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Shiplap Ceiling Tutorial To Cover Textured or Popcorn Ceilings

Do you have heavily textured or popcorn ceilings and you don’t want the hassle of removing it? Learn how to install shiplap on your ceiling!

 

In this easy shiplap installation tutorial, we take you step-by-step through the process using premade, primed, shiplap planks to create a beautiful, bright, finished look to any room.

The 70s called and they want their popcorn ceiling back! No one knows exactly why textured ceilings were ever really a thing, but they were. Anyone who has a popcorn ceiling knows they are excellent cobweb collectors and begin to take on a funky yellow tint as they age. Yuck!

We knew this room needed an update, but we both cringed at the idea of scraping the ceilings or skim coating it. Plus, there’s the risk of stirring up asbestos if your home was built before 1990 – even more reason to skip the scraping!

Our Home Office Before the Shiplap Ceiling

Pictures of our home office popcorn-textured ceiling before we installed shiplap

Enter: Shiplap Ceilings!

Installing shiplap is a great way to give a room a little boost. After we completed this shiplap project, we marveled at how much brighter and bigger the room seemed! 

A completed home office renovation included shiplap ceilings to cover an old textured ceiling.

If you want to make your own plywood shiplap, feel free to take on that extra project. You could also choose to rip down sheets of 1/4″ plywood like we did on this faux shiplap wall to make your own planks.

We found a shortcut with premade, primed shiplap planks that have tongue and groove joinery. The premade shiplap was a little extra cash, but it was well worth it in the time that we saved!

But it really just comes down to how much time you want to spend preparing the planks or how much money you want to spend to go with a quicker option of installing premade tongue and groove shiplap planks on the ceiling

If you aren’t quite ready to permanently install shiplap on your ceiling, we get it. It’s a commitment. And much like popcorn ceilings, you don’t want to be stuck with something you aren’t crazy about.

So, if you need to slowly introduce yourself (or husband) to the idea of a new shiplap style ceiling, test a few shiplap decor projects or do a faux shiplap wall to be sure it’s your speed.

Are you ready to jump straight into installing shiplap on your ceilings? Check out these gorgeous shiplap ceiling ideas for some creative options!

How to Install a Shiplap Ceiling: Tutorial & Video!

If you love DIY videos, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss the next one!

We summed the whole process of installing our new shiplap ceiling up in a video tutorial as well as a written out step by step tutorial!

This shiplap ceiling tutorial also contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.

Supplies & tools needed to install a shiplap ceiling: 

  • 16′ planks of shiplap – to figure out how much you need multiply the length by the width of the room in inches and then divide by the width of the planks and then buy 10% extra for waste
  • Miter saw 
  • Measuring tape 
  • Finish nail gun – we used a 16 gauge with air compressor
  • 2″ finish nails
  • Stud finder
  • Ladder or step stool
  • Multi-tool
  • Hole cutter
  • Caulk 
  • Spackling 
  • Putty knife
  • Sanding block
  • Ceiling paint
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller 
  • Paint roller cover 

Step 1. Remove everything from the ceiling.

Start by removing fixtures from your ceiling, including lights, chandeliers, air vents, and anything else that is attached to your ceiling. 

Later in the video, we walk you through how to work around these areas using a few basic tools.

Step 2. Locate the ceiling joists.

Before you begin nailing the shiplap planks to your ceiling, find and mark the ceiling joists with a stud finder.

Curious what ceiling joists are? The main job of joists is to connect the outside walls together and provide support to the ceiling materials in the room below.

Ceiling joists are an important player in this project, because they support your roof from the inside and will act as the “mount” for your shiplap planks.

Joists connect to the rafters, which is the load bearing support for your roof, and basically hold the frame of your roof together. Unless you have a flat roof, you have rafters and joists above your popcorn ceiling. 

Skipping this step could really damage your ceiling and ruin the whole shiplap ceiling project.

Instead of joists, we had sheets of plywood right above our ceiling, so we were able to nail right into the plywood which worked perfectly. Ideally, the joists and planks should run perpendicular to each other.

If you find the joists are running the same direction as your shiplap, attach furring strips to the ceiling with a 16 nail gun into the joists before the shiplap planks to minimize the weight bearing on the joists.

After attaching the furring strips into the joists, you can nail the planks directly into the furring strips.

How much weight can I hang from a ceiling joist?

There are different sizes of joists depending on when your home was built and the room you are working in.

Regardless, shiplap planks should not max out any weight loads, but be aware of any attic storage above the room you are working in.

Step 3. Cut and attach the shiplap planks.

My husband pictured here, using a miter saw to cut shiplap planks before attaching them to the ceiling

Cut the shiplap planks down to the correct size for your room with a miter saw (check out this post to understand why the miter saw is the best type of saw for this job!)

To install a shiplap ceiling, we used a nail gun to secure the shiplap planks to our popcorn ceiling.

