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How to Hang a Laminated Plank Ceiling

To create a classic country or cottage look in your home, consider adding a laminated plank ceiling that's designed for a do-it-yourselfer to install. On any ceiling, planks are a definite attention getter, and on a less-than-perfect ceiling, they're a good coverup, too.

If the plank ceiling will be going into your bath, look for planks designed to resist humidity.

The interlocking tongue-and-groove planks can be installed in several ways, but in a bathroom, they're attached to two crisscrossing layers of furring strips, creating adequate air space above the planks. The planks are held up with a series of metal clips, which are slipped into the edges of the plank and screwed in place. The clips and screws are concealed as the next plank is installed. Instead of using clips, you can staple the planks in place.

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The planks are 3/8 inch thick. Add that to the depth of the two layers of furring strips to determine how much ceiling height the plank ceiling will take up. If the room has a ceiling light fixture or vent, plan to mount the electrical boxes so that they’re 3/8 inch lower than the furring strips. To prevent discoloration of the planks, choose a light fixture that will not raise the temperature of the planks above 230 degrees.

To install a laminated plank ceiling, follow these steps:

  1. Decide which direction the ceiling joists run and snap a chalk line perpendicular to the joists every 16 inches across the ceiling.

    When you're planning the job, think about the directions you want the planks to run. Keep in mind that the planks run opposite the direction of the furring strips they're attached to.

  2. Fasten a 1-x-3 furring strip to the ceiling along the chalk line, using 2 1/2-inch wood screws.

    Be sure to attach furring around the perimeter of the room. Use two nails or screws at each joist to keep the furring flat. When necessary, shim the furring strips to ensure a flat installation of the planks.

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  3. Repeat the process, installing another row of furring strips that crisscross the first row.

  4. Find the width of the first row of planks by measuring the room in inches, parallel with the strips.

  5. Divide that number by 5 (the width of the planks) to find out how many planks you need.

    For example, if the room measures 11 feet 4 inches, change it to 136 inches. Divide that amount by 5 inches and you get 27 planks with a remainder of 1 inch. Add 5 inches to the remaining 1 inch, which equals 6 inches. Divide 6 inches in half and get 3 inches. This is the width of the first row of planks. You will have 26 rows of full-width planks, with the first and last rows 3 inches wide.

  6. Rip (cut lengthwise) the planks to the proper width for the first row.

    Be sure to cut off the tongue edge of the plank. If it's a little rough, that's okay because it will be covered by molding.

  7. Decide the starting point for aligning the first row of planks by measuring from the starting wall at each end of the room and marking the distance equal to the width of the starting plank plus 1/2 inch.

  8. Snap a chalk line on the marks so you'll be able to align the planks.

  9. Hold the first plank so that its grooved edge is on the chalk line and it's about 1/2 inch away from the wall (so it can expand).

  10. Insert one of the metal clips into the groove that's milled in the edge of the plank and drive the screw into the furring strip.

  11. Fasten the edge of the plank nearest the wall by screwing through the face of the plank.

  12. Continue this process, putting one clip into each furring strip.

    As you proceed, make sure that all the end joints fit together tightly. Check that the tongue is fully seated in the groove and the ends butt tightly together.

  13. To begin installing the full-width planks in the second and subsequent rows, choose random-length planks and stagger them.

    This arrangement creates the most natural and pleasing appearance. When necessary, cut the planks.

  14. Continue this process, working your way across the ceiling and always screwing one metal clip at every furring strip.

  15. Cut the last row of planks to width.

    They should be the same width as the first row (see Steps 4 and 5).

  16. Slip them in place and screw through the faces of the planks as close to the wall as possible to secure them.

  17. To finish the installation and conceal the gap around the perimeter of the ceiling, install molding.

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