Beadboard Ceiling Install
Beadboard Ceiling Install
Installing beadboard ceilings in your cabin or home is an easy way to add vintage-feel and character. When we remodeled our cabin, we did just that.
Beadboard or beaded ceilings are created using wood tongue and groove boards assembled to build a paneled finish. Beadboard became popular in the 1800 and 1900’s when it was used as a durable, inexpensive, surface for ceilings and walls (known as “wainscot” when combined with trim elements).
Today, wainscot and beadboard paneling remains popular as a functional, low-cost, traditional-feeling finish and perfect for cottages and cabins.
Read on to learn more about beadboard and how to install beadboard yourself.
Beadboard Comes In Many Forms
Although authentic beadboard is built using individual tongue and groove boards, today beadboard surfaces can be created using a few different products.
In addition to traditional beadboard, built from single tongue and groove boards, larger manufactured, beadboard-patterned panels are used to create a beadboard-appearing finishes.
While I strongly prefer using individual tongue and groove beaded boards to create beadboard finishes, manufactured panels do offer speed and cost savings. The trade off is an off-the-shelf, paneling look that lacks the character, depth and feel of true beadboard created from individual boards.
That said, there may be installations that benefit from thinner, lighter beadboard panels made from a variety of materials including solid wood, hardboard, MDF, and polymers.
These panelized products, especially those that are resistant to moisture, may have improved performance in certain environments or under certain building constraints.
Choosing Between Tongue and Groove Beaded Boards vs. Beadboard Patterned Panels
|T&G Beaded Boards||Beadboard Patterned Paneling|
|Appearance||vintage, authentic, varied||contemporary, manufactured, uniform|
|Made Out Of||solid wood – pine, oak, others||fiberboard, MDF, polymers|
|Product Size||individual boards – 3″, 4″,6″ & 8″ widths common||larger planks and panels|
|Thickness||3/8″ – 1″ common||1/8″ – 1/4″ common|
|Cost per sf||$1.5 – $5+ depending on species and grade||$0.5 – $4|
Beaded tongue and groove boards are available in a variety of dimensions, and are made from an assortment of wood species (pine is common), engineered wood and polymers. For my project, I used 3/4″ x 4″ x 12′ pine beaded boards purchased from my local lumber yard.
Considerations When Using Tongue and Groove Beaded Boards for Beadboard
Compared to using manufactured beaded panels, solid wood boards require a few considerations prior to installation. Here are a few:
- Solid wood beaded boards, like any solid wood product, should be moisture stable and acclimated to the environment you plan to install it in.
Purchase kiln dried products and allow them to acclimate to you home prior to install. Consider the timing of installation if your climate and home have significant seasonal humidity variations.
Boards installed during drier months will tend to expand during more humid ones and vice-versa. Plan accordingly, but allowing adequate expansion gaps for changes in humidity and anticipate board contraction during dryer times.
Primers and preliminary coats of clear finishes can and should be applied prior to installation when possible.
Pre-applied finishes help protect and stabilize boards. For much of my board and batten ceiling install, I first applied several coats of primer to all sides of the boards prior to installing.
Then, after installing the boards, I only needed to apply a finish coat to ceiling. Pre-finishing tongue and groove boards are also beneficial in preventing the boards from showing unfinished tongue and groove surfaces if boards expand and contract with seasonal changes in humidity.
Solid wood boards will expand and contract more than manufactured products with changes in humidity.
Consider the environment when planning your beadboard finishes. In bathrooms and other high humidity environments, solid boards may not be the best choice.
If you do plan to install solid wood boards in these areas, the boards should be well sealed on all six sides to help protect them from moisture. Choosing a wood species that performs well in humid conditions may also be helpful (teak, cedar, others).
In high-humidity environments, consider alternative products instead of solid wood. Manufactured exterior grade beadboard planks and paneling that may perform better. You may also consider avoiding wood finishes (like beadboard) in these areas. Although we added beadboard to our kitchen, bedroom and porch ceilings, we skipped it in our bathroom.
Solid wood boards may require more substantial fastening compared to paneling.
Thinner, lighter panels, with greater dimensional stability can often be installed with construction adhesive. Heavier, thicker individual boards are typically nailed, and installed perpendicular to framing studs. While running beaded boards perpendicular to ceiling studs is usually not a problem, it offers challenges for a wainscot style application on walls.