The first shiplap plank you add to the wall is the most important to get nice and square because everything else will line up with that one.

As you begin nailing, make sure you are holding your finish nail gun at a 45 degree angle. This will prevent the planks from shifting against the other boards and straining the enforcements above.

We drove the 2″ nails into the edge of the shiplap planks along the tongue. This was to minimize the amount of nail holes on the surface of the shiplap ceiling. We did need to add a few nails here and there for extra support on the bottom side of the planks (the surface of the shiplap).

If you had a super flat ceiling (without heavy texture or popcorn), when you could get away with only adding nails on the tongue side. But we added them because the heavy texture on the ceiling didn’t make for a super flat surface.

How to cut the shiplap ceiling planks around fixtures and vent covers

In this room, we had several air vents and light fixtures we needed to make room for. To make room for these fixtures, we attached a plank to the ceiling close to the fixture’s hole, then made markings where space was needed.

Using a hole cutter for the circular cuts (like the recessed can lights) and a multi-tool for the straight cuts (like for the vent covers), we cut along the markings so we could easily reattach our fixtures and vents over the shiplap ceiling.

Step 4. Sew things up with caulk and spackle.

Now that your shiplap planks are in place on the ceiling, it’s time to caulk and spackle.

Caulking and spackling really seal the deal on the aesthetic of a project. We’ve got a few caulking tips if you need them. It’s tedious, but you’ll be glad you did this part.

First, apply caulk in a small bead with a caulking gun, along the edges of the room. Then, smooth with your finger to create a seal between the walls and ceiling planks.

Using caulk to seal the space between the wall and shiplap ceiling planks

Keep in mind that paint touch ups along the wall may be necessary after caulking. For this project, we planned on painting the entire room, so the messy caulk smears weren’t a major concern for us.

If you wanted to make sure your lines were clean, you could apply painter’s tape to the wall first and then remove the tape after you’re done caulking.

Using a putty knife to smooth spackle over nail holes in the newly installed shiplap ceiling panels

Spackle the nail holes on the surface of the shiplap using a putty knife, sand to smooth, and then you are ready to paint.

5. Complete your shiplap ceiling project 

For all of our ceilings, we use Behr’s Flat White ceiling paint, but you can use any color of your choice. Roll on the paint in the same direction of the planks. 

Putting the finishing touches on our newly installed shiplap ceiling with Behr's Flat White ceiling paint

If you find the paint is running between the shiplap planks, run a screwdriver along edges between the planks while the paint is still wet.

A tip for clearing paint from in between the shiplap planks is to carefully run a screwdriver along the gaps, removing excess paint.

As you are painting, be mindful of “bumping” the walls with your roller (especially if you aren’t planning on painting the walls after the shiplap ceiling is installed). For this reason, it’s a good idea to “cut” into the ceiling with a paint brush, painting about an inch or two into the ceiling planks and away from the walls. We use an angeled paint brush for cutting in and we have a whole tutorial about how to cut in paint.

If you are painting the entire walls like we did, you don’t have to be as careful.

After the planked ceiling is painted and dried, replace your light fixtures and vent covers, and enjoy a beautiful and bright new look! You may even want to put in a fun new farmhouse chandelier to complete the finished shiplap ceiling!

Our new shiplap ceiling brightens up our home office.

Updating aging ceilings doesn’t have to break the bank! Installing shiplap over textured ceilings is a great way to skip scraping and will give your home an updated look that you can be proud of.

Would you install a shiplap ceiling in your home?

Let us know in the comment below!

Easy DIY Tutorial: How to install a shiplap ceiling over an old textured ceiling.
How To Install Shiplap Ceiling

How To Install Shiplap Ceiling

Active Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days
Difficulty: Intermediate
Estimated Cost: $500

Do the ceilings in your home need an update? Here's a step-by-step guide on how we transformed our old, outdated popcorn ceilings into gorgeous shiplap, with minimal effort and mess!

Tools

Instructions

    1. Remove everything from the ceiling.
    2. Locate the ceiling joists.
    3. Attach the shiplap planks to ceiling. As you begin nailing, make sure you are holding your nail gun at a 45 degree angle. This will prevent the planks from shifting against the other boards and straining the enforcements above.
    4. To cut the shiplap around light fixtures and air vents, use a hole cutter for the circular cuts and a multi-tool for the straight cuts, we cut along the markings so we could easily reattach our fixtures and vents over the shiplap ceiling.
    5. Apply caulk along the edges of the room.
    6. Fill nail holes with spackling.
    7. Paint shiplap ceiling with flat white ceiling paint. Roll in the direction of the planks.

Notes

    • If you find the joists are running the same direction as your shiplap, attach furring strips to the ceiling before the shiplap planks to minimize the weight bearing on the joists. After attaching the furring strips into the joists, you can nail the planks directly into the furring strips.
    • If you find the paint is running between the shiplap planks, run a screwdriver along edges between the planks while the paint is still wet.

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