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Attractive beadboard plank ceiling is easy to install

Dear Ms. Builder: My husband and I are remodeling our living room. We at the point of selecting the type of ceiling material. What do you think of beadboard or plank paneling? - Janice F.

Dear Janice: When it comes to room decor, the ceiling is often the forgotten wall. A properly designed, decorated and illuminated ceiling can become the focal point of your new living room and establish its character.

The modern options for finishing the room ceiling are nearly endless - plywood paneling, tongue-and-groove paneling, stamped metal panels, acoustical tiles, wallpaper, various fabrics, etc. Beadboard and plank paneling are actually types of tongue-and-groove paneling and would be a good choice for a do-it-yourself project.

The most commonly used beadboard ceiling material is about 5/16 inches thick and about 3-1/2 inches wide. There is a routed groove down the center of each plank with the same contour as the tongue-and-groove edges. When it is installed on the ceiling, each plank appears to be two narrow planks. You can expect to pay about $1.25 per square foot in eight-foot lengths.

You should install the beadboard perpendicular to the ceiling joists. If you have removed the old drywall ceiling or you have access to the attic space above the living room, you will see the joists. If you are planning to install it under the existing drywall, use an electronic stud finder to locate the studs and their direction. They are probably in 16-inch centers. Snap caulk lines on all the stud locations.

Now you can determine how much beadboard material to buy to finish the ceiling. Make sure to thoroughly prime or stain both sides and all the edges of each plank before attaching them to the ceiling. This is important to block moisture on the top side from migrating through the plank and causing blistering on the exposed ceiling surface.

Before starting to nail the primed planks in place, make sure that the room walls are really parallel. You will need several extra pairs of hands for this. Have a helper hold one plank up tightly against one wall. Have another helper do the same on the other wall.

Measure the distances between the ends of the two boards. Don't be alarmed if the measurements are not identical. Very few rooms are really truly rectangular. Move the ends of each boards in until the measurements are identical. The narrow gap with the wall will be hidden under the moulding. and nail the first board in place.

Always start with the grooved edge against the wall. Drive 4d finishing nails through the tongue and into the joist. Drill small pilot holes through the face of the plank near the wall and nail that edge to the joists. All the other planks will be held in place just by the nails through their tongues. The grooved end will slip over the previous tongue.

Use a nailset to gently tap the nail heads slightly below the tongue surface. Slip the next plank's groove over the tongue of the first plank. Hold a block of wood against the second plank's tongue and tap it to make sure that it's groove fits snugly over the first plank's tongue. Be very gentle so that you do not damage the tongue or the next plank will not fit.

Unless you are extremely lucky, the final plank will be too wide to fit. Use a circular saw or table saw to rip it to the proper width to fit against the wall. Slip it over the tongue, drill pilot holes and nail it through the face like you did with the vary first piece. Add the moulding and your ceiling is complete.

Tools and materials required: tape measure, hand saw, circular or table saw, hammer, drill, nailset, caulk line, painting items, primer or stain, nails, moulding, beadboard

Send your questions to Ms. Builder, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com/msbuilder.