How to add a Wood Ceiling DIY Tutorial

You are going to LOVE MeLissa’s old wood ceiling! Its gorgeous! When she shared a picture of it in one of our weekly Craft Therapy on Facebook, I knew she had to share how she did it with us! Here is How to add Wood to a Ceiling. Enjoy! -Linda
DIY wood ceiling

DIY Wood Ceiling

Hi.  I’m MeLissa Miller, and Craftaholics Anonymous® asked me to write a guest blog about the wooden ceiling in our master bedroom and how we made it happen.  What will (very soon) be our master bedroom was originally a one car garage with a 14’ plywood ceiling, exposed studs, and a concrete floor.


When discussing the ceiling and lighting for this room my husband’s idea was to have a central ceiling fan, recessed lights, and cove lighting with a drywall (some call it sheetrock) ceiling.  BORING!  Not at all what I had in mind for our bedroom.  For the first time I had a blank slate on which to create the sanctuary I’ve always wanted, and since this will be our ‘retirement home’ I was sticking to my guns no matter how crazy Kyle thought I was.  I wanted an old wood ceiling.

              So the search began for a source of old wood for the ceiling.  Wow…those folks with old wood to sell are extremely proud of it and the price per board foot was way outside of our budget for this project.  To cover the ceiling (approximately 300 sq ft) would cost almost $1500!!  So the search began for an ECONOMICAL source of old wood for the ceiling.   The use of pallets to create beautiful wall coverings, signs, and even furniture is wildly popular right now.  After seeing so many of the pallet wall photos on Pinterest I thought ‘why not on our ceiling?’  Most of the time they’re free so that would take care of the budget issue.  We gathered several old pallets to test, but after 30 minutes of fighting to remove a measly three nails from the first pallet we decided that was not the route for us.  Our oldest is a freshman in college and our youngest is in first grade…no time for pulling nails around here.  (**Not to mention there are some pretty scary chemicals used to treat these pallets.  So if you decide to use old pallets for a project make sure you research those chemicals before bringing them into your home.)

             We were feeling defeated at this point.  We were discussing just where we could find the old wood I had my heart set on and not blow the budget.  The AT&T repairman at our home for a service call overheard us and suggested a local sawmill.  As soon as he left we drove over to the local sawmill, and spoke with the owner.  Folks…he GAVE us the old wood.  GAVE it to us because it would get it out of his way!!!

After getting the lumber home we had to prep it for long-term use in our home.   Here are the steps we took to ensure a lasting, beautiful, critter free ceiling.

How to Add a Wood Ceiling Tutorial

*****Tools/products we used:  Pressure washer, garden sprayer, Tim-bor Professional insecticide/fungicide, air nailer (and air compressor), nails, circular saw, and hammer.

Step 1:  We spread the boards out in a single layer in the back yard and pressure washed both sides.

old wood

Step 2:  We left the boards for 7 days (without rain) so that they could dry completely.
Step 3: We soaked the tops side of the boards with an insecticide and fungicide that is safe for home use.  We simply followed the directions on the container and used a garden sprayer.  We left the side we’d just soaked dry for two days, and then flipped the boards to treat the second side.  Once again we left the boards for 2-3 days to completely dry.

how to add an old wood ceiling image01
Step 4:  We brought the completely dried boards inside, stacked them, and left them for 3-4 days so that they could acclimate to the interior climate of our home (the same as you would do with raw hardwood flooring).

 Step 5: We cut and nailed them.

how to add a wood ceiling
The end result??  wood ceiling

wood ceiling tutorial wood ceiling diy
A gorgeous ceiling that I cannot stop looking at.  I’m constantly surprised by how it changes throughout the day as the sunlight coming in through the windows changes.  Oh, and yes those are tractor funnels we made into pendant lights…another of my crazy ideas my sweet hubby indulged.

I’m totally envious of MeLissa’s awesome old wood ceiling! Thanks for sharing how you did it, MeLissa!  

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Hi! I'm Linda, the craft addict behind Craftaholics Anonymous®, a craft blog. Crafting is cheaper than therapy, right? When I'm not DIYing something, I can be found taxiing around our 4 crazy kids or working out. Or shoe shopping... because you can never have too many shoes! Happy crafting! ♥

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  1. 1

    Melissa, this ceiling is absolutely beautiful! I would love to do this for my hubby’s office. Thank you so much for this very informational write up. Now on to the search for a local sawmill! The pendant lights are super cool too!

    1. 1.1

      Thank you!!!

  2. 2

    Oh wow, I love it! I’m about to do something similar in whitewashed wood in our bathroom downstairs, but the ceiling is drywall so I’ll have to take the extra step to find some studs. I agree – pallet wood, as attractive as it is, is a TOTAL PAIN in the butt to Get, salvage, and then treat. I prefer to use wood & an aging process of steel wool and vinegar, just as nice.

