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Beadboard Ceiling DIY – Part I

When we first realized we were going to have to redo the ceiling in the living room of the Avocado House, Anna suggested doing a beadboard ceiling. I was very skeptical at first, I admit. We went back and forth on a variety of different ideas, but finally the beadboard seemed to be the best solution. We were inspired by this blog post from Rehab Diaries.

Let me mention here that my dad was convinced we would not be successful with this plan, and to him let me say: Told ya so!

It’s not too expensive, theoretically it would be relatively easy to install, and it looks nice. Last weekend, we pulled the trigger and bought eight 4′ x 8′ sheets of beadboard paneling for the living room ceiling. This past weekend, it was go time. Now we’re about halfway through installing the beadboard. Next we will install a grid to cover the seams and give it a more finished look. Here is how we’re going about it:

First, we prepared the ceiling by removing the old acoustical tiles and pulling out any stray nails.

Then, we measured the ceiling area and purchased enough beadboard panels to cover it all, and then some. We wanted to make sure we had extra in case we messed up cutting one. We first looked at panels at Home Depot, but finally decided on some from Ganahl Lumber because they seemed to be of higher quality and less flexible. Of course, we had to pay a little more for the better quality.

beadboard sheets in kitchen
All our little beadboard panels waiting for their time to shine.

Next, we prepared a game plan for how we would put the panels up. Of course our ceiling is a strange size (old, old house…) so it wasn’t  simple. In the end, we decided to orient the panels “hot dog style” flush with the walls, and then cut out pieces to run along the center of the room. This plan will allow us to make most of our cuts along the grain of the beadboard paneling, which will result in better looking seams.

Then it was time to get the stuff onto the ceiling. My coworker very kindly lent us his nail gun and demonstrated how to use it and not shoot our eyes out. Bless you, John. We also rented a drywall lift from Home Depot, which was a godsend. With the lift oriented flat like a table, we were able to position the sheets and then lift them directly into place, leaving the lift in place so they wouldn’t move while we nailed then into place.

Anna did most of the nail gun operation, while I moved things into place, made sure the pressure was right for the gun, handed her other tools, and marked where the studs were. We used nails in rows along all the studs, and also put in four drywall screws per sheet just to make sure they were really secure. It was so satisfying to remove the drywall lift and have the paneling not move at all.

beadboard ceiling diy whole room shot
A look at the whole room, so far.

Learning to position the panels and use the nail gun effectively was definitely a learning curve. It took us a couple hours to get the first panel up, but the fourth went up in only about 20 minutes.

Next weekend we’ll be cutting out pieces for the center and the end of the room and nailing them into place. Overall, I think the beadboard ceiling idea is a great solution – it’s simple, not too difficult, and it’s already obvious that it’s going to look really nice.

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beadboard ceiling diy detail close up
Closeup of seam.

beadboard ceiling diy


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