A reclaimed wood ceiling tutorial!
Oh, what a feeling! We’ve got barn wood on our ceiling. And so can you! In this DIY tutorial, we’ll show you how to install your own wood ceiling to create a gorgeous, rustic, farmhouse-style room!
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy located here.* Disclaimer: Construction projects have inherent risks, ranging from simply injured pride all the way up to doom and gloom death. Don’t undertake a project such as this unless you are very confident in your DIY abilities. Always better to use the checkbook tool to pay a professional rather than end up with a bad accident or injury.
Hey, I’m Dave. Apparently, there have been some questions about how we installed the reclaimed wood ceiling in our guest bedroom using barnwood. So my wife asked me to write the “how to” instructions for you to tackle this DIY project, too.
Oh, and before moving on, if you’re the type who loves decorating your home BIG time, but on a small-time budget? Then you’ll want to grab a free copy of “Builder-Grade To Beautiful: 10 Totally Transformative Home Decorating Solutions, All Under $100!” Click here or on the image below. Your copy will be sent right away!
Back to my first DIY tutorial (and possibly my last depending on how this goes)…
Here are the supplies you’ll need to tackle your own reclaimed wood ceiling at home.
How to install your wooden ceiling treatment:
Step 1: Measure the square footage of your ceiling.
Measure the square footage of the ceiling (=ceiling length x width) so you know how much material you need…seems obvious, I know. But it’s not always easy to find the right amount of salvaged wood to fit the space you’re working with, so have that information before you start to search. Here’s how our ceiling started:
Step 2: Find your wood
Find your wood! “How?” you ask. It depends. If you live in a rural area and have some neighbors with old barns, you may have to look no further! If not, start with Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, yard sales and Google.
Search the following terms coupled with some local, geographic identifier like the name of your city/town… “salvaged wood”, “barn wood” and/or “reclaimed wood”. This should put you well on the way in your hunt. We found a local picker who specializes in reclaimed wood.
Step 3: Decide where you will install each board (if they are not uniform).
Once you have the material on site you should plan out which pieces will go together and how you will lay out the ceiling…keep in mind that the boards need to be installed perpendicular to the ceiling joists.
When you are using old materials like barn board there will be little consistency in the material itself, meaning the thickness and the widths of the boards will be different…
that is why I say you need to plan it out…if you just start installing the material without a plan you will probably end up needing to buy more barn board as you will have a bunch of mismatched pieces at the end…not good.
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Step 4: Spray for insects (if desired) or wood is not kiln-dried
This is an elective step, but pretty important, in our opinion, if your wood has not been kiln-dried (ours was not). This wood has likely been sitting out, exposed to nature, including possibly wood infesting creatures, for some amount of time.
We sprayed our wood prior to installation with Bora-Care, which will kill any termites that may exist in the wood. They also have a product that will eliminate mold along with termites.
There are likely other similar products out there as well. It’s kind of an expensive step, but compared to the cost of pest control after the fact, well worth it!
Step 5: Paint the joists
Paint the bottom of the joists black (any kind of paint will do…we used basic craft acrylic paint since that is what we had on hand). Barnboard by nature won’t fit together tightly so there will be gaps.
If you don’t paint the bottom of the joists black you will see these gaps and the end result won’t look great. **Note, the picture below was from another installation we recently did (stay tuned for the blog reveal).
In this shot, it was a drywall ceiling we were covering with the barn board, so we painted the drywall area in between each board black. If you are covering joists, you can paint everything at the beginning, or do it little by little as you install, which is what we did (this way also saves paint).**
Step 6: Barn Wood Plank Installation
Installation of the boards is a two-person job, so if you have a buddy that owes you one, now would be the time to collect. When I was installing the boards I used 2.5” black drywall screws to secure the boards to the joists.
If you need more than one board to complete a run, I would recommend you cut an angle on the ends of the boards where they butt together.
I cut a 30-degree angle, but it could be anything just as long at it is an angle.
Step 7: Molding
After you’ve completed installing your wood on the ceiling, you’ll want to install crown molding around the perimeter of your wood treatment. Crown is kind of a necessary evil with this project.
By using crown, you don’t have to worry about getting the boards tight at the ends where they touch the walls. Without the crown, it will be very difficult to get the cuts just right and, like caulk, crown molding can cover a multitude of sins!
Still have questions? Here are some answers!
There are really few limitations when it comes to the type of wood you can use for this project. Mostly, consider your personal taste, and beyond that, ease or difficulty of installation. Some types of wood will be harder to work with than others.
For example, a reclaimed wood is not the easiest for installation purposes because the planks will not be uniform size. There will also be knots, holes, warping, etc. that will make the install more challenging.
On the flip side, a manufactured plank, or flooring material will be much simpler because of the uniformity of the product, as well as the lighter weight.
Make sure that your ceiling is structurally ready to install a wood ceiling as doing so will add likely a significant amount of weight above your head. Safety first!
There are even faux wood options made of materials such as a dense foam material…these can be great options because of a typically lower price, and significantly lower weight!
One example of a faux wood option can be seen in our faux wood beam installation article.
It depends, but generally, YES they can.
When you add something, be it paint, or another darker material like wood to the ceiling, it visually pulls the room in, creating a cozier feel.
Exceptions? Adding a smaller ceiling treatment that doesn’t encompass all of the ceiling square footage can alternately draw the eye upward and make the space look larger! Options such as a couple well-placed faux wood or wood beams, ceiling rings or medallions to add a bit of visual interest without completely covering the ceiling are examples of this.
Wood ceilings can not only be good, they can be great! Adding wood to a ceiling is a great way to add architectural and visual interest to a space.
That said, the “good” versus “bad” answer can also be a matter of taste. It’s mostly about what personally appeals to you. If you tend to pin images on Pinterest of spaces with wood ceilings, then it’s a look you are drawn to. If not? Then perhaps it isn’t your best choice, and that’s A-OK too!
Adding wood to a ceiling is certainly a more costly alternative to something like paint. There are material costs, supply costs (i.e. nails) and if you aren’t planning to DIY, there will be labor costs.
The actual cost will depend on the type of wood you select. If you go with a laminate flooring, that will be much more cost-effective than a solid hardwood or perhaps a reclaimed wood option.
Bottom line? There’s a lot of variability in the overall cost based upon the materials you choose to use.
Great question! There are so many amazing ceiling design options. We wrote a whole article about interesting ceiling design ideas. To name a few, consider beams (either real or faux), coffered ceiling, painted, wallpaper, and ceiling rings! Adding something of visual interest to your ceiling can really take a space from kind of boring and bland to absolutely breathtaking!
And that concludes our wood ceiling tutorial! I hope this was helpful. And best of luck if you decide to add reclaimed wood or another type/style to your own ceiling! It’s a look I think you’ll love. I know we do!
Want to see another GORGEOUS bedroom with a plank wood ceiling? Check out this post from my friend, Redhead Can Decorate!
Pin this post for later! And if you decide to insall a wood ceiling, leave a comment (or better yet, a photo) on the pin! That helps others know whether they want to try this project, too!
Pssst…before you go, I sure would love to hang out with you again really soon! Sign up now and get a FREE copy of “Builder-Grade To Beautiful: 10 Totally Transformative Home Decorating Solutions, All Under $100!” Click here or on the image below. Your copy will be sent right away!