Paneled Ceilings 101: Everything You Need to Know


Prominent in the aisles of home improvement stores and popular in home improvement living rooms, the bead panel is a great way to dress up drab walls and ceilings. Log boards are flat boards with one or two “logs” – semi-circular, raised ridges – milled vertically into the face of the boards. When installed on a surface, it gives the appearance of two or three narrower boards side by side. Paneling was traditionally used on the lower part of walls (that is, paneling), but it has since become a trend for ceilings, where it gives a cozy cottage feel to a room. If you’re intrigued by the idea of ​​installing a paneled ceiling, keep reading – we’ll give you all the details and explain how you can achieve the look.

Paneled ceilings: everything you need to know

Photo: Zillow House at Benton, LA

From functional to fashionable

In the late 1800s, Placoplâtre (often ground from white pine) was introduced as paneling for interior walls. Its dual purpose was to add a certain degree of insulation and to protect the lower part of the wall from impacts from chairs and scuffs from boots. Besides, it looked great! Beadboard remained popular through the Victorian era, but its appeal declined slightly during the Roaring Twenties when glamorous wallpaper has become fashionable. However, the bead panel never completely disappeared and is still found today in homes built in every decade of the last century.

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The exterior wood plank, crafted from weather-resistant fir or yellow longleaf pine, was also a staple on the ceilings of country-style covered porches, a timeless design that never went out of style. On interior ceilings, Placoplâtre didn’t really catch on until the 1950s, when it became a way to cover old plaster with unsightly cracks. For country houses and farms, Placoplâtre was the updating material of choice, which is why it is always associated with rural charm.

Material issues

Here are the ball board basics you need to know:

  • Pine is the most common material used in creating Placoplâtre boards, which are approximately 5/16 “thick, 3 ½” wide and are available in eight foot lengths, such as these. Hakwood Knotty Pine Beaded Planks (Available from Home depot).
  • Siding planks feature a tongue-and-groove joint, which means that one side of a plank has a tongue (protrusion) that runs the full length of the plank, and the other side has a corresponding groove. When installed side by side, this creates an interlocking reinforcement that keeps the boards flat and even.
  • On the price side, plan to spend around $ 1.50 per square foot (boards only) to cover a ceiling. Professional installation could add $ 2 to $ 3.50 per square foot.
  • While you may be familiar with installing tongue-and-groove hardwood planks on a floor, ceiling installation is more difficult, so you can hire a professional. However, there’s a new (and more DIY-friendly) trend in wainscoting ceiling planks – which costs $ 2.50 to $ 4.19 per square foot and is available in over a dozen shades of wood – which we discuss further in the installation section.

Advantages and disadvantages

Although paneled ceilings are popular, there are several considerations to keep in mind before purchasing the material.


  • Installing wainscoting on your ceiling will transform the look of all of your decor. A ceiling is the largest visible surface in a room, its extent is only broken by a light fixture or a fan. The bead panel draws the eye upward and creates visual texture.
  • Homeowners who hate their existing popcorn ceiling texture can rely on plasterboard to hide it completely, removing the work of scratch it of the equation.
  • Beadboard is relatively affordable, compared to other professionally installed ceiling treatments, such as tray ceilings, which can easily cost over $ 10,000.
  • Do-it-yourself ball board kit systems can be installed by an owner with basic carpentry knowledge.
  • Standard unfinished wood planks can be painted to match or complement other trim in the room.


  • Unless you are a skilled craftsman, the traditional wooden bead board is not a DIY project. To save money, you can have a contractor install it and paint it yourself afterwards.
  • A leaky roof or faulty overhead plumbing may result in water damage to the paneling plank, which may require replacement.
  • While listed as a plus above, the bead panel makes a major statement, not a subtle undertone, so make sure it’s a look you want for the long haul. While you can remove the wainscot panel by lifting each plank (or clip), you’ll end up with several nail holes in the ceiling that will need to be filled in before you can repaint.

Installation information

Below, details on the placement of standard paneling and Armstrong WoodHaven Bead Panel (available at Lowe’s), made from medium density fibreboard (MDF) and virtually identical to solid wood chipboard for design reasons. Whichever type of paneling you choose, you’ll want to install a cornice (ceiling edging) around the top of the perimeter of the room to give a finished look and cover the small gap that will remain between the paneling and the wall (needed for expansion).

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Paneled ceilings: everything you need to know

Photo: Zillow at home East Hampton, New York


Installing standard wood planks is a challenge as each plank must be nailed blind to the ceiling joists or furring (boards installed to the ceiling perpendicular to the joists). The process involves using a pin (a nail gun that shoots pins) through the tongue of the board at an angle that penetrates the joist or furring, while squeezing the board firmly against the previous board. This same process is used to install hardwood flooring, but performing the task over the head is difficult and time consuming, and if the pins are not installed correctly the planks will not fit. perfectly and the results will look like an amateur.

Paneled ceilings: everything you need to know



Armstrong WoodHaven siding panel installs with special fasteners that attach directly to furring or joists without the need to blind nail each plank. The paneling planks then slide directly into the clips, which are not visible from below. Installing each row of planks is a simple matter of attaching the clips and then sliding the planks into place. This creates a “floating ceiling” because the boards are held in place by the clips, without securing them directly to the joists or furring.

Two other installation methods are also available with this system. Paneling planks can also be installed by attaching special rails to the ceiling, then attaching the clips to the rails before sliding the planks into place. The third very innovative way to install WoodHaven Beadboard is to attach it to the grid of an existing suspended ceiling. For basement dwellers, this opens up a whole new world of design possibilities. Distinctive Easy-Up clips attach to the existing grid, and the wainscoting planks easily slide into place.

Minor maintenance

Paneled ceilings are a snap to maintain!

  • Run a long-handled feather duster over the boards about once a month to remove any bits of dust.
  • If necessary, wipe down the boards with a soft, damp cloth.
  • Quickly repair any leaks in the roof above, or in plumbing fixtures and pipes, to make sure you don’t have to replace any water damaged siding boards.

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Receive free, no-obligation quotes from licensed contractors near you.


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