Beaded Ceilings Installed in Kitchen, Bedrooms and Porch
Initially, we wanted to install beadboard ceilings in our bedrooms. Once they were up, we couldn’t get enough, and we added them to our kitchen and porch ceilings as well.
Here are a few images of our mostly finished beadboard ceilings, with some before and after beadboard ceilings:
After Beadboard Ceilings
Before Beadboard Ceilings
Our new beadboard ceilings add character and a vintage feel to our cabin. They were relatively inexpensive and were an easy DIY project for most. Read on to see a step by step how-to guide to installing beadboard ceilings in your cabin, cottage or home.
Beadboard Ceiling Install – Preparation
Preparation and Materials
- Level: Basic to Intermediate
- Time: Hours – Days
- Cost: $2 – $3 / sq ft
Project Big Picture
- Prepare ceiling.
- Prepare boards.
- Install boards.
- Finish boards.
- Install trim.
- Finish trim
Materials – Beadboard Ceiling
|Item||What I used|
|Tongue & Groove Beaded Ceiling Boards|
|Pine Cover Trim|
Tools – Beadboard Ceiling
|Item||What I used|
|Alkyd Trim Paint|
|Shellac (Alcohol) bsaed primer|
|Nylon/Poly Paint Brushes|
|Mini 6.5″ Roller|
|Paint Pail / Tray|
|Paint Tray Liners|
Install Beadboard Ceilings – Step by Step
- Obtain Material(s) and Supplies.
For our cabin beadboard ceilings, we used 3/4″ x 4″ beaded tongue and groove pine boards. We ordered the boards from our local lumber yard.
When ordering beaded ceiling boards, order boards long enough to avoid lengthwise seams. If seams are unavoidable, try and order tongue and groove boards that are “end-matched”. End-matched boards carry the tongue and groove to the sides of the boards, making end seams more stable.
If possible, order boards that are just slightly longer than the needed ceiling span. Tongue and groove beaded boards are typically available in lengths up to 16′.
When calculating the amount of material to order, remember that 4″ beaded tongue and groove boards provide only 3 1/2″ of a finished surface due to the tongue. Order a bit extra to cover for damaged boards and waste. You can always return unused boards.
To fasten the boards, I purchased and used a pneumatic Bostitch 16 gauge finish nailer and 2″ 16 gauge finishing nails. I highly recommend using a pneumatic nailer if installing individual tongue and groove boards.
You will need to blind nail these boards through the tongue. If you hand nail the boards, you will need to use a nail set to countersink each nail. That’s a lot of work without a nailer
A pneumatic nailer allows you to easily set the nail head depth by adjusting the compressor regulator pressure.
- Pre-finish, Pre-prime or Back-prime Boards Prior to Install if Possible.
To improve the performance, appearance and life of your beadboard ceiling project, consider finishing or at least priming the boards prior to installing them.
Sealed boards last longer and are dimensionally more stable.
It is also a lot easy to apply primer or finish to the boards prior to installing them. And, once installed, boards that already have a coat or two of finish applied accept a final finish coat very easily.
In addition, priming or painting the tongues of the boards will improve the appearance of your ceiling in areas where the boards separate with season moisture changes.
- Plan Board Install.
To install tongue and groove boards properly, you will need to determine the direction and location of the ceiling joists.
The beadboard ceiling boards should be installed perpendicular (oriented at a 90-degree angle) to the joists. This orientation allows each board to be nailed to the joists.
Using a stud finder or other method, locate and mark your ceiling joists prior to beginning board installation. Use a caulk line or straight edge to mark the location of all joists on the entire length of the ceiling.
- Measure and Cut Boards.
Once the ceiling joists are marked, measure and cut the tongue and groove beaded boards for install. If possible, the boards should be long enough to span the entire width of the ceiling without seams.
If you will need to seam boards, order end-matched boards that have tongue and groove sides designed for seaming. If you need to seam boards without end-matched ends, try and plan the seam to join over a joist so you can face nail the ends of each board secure.