    Your room came out great! Thanks for sharing

    1. 2.1

      Thank you!! We also did an old wood ceiling in our rear entry-way and that was over drywall. Kyle marked where the studs were and it wasn’t difficult at all. Good luck on your bathroom project!

  3. 3

    seriously….can I just bring you to my house to help us renovate!!! lol!!!

    1. 3.1

      Haha! I would LOVE to do this stuff for a living!!! :)

  4. 4
    melle e

    so i love love love this… I waited *somewhat impatiently* for hubbs to get home to show him as we’re mid renovation in at least 2/3 of our home.

    he’s willing to consider it, but has a question about fire breaks?

    He said something about *code says…* blah blah blah. in one of my fashion over function ears and out the other but he is wondering if it’s got fire breaks somewhere. normally, you’d add this to existing structures and there’d be drywall to act as a fire break and stop the fire from spreading… he’s curious before he commits for me how y’all did that?

    1. 4.1

      Hi Melle E
      Since we were remodeling a one car garage into a bedroom our fire breaks were already in place between the garage and the main body of the house. The original house (built in 1964) did not have a side porch and garage and we believe these were additions in the mid 1980s. So we have not only drywall between the main house and master suite but there are also two walls of brick between them. My husband is a master electrician and has worked in construction for twenty-plus years so he does everything by the book. I hope this helps.
      Good luck!!

      1. Thank you for getting back so fast!

        I was able to gloat to my worry wort husband that yours was a professional so it would be F.I.N.E.

        Now all I need is wood….

        My FIL, said worry sorts father, actually HAS a sawmill…. This may not be as hard as it sounds to make happen!


        (Ps. Hope my original comment wasn’t taken negatively…. He and I were both genuinely interested in how y’all handled that and it wasn’t intended to be snarky at all!)

        1. MeLissa

          OH my! I didn’t take your questions as being snarky at all!! Ask away all the questions you have and I’m happy to answer to the best of my knowledge. It really isn’t that hard to do, and it was much easier than what my husband had originally planned to do. LOL

  5. 5

    Wow well done, this looks amazing, would love to see your room completed too. Well done.

    1. 5.1

      Thank you!! We’re working on the hardwood floors now, and we’ve used the old wood as a false front for our closet (complete with a tin roof and old store door). I’ll be happy to share photos when we’re all done.

  6. 6

    How beautiful! I love this idea and you can’t go wrong with free!! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. 6.1

      Thank you very much!!

  7. 7
    Tonya McLeod

    Love it! Can I ask where you found/purchased your lights? Thank you!

    1. 7.1

      Thank you! I’m glad you noticed our pendant lights! :) I searched around for some to purchase already made, but the cheapest I found were $189 each!! Being that $1350 (including tax and shipping) wasn’t in my lighting budget we opted to make those. Our total cost to make six was just under $150. Stay tuned for a guest blog about how we made those later in the Spring. ;)

  8. 8

    Melissa, your ceiling is just beautiful! I love the lighting fixtures you chose as well.

    1. 8.1

      Thank you!!!!

  9. 9
    Kyle B.

    Hi Melissa,

    The photo of your husband working on the ceiling and the finished picture sold me. You both have demonstrated another great way to re-use what we already have, another reason why NOT to do drywall everywhere!! Thanks for the reminder to be careful and check into the HazMats (Hazardous Materials) that can be found in materials previously used in industrial purposes. But there is soooo much ‘stuff’ out there to try when you think outside of the box. You just taught this ole gal a new trick. The electrical wiring and fixtures, again really kool.

    1. 9.1

      Thank you!! We are LOVING it more and more every day!!

  10. 10

    What size boards were these. We are trying to redo ceilings in our old trailer.were considering oing with 1×2 boards because they are only $.89 each.

  11. 11

    This is SUCH a beautiful idea! I’ve been brainstorming ways on how to cover up my HUGE master bedroom (POPCORN.. blegh) ceiling and make it more cozy. This is perfect! Thank you for this information!

    1. 11.1

      I am SO sorry that I have been remiss with following up to the comments. We’ve finally finished everything in our bedroom and LOVE IT!! Just make sure that you buy some inexpensive brown or black paint to paint over the ceiling before using the wood. That way if there are any gaps between the wood it won’t show through as white patches. :) Good luck!

  12. 12

    I am going to do this and I have a question for you, in the interest of weight and money I am wanting to attach tar paper straight to the rafters and then nail the boards straight to the rafters over the paper. Like I said, I would be worried about the weight of both plywood or sheetrock and then the boards, the tar paper will hold the insulation and provide a shade that will be good for the cracks that might be left behind. Do you think this will work just as nicely as your method? I think you did a wonderful job, it looks beautiful.

