How To Install a Charming Cedar Porch Ceiling

With these step-by-step instructions and a little planning, you could have a unique front entrance like the one at DIY Network Ultimate Retreat 2017.

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: Christopher Shane

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: Christopher Shane

Getting Started

There's nothing quite like the inviting and warm feel of wood around the home. Whether you are building a new porch or revamping your current one, consider adding wood ceilings or accents. Some species such as cedar are naturally resistant to insects and moisture damage.

What You'll Need

Materials: Tongue & groove cedar, 1 ½” 15 ga finish nails, and exterior transparent natural wood finish

Tools: Miter saw, Table saw, jig saw, 15 ga finish nailer, hammer, and nail set

Time: 8 hrs / 100SF

Cost: $6 / SF

Step One

Start by ensuring your existing or new framing is straight, square, and no more than 24” on center. Also keep in mind that the easiest way to install the new ceiling will be perpendicular to the framing. If another direction or pattern is desired, you will need to install cross strapping for attachment.

Step Two

Although there are many options when it comes to porch ceilings, the natural look and charm of wood is a wonderful way to be welcomed home. Some studies have even shown the exposed grain of wood to have a calming affect on the nervous system. In our case, we chose insect and rot resistant Western Red Cedar. Make sure whatever type of wood you use is straight and of good quality. The best examples will be listed as #1, clear or better, or premium. If handled appropriately, it will also be much more consistent and easier to apply the protectant finish before installation. We rolled on two coats of an exterior water based clear finish to highlight the wood grain instead of hiding it.

Step Three

Next, measure the width of the porch run to determine if you want to start with a full or partial course. Symmetric partial courses will have the first and last row as the same width. Starting on a full course may leave you with a tiny strip as the last row. If need be, rip down the first course on a table saw.

Step Four

Depending on how your porch is framed, you may need to notch around structural members such as posts. Use a jig saw to make these clearance cuts as required.

Step Five

Then test fit the piece and adjust if necessary.

Step Six

If you need to tap any pieces in place or to seat the tongue and groove, use a spare piece of wood as a push block. This block will be expendable to protect the finished pieces from hammer marks.

Step Seven

The rows will be run with the tongue side out so that you can fasten through the tongue. This will conceal the nail when the next row is installed. Place the finish nailer at an angle and install one 15 ga nail per ceiling joist. If any of the nails don't set flush, use a nail set to finish them off. Nail heads sticking out will interfere with the next course being installed.

Step Eight

Around the perimeter, it may not be possible to get the nailer at an angle. Since we will be installing trim at the edge, it will not be an issue to install these nails through the face of the board. Also because wood will shrink and swell with changes in the seasons, make sure to leave at least a 3/8” gap at the ends.

Step Nine

Continue installing successive rows across the ceiling. Due to the lengths of the boards, be prepared to have a helper.

Step Ten

If there are any inconsistencies in the wood, it might be necessary use a pry bar to push pieces tight especially on the longest boards. Just make sure not to damage the tongue.

Step Eleven

In areas where a joint is required, don't rely on the factory edge. It may not be perfectly straight.

Step Twelve

Using a slight angle cut at the butt joint will also give a better appearance and tighter fit.

Step Thirteen

After all the courses are finished, trim will need to be installed around the perimeter of the ceiling. We choose a very simple 2 ½” band of the same material.

Step Fourteen

This trim was easily made by cutting down the tongue and groove boards on a table saw.

Step Fifteen

To keep things consistent, also consider wrapping any other structural items in cedar to match. In our case, we had dropped beam at the front of the porch that we wrapped with the cedar as well.

Enjoy Your Custom Ceiling Creation

Not only is wood a carbon neutral product but its warmth and natural grain adds a beauty to any porch. With a little know how and planning, this charming ceiling doesn't have to break the bank either.

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