Now the real fun begins! A few options were thrown around on what we wanted for the ceiling but we both kept coming back to some type of wood planked look. Plywood seemed to be the best and most cost efficient material to use. I headed to Lowes and scoured what type of plywood would be best. Most of these types of stores will allow up to a few cuts for free. Anything more than you have to pay per cut or are limited to how many cuts they will even do for you. I needed about 625 sq.ft of plywood to cover all the ceiling real estate! They sold boards that were 48″ x 96″ and the idea was to leave the length of 96″ (8 ft) and cut out 6″ planks from the width. This would help save as much wood as possible and still get the plank size we wanted.
When I told the guy working in lumber how much I needed and how many cuts that would take he looked at me like I was crazy. “There is no way we can do that many cuts for you”, he said. I asked again, saying I could come back once it was finished to allow them to help other customers. His answer will still a resounding no. I thought to myself that maybe I could cut the boards…then I came back to reality.
So I headed to Home Depot to try my luck with them. They had the same plywood boards I needed and the price was actually a few bucks cheaper than Lowes. I gave my speech to the guy working in lumber. He stood there for a few seconds trying to process what I just requested, took a deep breath, and said, “Sure, I think I can handle that. Give me a few hours to get it done and I’ll call you when I am finished.” I helped him load all the boards and rolled them back to the lumber saw. By the way, he was not going to charge me for any of the cuts!
Home Depot for the win! I walked around the store gathering supplies and after about 45 minutes I headed to check out when my phone rang. It was Chris the lumber guy saying he had finished cutting all the boards for me. I spent about $375.00 for wood and supplies. They helped me load it in my car and home I went.
I bought 20 plywood boards (48″ x 96″) which would cover around 32 sq. ft. of ceiling. A few extra planks were cut to allow for a few mistakes here and there too. As I carried the 160 board planks to the basement my wife got to work on white washing each one. White washing wood is a very simple process to achieve.
- Typically, you want to start by sanding the surface. We actually did not sand the boards on this project since the boards were going on the ceiling.
- To get the whitewashed effect, add water to your latex white paint. About 2 x 1 ratio
- Test and add more paint if the look is too thin.
- Grab your roller or paintbrush and get to work
- Use a rag or sponge to wipe the paint off in the direction of the wood grain
- Let dry and add another coat if needed.
I used some fun tools for this project which I purchased on Amazon the week before. I would be nailing the planks directly into the ceiling joists so I needed an air compressor. I bought the DeWalt 165- PSI Compressor along with a Campbell Hausfeld Air Hose for longer reach. Since we had recessed lighting installed I bought the Ryobi Jig Saw to cut out areas around the lights and the air returns. The final tool I purchased was the Black & Decker Circular Saw for larger cuts.
We started in the main living space on the first night. Once my two kiddos went to bed we got cracking. My wife would white wash the planks and I would nail them up once dried. There was insulation already installed so that was one less item we needed to worry about.
Nailing the boards into the ceiling joists is very simple. What takes a little time is using the jig saw to cut out the exact location for the recessed lights and air returns. It took a little bit of a learning curve to get exact measurements without continuing to make unnecessary cuts. Good thing we had some extra boards! Take your time and try to stay patient if it is your first time using a jig saw.
Night after night this week we worked for a solid 3-4 hours. Nailing plank after plank in each room. The bathroom, closets, hallway and soffit areas had drywall which is why we only needed about 625 sq. ft of plywood. My wife would go back over adding black chalk paint to the larger knots on the boards to give some dimension.
Overall, we spent 20 hours putting up the ceiling. It was very labor intensive but it was a great experience! If we did not have recessed lighting, air returns, or other items to contend with on the ceiling it would have been done closer to 15 hours. Those seemingly minor obstacles can really slow the process down. After cleaning up and seeing the finished product we loved how it turned out. Plus, if we ever need to get back into the ceiling it won’t be an issue since each plank can be pulled down separately.