    1. 12.1

      We made (and I use the term ‘we’ loosely! LOL) sure to nail the board into the the beams running between the rafters. I’m not sure if you can see it closely enough in these photos but our nails run in straight rows from one end of the ceiling to the other. I hope this helps. :)

  13. 13

    Perfection! Absolutely stunning! I’m a huge fan of old reclaimed wood and pallet projects. I’ve never seen the ceilings done this way until today, when my husband and I were looking at a potential house to buy. It has inspired us to do these ceilings in our future home! Just out of curiosity, what does the whole room look like together (Ceiling, walls and floors)? Great tutorial!! So simple, beautiful & unique!

      1. MeLissa

        Oh, and what you’re seeing here is the ceiling, and my closet with loft area at the top.

  14. 14

    I love the ceiling, nice work! I have always thought about doing a reclaimed wood accent wall…

    One question: when your laying hardwood floors, you leave a small gap between the floorboards and the wall to allow for the wood to expand – which is then covered by the baseboard trim. Did you allow for the same in your ceiling, or did you cut the pallet to the exact size of the ceiling? Did you somehow cover the gap?


    1. 14.1

      Thank you! We did leave a gap around the perimeter of the ceiling. My husband cut down several boards to a 2″ width and we used them as trim to cover the gaps.

  15. 15

    OMG! That is goooorgeous! LOVE it! I’ve been wanting to plank some walls/and or ceilings forever!! I just bought an oil funnel last month in an antique/junk shop and told them I was making a lamp out of it, they were shocked but excited to see it completed. HaHa! Where did you get your light kit? And where did you get so many funnels? Mine is used, but I would really love to have two, one for each side of the bed. And how about a post one the wiring you did! I love that it’s “exposed”!!

    1. 15.1

      Thank you! We are still loving our master bedroom! My husband is an electrician so we made the light kits from scratch, but you can buy them already made at Lowe’s and Home Depot. The funnels (8 quart tractor funnels) I ordered from Amazon, and aged them myself with a brine of vinegar, salt, and used coffee grounds. I am so sorry for the delay in responding to your questions. This site does not notify me or alert me to questions/comments.

  16. 16

    I absolutely LOVE this look! Great job!! Question re: the lighting – how/when did you do the wiring for the light fixtures? Did you use existing wiring in the ceiling and simply cut holes in the wood before nailing to the ceiling?

    1. 16.1

      The wiring for the lighting is actually exposed on the ceiling. It’s inside conduit (we painted dark brown) that you see connecting all the lights.

  17. 17

    How did you talk them into giving you free wood? I need to learn those techniques.

    1. 17.1

      Hahaha! I tried over, and over to pay him for the wood. Just a nice older gentleman.

  18. 18

    Love your ceiling. Looks awesome. Been thinking about doing something like that in my living room and kitchen.

    1. 18.1

      Thank you! We used this in our back entryway and on the front of our closet too. :) I picked up a load of this old wood for a friend and she has used it in her kitchen as a backsplash and in their master bathroom as an accent wall.

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  20. 19

    Did you find that the wood was too heavy to hang on the ceiling we are looking to do something similar but were concerned with the weight if the barnwood.

    1. 19.1

      It was not too heavy. You just have to clearly mark where your stud beams are and make sure you are nailing into the beams. Nailing it into the drywall would definitely be too heavy and cause it to fall.

  21. 20

    hey mellisa, loved the idea..just one question. doesnt the wood expand and contract due to humidity and heat. Do they start falling apart in time.? do they last? im an architect and im thinking of doing it in a dental clinic which has a tight budget. so any info would be helpful. thinking of using the laminate wooden flooring which is easily available and inexpensive around here.

    1. 20.1

      First let me apologize for the delay in responding to your questions. This site does not alert me when there are comments, and today I happened across this post for the first time in ages. When we were putting up the wood ceiling we left 1/4-1/2″ clearance around the perimeter much the same as you would do when installing a traditional hardwood floor. We live in South Carolina and experience some pretty high humidity levels and we’ve not had any buckling, warping, or boards pop loose. We’ve also not seen any signs of further decaying, or had any bits of wood falling. I hope this helps you, and again I’m sorry for not seeing this sooner.

  22. 21

    Very nice looking ceiling. Well done! I work day in and day out with reclaimed wood. You guys did an awesome job!

    1. 21.1

      Thank you! We are still loving it!

  23. 22

    Looks nice.
    Just want to add 1 thing. Please use safety railings when using a platform or scaffolding. Toe kick, middle bar and top railing. It is so easy to step back and fall off.

  24. 23

    Omg, love it and the lighting! Do you have a tutorial on how you did that?