I have to say installing this ceiling the second time was much easier than the first – even by myself. Since all the pieces were precut and numbered – it was kind of a “paint by numbers” job –
uh…once I worked out the logistics.
The main issues I had to overcome for this two-person job were getting the boards into position and holding them there until I could get them nailed – three hands minimum required.
Here’s what you need:
2 – step ladders
2 – quick grip (one handed) clamps
Misc. hand tools
Having a pair of 6′ step ladders on hand is a definite plus allowing you to cover several feet of ceiling span without having to “dismount” while positioning long boards. Position the ladders so you can reach at least one end of the board and close enough together that you can safely straddle the space between the two. You could do this with a platform of some sort but repositioning a pair of ladders is quick and easy.
A pair of quick grip clamps that you can tighten and release with one hand is essential. Make sure you have them within easy reach of the board you’re installing. I hung them on the joists near each ladder before I positioned each board.
Put your brad nailer on the flip-down shelf so it’s easy to grab when you need it.
How to do it
1. Before you start (assuming you’re doing this right the FIRST time) measure the width of the ceiling (perpendicular to the paneling direction) and check to see how many rows of material you’ll need. To avoid needing a very narrow strip when you reach the opposite wall you may need to rip a bit off the width (groove side) of the first row of material to balance it.
2. Start the first row with the groove facing the wall. Leave a slight gap between the paneling and the wall (but close enough so your moulding will cover it). It’s critical that the first row is parallel to the wall so snap a chalk line (where you want the edge that’s away from the wall) or use a few pieces of scrap for spacers (1/8″ or 1/4″ ply with double-sided tape works well).
3. Get the board into position and clamp one end. Step over to the other ladder and line up the other end with the chalk line or against the spacer. Clamp it in place. Check that both ends of the board are where you want them. Nail it close to the wall (where the moulding will cover the nails) and at an angle into the tongue at each joist. Make sure you drive the nails so they don’t prevent the groove of the next row from slipping over the tongue. Practice on a piece of scrap to get your nailer mojo working.
4. Reposition your ladders and clamps for the next board in the row and repeat the procedure. If you need to cut a board you can either measure the space or temporarily clamp it in position overlapping the adjacent board and mark it. Joints on tongue & groove boards don’t necessarily have to fall on a joist but since I was working with fairly thin material I chose to do so.
5. When you’ve completed one row start the next row with cutoff from the previous row – making sure you stagger the joints by at least 16″ or more. The further apart the joints are the less visible they’ll be. Slip the groove over the tongue and clamp it as before. The joints need to move as the wood shrinks and expands (boy, don’t I know it!) so don’t make the joint too tight.
6. Nail just the tongue on all other boards until you reach the opposite wall always making sure to keep the nails from interfering with the groove of the row to follow. If you miss the mark you can pry the board off at that point and re-nail it. If the paneling pulls off the nail just snip the brad off with a pair of nippers flush to the joist and re-nail it.
7. When you reach the other wall you’ll probably have to rip a bit off the tongue edge of the last row of material to fit. Slip the groove over the tongue on the previous row and nail straight up close to the wall where the moulding will cover it.
8. Add moulding around the perimeter to finish it off. If you need to make a joint along a straight run – cut the moulding at a 45 degree angle to make a nearly invisible joint.
9. You’re done! (Since you’re working alone, I guess you’ll have to pat yourself on the back.)