Need to revamp a room? Is your favorite space feeling a bit stale? Don't ignore one often-overlooked room transformation, the ceiling. A custom ceiling treatment can totally transform the look and feel of a space. Today a variety of premade ceiling treatments, from faux tin panels to prefinished wood planks, are available. With a little DIY know-how and creative reuse of materials, you can completely alter the look of a room in just one day.

Step 1


Photo By: Mona Sadler

Mona Sadler

Select Ceiling Material

When selecting a material for this project, keep in mind that it should be non-toxic, free of insect infestation and stable enough to be installed on the ceiling. In this case, an old dock served as the source for cladding. Once the dock was dismantled and materials sorted, the best and straightest dock boards were culled from the pile.

Step 2


Account for Fixtures and Wiring

Existing ceiling fixtures need to be removed by a licensed electrician before starting and reinstalled at completion. Be sure to consult an electrician on items such as recessed lighting and fans that may require relocation or retrofit mounting. Also ask the electrician to relocate unprotected attic wiring that could be hit with an over-driven fastener. Running wiring on top of existing ceiling joists instead of on the side will help keep it out of harm’s way.

Step 3


Photo By: Mona Sadler

Mona Sadler

Prepare the Ceiling Surface

Use a stud finder to locate existing ceiling framing. With a helper, chalk-line each joist across the room. It may be necessary to scrape off a heavy ceiling texture to create a flat surface. Install 1/2” plywood over the existing drywall or plaster, making sure to screw through the plywood and into the overhead framing. Use chalk lines as a guide and install screws 12” on center. As an alternative to screws, a pneumatic framing gun can be used. Since the plywood will support the weight of the new treatment, it needs to be secured appropriately.

Step 4


Photo By: Mona Sadler

Mona Sadler

Paint Plywood

If reclaimed material does not overlap or will leave small gaps when installed, paint the plywood with flat black paint to create a seamless finish. Be sure to mask off the room and cover any non-removable furniture before painting begins.

Step 5


Photo By: Adrian Henson

Adrian Henson

Mark the Ceiling

Once the ceiling substrate is ready, chalk a center reference line and work from that line out. If material is squared off, add a perpendicular reference line across the other axis of the room. This will guarantee equal and even reveals at each wall. In this case, the material length dictated that the room be split into thirds.

Step 6


Photo By: Adrian Henson

Adrian Henson

Begin Installation

Trim the material to equal lengths and install one row at a time, fastening each piece appropriately. In this case, construction adhesive was applied on the top of each dock board and two 2” framing nails at each end (since the end joints were going to be covered) were used.

Step 7


Photo By: Mona Sadler

Mona Sadler

Make Adjustments As Necessary

It may be necessary to cut the last piece to fit the space closest to the wall. If cladding is a natural material, such as wood, be sure to leave a 1/4” gap for expansion and contraction.

Step 8


Photo By: Mona Sadler

Mona Sadler

Prepare Edge Banding

In this case, reclaimed joists were used to cover the seams and create the look of the original dock framing and supports. To prep material, first cut joists to the required depth. Apply a bead of construction adhesive to the top of each band.

Step 9


Photo By: Mona Sadler

Mona Sadler

Install Edge Banding

Attach joists to the ceiling with 15 ga. finish nails. If the ceiling treatment is not thick enough to serve as an anchor then select a fastener long enough to penetrate into the plywood layer installed earlier.

Step 10


Photo By: Jason Kisner

Jason Kisner

Finish the Ceiling

If necessary, treat the ceiling with stain, paint or clear coat. Ask an electrician to reinstall ceiling fixtures. Enjoy this unique reclaimed wood wall treatment!