Transforming the look and feel of any room can be as simple as updating the ceiling. If you’re looking to add warmth, character, and a touch of rustic charm our guide on installing a DIY wood plank ceiling is perfect for beginners!

Finished bathroom with wood ceiling.

I have always loved the look and feel of a rustic wood ceiling. I knew I eventually wanted to add one somewhere in our home but didn’t know where until I started our half bathroom makeover!

The warm, natural texture of wood can transform any space, giving it a cozy and inviting atmosphere. In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of installing a wood ceiling, from selecting the right materials to the final finishing touches.

Whether you have dabbled in DIY before or a complete beginner looking for a project, this guide will help you achieve a stunning wood ceiling with ease.

Wood tongue and groove ceiling.


Tools & Shopping List

Recommended Tools

  • Nail Gun
  • Caulk Gun
  • Miter Saw
  • Orbital Sander
  • Stud Finder
  • Ladder

Shopping List

Details & Dimensions

  • Stain Color: 1 coat Early American & 1 very light coat of Briarsmoke (no need to let them dry in between)
  • Bathroom Size: 5 FT 4 IN by 5 FT 8 IN
  • Brad Nail Size: 16 gauge

You can find a whole list of frequently asked questions at the end of this post!

Step-By-Step Guide To DIY Wood Plank Ceiling

Planning and Preparation

Before you start installing your DIY wood ceiling, it’s like getting ready for a big adventure – you need a good map and the right tools!

First, figure out how many ceiling boards you’ll need by measuring your ceiling and then add a little extra for those “just in case” moments.

Once you have all your supplies make sure you have a ladder, a saw for cutting and a stud finder to find the ceiling joists! Oh, and don’t forget safety gear like goggles and earplugs. Now, you’re all set to start your ceiling adventure.

Cutting The Planks To Size

Since I was working with a really small space I cut all my boards before hand. Normally I cut as I go but this section of ceiling was super tiny. I just measure every couple of inches to make sure there were all the same and went ahead and cut my boards.

Staining Wood Planks Before Installing

Before installing the tongue and groove boards on the ceiling, I made the decision to sand & stain them first. No one wants that neck pain of doing all that work once it’s installed above your head!

To sand I used 220 grit sandpaper and my orbital sander. You are just roughing up the surface a tiny bit here to ensure your stain can absorb into your planks.

After sanding, I applied a pre-stain wood conditioner, which is a crucial step many might overlook! The pre-stain conditioner helps the wood absorb the stain evenly, preventing blotchy stain, which can really make a difference in the final look.

Following the conditioner, I applied the stain. For my stain combo I used my tried and true stain combination that I have used throughout my whole home. One coat of Early American and then one very light coat of Briarsmoke. If you want a more in-depth tutorial on how I get this exact look on my wood I have this article you can read:

How To Stain Wood: My Special Stain Combo

Finished wood plank ceiling in half bathroom.

Installing Wood Ceiling

The install of the planked ceiling was pretty simple! For extra support I used liquid nails on the back sides of the wood planks. I didn’t want to chance them falling down at all with them being installed above our heads.

When installing the wood ceiling I started on one end, and worked my way to the other. Making sure that I nailed into the studs on the ceiling and pushed the tongue into the grooves so everything was super secure.

I didn’t bother filling the nail holes in but if you want to that is something you can do!

Wood Ceiling Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you need to seal the wood planks after staining them?

Depends! For my specific project, NO I didn’t seal my wood. Now, if you were to install these in a full size bathroom where you have a shower then I would say YES!

Generally speaking if you are installing in areas exposed to moisture, sealing wood planks after staining them is recommended! You want to protect the wood and the stain from moisture.

You could use a sealer, such as a polyurethane or polycrylic. These topcoats will seal the stain into the wood and provide a durable finish.

How did you work around the exhaust fan?

When it came to installing the wood planks near the exhaust fan I opted for a jigsaw. Initially, I took precise measurements and outlined the exhaust fan opening dimensions on the wood planks.

To do so I just measured the hole on the ceiling and not the exhaust cover. Make sure when using the jigsaw you clamp your wood to your table so it doesn’t move around.

Then maintaining a steady pace, I maneuvered the jigsaw along the drawn lines, guaranteeing a tight fit around the exhaust fan opening.

What stain color did you use?

For my stain combo I used my tried and true stain combination that I have used throughout my whole home.

One coat of Early American and then one very light coat of Briarsmoke. If you want a more in-depth tutorial on how I get this exact look on my wood I have this article you can read:

How To Stain Wood: My Special Stain Combo

Can I use plywood to plank a ceiling instead of tongue and groove boards?

Yes, you can use plywood to plank a ceiling instead of traditional tongue and groove boards. Plywood offers a cost-effective alternative, allowing for a variety of finishes and styles.

When using plywood for ceiling planks, consider the following:

1. Thickness: Choose a thickness that’s appropriate for ceiling installation, typically between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch. Thinner plywood is easier to handle and install on the ceiling but ensure it’s thick enough to avoid sagging.

2. Cutting: Plywood sheets will need to be cut into planks of your desired width. This can be done using a table saw or circular saw.

If you choose to use plywood check out Come Stay Awhile and Joinery & Design Co. they have done amazing plywood wood ceilings!

Final Thoughts

There’s a unique sense of fulfillment that accompanies the journey of creating with your own two hands! It’s seriously the best feeling.

With this tutorial, my aim is to ignite a spark of inspiration within you, prompting you to view your living space through a fresh lens.

Are you ready to get started? Share your thoughts you may have in the comments below. Let’s embark on this adventure together and craft something truly extraordinary, like a kick-a$$ wood plank ceiling!

Happy building!


[Safety is of great importance when working on DIY projects. Always follow proper safety guidelines, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and adhere to local building codes and regulations. READ MY FULL DISCLAIMER HERE.]

Pinterest pin for wood ceiling tutorial.

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