How to Install a Tongue and Groove Ceiling

Installing tongue-and-groove (aka T&G) boards is a fast, inexpensive way to panel any ceiling or wall. You can install T&G over bare framing, drywall or plaster, so it's a great cover-up for an ugly ceiling.

Most of the T&G you'll find at home centers and lumberyards is 1x6 or 1x8 spruce. But other wood options and sizes can be special-ordered. Some boards are rough on one face and smooth on the other. Others, like the 1x8 boards used here, have a groove down the middle of one face to give the impression of more, narrower boards. Most stores carry 1x4 beaded ceiling board as well. These tips apply to any of the styles.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

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Step 1: Finish before installation

Step 2: Start with battens on finished ceilings

Step 3: Prep the ends

Step 4: Blind-nail the tongues

Step 5: Beat them in!

Step 6: Stagger butt joints

Step 7: Sneak up on cutouts

It’s really tricky to accurately mark cutouts for electrical boxes and other ceiling openings on T&G. The secret is to scribe and/or mark as much as possible in place on the ceiling rather than to try to measure everything perfectly. After you draw the opening, make the cut with a jigsaw and test-fit the board. If it doesn’t fit, you can tweak the cut. But if you really blew it, don’t sweat it. Just cut out the bad spot, use the parts elsewhere and take another swing at it. You’ll be wasting only a few inches of material.

Step 8: Break off the groove flanges

Step 9: Close the joints

Step 10: Cut problem boards shorter

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