:

    I second that!

  3. We are getting ready to plank our kitchen ceiling this Tuesday, I think I’ll paint AFTER I hang them up. Thanks for the warning! 😀

  4. I am glad you told the truth about this project. My husband and i are about half way through and he had the exact reaction as your husband did. After the first five or six boards were up he was all ready to tear the whole thing down because we had a terrible time trying to get the tongue into the groove. We are also using the cheapy boards from Home Depot. My husband finally decided to cut the back half of the groove off each board and the installation went twice as fast and since this is not a fast job that is a good thing. We have since agreed that we are doing a great job and it will at some point in the not too distant future look fabulous. We have also decided that this is the only ceiling we are planking.

  5. Andrew says:

    you painted the boards before installing? would you suggest doing this?

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