When making measurements for board lengths, remember to leave a slight gap on both sides of the board ends for possible board expansion. You can leave smaller gaps (1/4″ or so) for smaller widths and more moisture stable environments. Leave larger gaps (3/8″ or so) for longer board lengths and more dynamic moisture environments.
Remember to consider the type of molding you plan to use will need to cover whatever expansion gap you plan to leave.
- Install Boards.
Beginning at the wall on one end of the ceiling, start installing the tongue and groove boards. Remember that you will be installing the boards perpendicular to the ceiling joists, so pick the starting wall accordingly.
Install the first board tongue out with the groove side of the board facing the wall. Leave a slight expansion gap (1/4″ or so) between the groove side of the board and the wall.
Expansion gaps on the tongue and groove (start to finish) sides of the ceiling are less important because of the slight expansion allowed between the tongue and groove joints.
Install the first board. First, center the board left to right, with equal expansion gaps on either side of the board. Square the board with the side walls. Then, nail the board in place.
For the first board, face nail the starting edge of the board (groove side) next to the wall. These nails pass directly through the face of the board perpendicular to the board surface. Then blind nail the tongue, align your nailer (or nail if hand nailing) at a 45-degree angle through the base of the tongue directed back under the board.
Seat the nail head so that it is flush or slightly countersunk with the tongue surface so that it does not interfere with the tongue and groove joint.
Once the first board is nailed in place, continue to add boards and nail them to the prior installed boards only through the tongue. This way, no nail head will be visible, except for the face nailing of the first and last boards.
Prior to nailing boards in place, center them left to right, so the expansion gap at the ends of the board is similar. Once aligned, side the new board’s groove into the existing boards tongue and tap them together to tighten.
Tapping the boards not only tightens the tongue and groove joint, but tightens the nails of the boards already installed.
Blind nailed joints, with their 45-degree angle backward fasteners, tend to tighten when force is applied in the direction of the fasteners.
To tighten the boards prior to nailing, use a scrap piece of the tongue and groove board as a tapping block and firmly pound on it with a hammer.
The tapping block should be connected to the existing boards using the tongue and groove joint. Using a tapping board for tightening protects the tongue ends of the boards you are installing.
Tap the newly added board tight, and then nail it in place. Nail the board at both edges and the intersection of every joist (which should be marked on the ceiling with chalk or a line).
Ceiling joist spacing tends to vary between 12″ and 24″ depending on the joists and the span distance of the joists.
Prior to installing any boards, you should mark the location of the ceiling joists on the existing ceiling using a chalk line or similar.
Continue adding boards until you cover the entire ceiling surface.
- The Last Few Boards.
When you get close to the end of the ceiling, you will no longer be able to use a hammer and tap-board to tighten the boards.
Instead, use the tapping board with a few pieces of scrap boards to create a space to pry the boards tight using a pry bar or similar against the wall and the tapping board.
When you reach the end of the ceiling, you will likely need to rip (cut lengthwise) a board to fill in and finish the ceiling span. To do so, measure the needed width to fill in the final gap minus any expansion gap you plan to leave.
Cut a piece of beaded board lengthwise after measuring and marking the proper width. Don’t forget to consider the tongue and groove joint when making and marking this width.
To make it easier to rip the final board, join the piece to be cut into another tongue and groove board. I then screw the stabilizing tongue and groove board to my saw horse using deck screws – just my way of doing it.
After ripping the last board, install it and face-nail the wall side similar to the first board.
If the last piece is narrow, join the second to the last board to the final ripped board and install together. Use the wall to tighten the boards then face nail the final piece.
- Paint the Installed Beadboard Ceiling.
After the boards are installed, paint or finish as desired. We painted the beadboard ceilings with Benjamin Moore Advance waterborne alkyd indoor paint tinted “White Chocolate”.
With the boards already primed, the finish coats went on very easily. We two coats of finish applied using a 6 1/2″ Wooster mini roller with a 3/8″ nap roller.
- Install Trim.
To cover the expansion gap between the ceiling and the walls and to finish the covers, add trim. There are many different trim options. We chose a simple 3/4″ quarter round trim.
Similar to the beaded boards, I primed the trim prior to installing it. Use finish nails or the same finish nailer set up to install the trim. Nails should be slightly countersunk and covered with a filler or caulk.
Once the trim is installed, apply your chosen finish or paint.