Timber has been an essential building material for thousands of years. But many people don't use wood for their ceilings because it doesn't have a modern look. That reluctance presents an opportunity for you to create a unique and interesting ceiling using wood planks.
These planks offer more than a traditional aesthetic that separates your home from others. Timber ceilings also offer a good degree of insulation, as wood stores heat (and cold) directly within its cellular structure. If you live in a cold location, a wood ceiling helps to trap heat in your home, thus reducing your energy bill.
Wood is also a low-maintenance material once it’s finished and installed. Plus, it offers a high degree of soundproofing, which means the people above you aren’t disturbed by whatever noise you make in the room.
With the benefits of wood ceilings established, we move onto a big question:
How do I install wood ceiling planks?
This article guides you through every step of the process, from finding the perfect wood for your project to installing it into your ceiling.
How to Find the Perfect Wood for Your Project
Before you can start bolting wood to your ceiling, you need to source it. You have several options here, including finding cheap sources of reclaimed wood or using alternatives to traditional timber that make the installation easier.
Get Reclaimed Wood From a Dealer
The 2020s have been a tumultuous time for lumber prices. For example, the beginning of 2022 saw prices triple, leading to many holding off on their home renovation projects. Though those sharp price spikes mellowed out later in the year, this volatility may lead you to seek other options.
Reclaimed wood is one of those options.
This is salvaged wood that was used for another purpose and has been recycled. Some prefer reclaimed wood over new wood because it has more character and age, allowing them to create more exciting designs
While it’s possible to source reclaimed wood from neighbors, local businesses, and construction sites, working with a dealer may be a more efficient option. Some lumber dealers specialize in reclaiming wood from construction sites, which they then sell for a profit to people who can use the wood.
Most reclaimed wood dealers work locally, so they’re unlikely to ship their products long distances. However, some dealers work on a national scale, though they often charge more than local dealers. No matter who you work with, make sure the dealer backs up their products with a guarantee and has a good reputation for quality.
Hire a Contractor
There are two ways that hiring a contractor can help you find wood ceiling planks.
Of course, you can hire a contractor to carry out the entire installation for you. While this drastically cuts down on the amount of work you need to do, it’s a costly choice. Still, a contractor has connections they can use to make sure you get a good product.
Alternatively, you can hire or quiz a contractor about where they source their wood. Some may be willing to help you buy the wood you need for your project from their suppliers, but they may charge you a small fee for doing this.
Peel and Stick Makes DIY Easier
If you aren’t familiar with Peel-and-stick real wood planks, now is a great time to learn about them because they have several advantages. They cost less than traditional timber and are far easier to install. With their adhesive backing, you can place them on almost any flat interior surface to create an attractive wooden plank aesthetic. Their low cost also leaves you with some room for experimentation, meaning you can play around with patterns until you find something that works.
They also come with a slim and uniform profile, which makes creating organized patterns simpler. Plus, it’s easier to cut out gaps in peel-and-stick planks for electrical outlets and light switches than it is to cut through regular wood.
Installing a traditional wood ceiling can be costly, requiring a lot of installation knowledge and the ability to use a lot of different tools. Peel-and-stick wood planks have changed this, allowing for DIY installation that required only basic tools… in the end making the project much cheaper, and just as beautiful.
Source Wood Locally
Let’s assume the peel-and-stick option isn’t right for you, and you also don’t want to pay the prices that dealers and contractors charge. If this sounds like you, there are several ways you can source reclaimed wood locally at low or no cost:
- Repurpose wood you already own for your project. Old sheds and decking are both great sources of reclaimed planks you can use for your ceiling. The same goes for any old wood your neighbors have. If a neighbor is renovating, offer to take their old wood off their hands so you get some planks and they avoid disposal fees.
- Check the classified ads in newspapers, as well as on platforms like Craigslist. You may find local people who have old wood they want to get rid of.
- If you live in a rural area, consider visiting local farms. You may find that a farmer has an old barn they want to tear down or a stockpile of wooden pallets they can’t use.
- Traditional retailers, especially grocery stores, often receive their produce on large wooden pallets. Ask around at local stores to learn whether they have any old pallets they’d be happy to give or sell to you.
- Visit local demolition sites and ask the site foreman if they’ll sell you their reclaimed lumber. Note that many construction companies recycle wood themselves. Your offer allows them to sell directly, which may land you a better price than you’d get from a dealer.
Be Sure to Order Samples
You’ll need to order wood planks in bulk if you intend to cover your entire ceiling. The last thing you want is to order a lot of wood only to find that it doesn’t suit your needs. By ordering samples, you can get a feel for the planks you’re thinking about buying before you commit a large amount of money to them.
Many reclaimed wood dealers offer samples. The same goes for peel-and-stick manufacturers. Request a sample and use it to help you figure out which pattern you’d like and whether the wood looks right in the room you’re working on.
The Tools You’ll Need
The specific tools you need to install wood planks on your ceiling vary depending on the type of planks you purchase. For example, you won’t need a hammer or nails when installing peel-and-stick planks. But you may need them, along with several other tools, when repurposing reclaimed wood for your ceiling.
The following are tools you should always have on hand, even if you don’t end up using them:
- Stud Finder
- Measuring Tape
- Construction Panel Adhesive
- Finishing Nails
- Hammer or Nail Gun
- Circular Saw
- Miter Saw
- Wood Putty
- Soft Rag
- Sanding Paper
- Wood Trim Molding
Pick a Pattern You Love
Before you start fitting your planks on your ceiling, you need to choose an appropriate pattern. There are several to consider, each of which gives your ceiling an interesting aesthetic.
You achieve a staggered pattern when you install your planks, so the edges aren’t perfectly lined up. For example, after installing a row of planks, your next row may be a few inches to the right or left. The seams make a staggered pattern, giving the ceiling a style that is both casual and classy.
Offset staggered patterns are similar to staggered patterns, only slightly more organized. In this case, you align every other row. With the first row installed, you move all of the planks in the second row a few inches across so their edges align with the centers of the planks in the first row. For the third row, you align the planks with the first row. The fourth row aligns with the second, and so on.
Inspired by the skeleton of the herring fish, the Herringbone pattern involves creating short rows of slanted, parallel planks. You position these rows so they create a series of tight chevrons that run the length of the ceiling.
With a diagonal pattern, you install your planks from the corners of your ceiling, rather than the straight edges. This pattern tends to draw attention to the room’s corners, but it also creates an unconventional and interesting look.
With a random pattern, you throw caution to the wind and place your planks wherever you think they fit best. This pattern is a good choice if you’re using reclaimed wood planks from different sources.
DIY Ceiling Plank Installation
Get your tools ready, because you’re finally ready to install your wooden ceiling planks. This process assumes you’re using tongue-and-groove planks allowing for easy alignment.
Step 1: Use your sandpaper to smooth out any rough portions of your planks. You may also choose to paint your planks at this stage, assuming you don’t want a natural wood look. Give your planks about a day to dry fully before you install them.
Step 2: Turn off the electricity in your room and remove any overhead light or ceiling fan fixtures using your screwdriver. Fortunately, you won’t usually need to remove the entire fixture. Instead, take down the canopy that covers the wires.
Step 3: Use your stud finder to find your ceiling joists. Make marks on each joist with your chalk, as you’ll use them to help you align your planks. In most cases, you’ll install your planks perpendicular to the ceiling joists.
Step 4: Use your measuring tape and chalk to measure and mark lines at 1/4-inch gaps from the wall to the ceiling. Do this for each side of your ceiling. These lines serve as the starting point for installing your planks. You need the 1/4-inch gap because wood contracts and expands based on your room’s humidity levels. The gap gives your planks space to expand due to humidity and temperature.
Step 5: Grab one of your wood planks and create a serpentine bead of construction panel adhesive on the back. Set the plank along one of your expansion gap lines, with the groove facing the wall. Pull your plank a short distance away from the ceiling before setting it back in place, as this allows the adhesive to spread. You should find that the adhesive holds the plank in place until you’re ready to apply your nails.
Step 6: Use finishing nails to secure the plank to the ceiling. nail into the ceiling joists, with two nails going into each joist on either side of the plank.
Step 7: Take your next plank and apply ceiling adhesive to the back end in a serpentine pattern. Slide the plank into place, with its groove fitting into the tongue of the previously-fitted plank. Follow the processes in Steps 5 and 6 to secure the plank.
Step 8: Repeat Steps 5, 6, and 7 until you reach the end of the row. Measure the length required to complete the row and use your circular saw to cut a plank down to size. Secure that plank with adhesive and nails before moving on to the next row.
Step 9: Assuming you’re applying a staggered pattern, use the remaining part of the plank you cut to finish the first row when starting your second row. Then, repeat Steps 5, 6, 7, and 8 until you complete the second row. Repeat these steps consistently for each row until you’ve covered the ceiling in wood planks. You’ll likely need to cut a gap into one of your planks to account for your light fixture at some point during this process.
Step 10: Measure the perimeters of your room and cut wood trim molding to the appropriate lengths at a 45-degree angle using your miter saw. Use finishing nails to attach the trim to your walls.
Step 11: Fill all of the nail holes with wood putty to hide the presence of the nails. Clean off any excess using your sanding paper and a soft rag.
Step 12: Reconnect your ceiling light or fan fixture and turn the room’s electricity back on.
Get Samples and Ceiling Planks at Stikwood
Now that you know how to install wood ceiling planks, you’re likely raring to get going. There are plenty of sources you can explore to get reclaimed or brand-new planks. However, the step-by-step process detailed in this article is labor-intensive. If you’re looking for a new DIY project, you may relish the thought of getting your hands dirty with this process.
But what if you’re looking for something simpler?
That’s where Stikwood comes in.
Our range of peel-and-stick wood planks is far easier to install than traditional wood planks. They’re also more cost-effective and easier to cut into shape, giving you more flexibility when choosing your pattern. Our peel-and-stick planks adhere directly to any flat and clean surface in your home without needing nails or sanding. Just strip the backing off the plank and fix it into place.
Stikwood planks are available in a range of 30 unique finishes, each of which is designed to help you create a space you love with as little effort as possible. We also supply wall art, trims, and the tools you’ll need to install wood ceiling planks.
Are you ready to get started?
Order some samples from Stikwood today to get a feel for each of our finishes. And when you’re ready to order, you’ll find plenty of peel-and-stick wood planks available in our online store.