Assuming no help, which I'd prefer, and assuming little to no
experience, as I noted in an earlier post, would it be feasible to
afix a longish, shallow "L" bracket to the ceiling to support one end
of a board while I worked with the other end and over towards the
bracket, moving the bracket over every couple of boards or so?
Also, assuming that I wouldn't be able to work with boards long enough
to span the ceiling, is it better to randomly space joints or have a
set pattern. A book I looked through shows joints arranged in a set
organized pattern. That is, one board is 10' and the one joined at its
end is 8'. Then the row next to them is a board 8' joined by one 10'
and so on 10 and 8, 8 and 10. I suppose it depends on the look you
want, but random seems more interesting to me.
And thanks for the comments in the earlier "stupid question?" post, by
Rather than a bracket on the ceiling, it may be easier to run a 2 x 3 along
the wall and slide the ceiling board end in there for support. Two screws
would hold it in place well enough.
Do the joint the way you like them. To follow a pattern you may have more
scrap, unless your ceiling is 18' wide and you can buy half 8' and half 10'
lengths. I'd go with random.
Remember if this is T&G, simply holding one end up isn't good enough,
you have to get the whole board interlocked before you can drive fasteners.
Unless you make the ledger support board force the board end _very_ tight
to the ceiling, but you'll still have to move the ladder back and forth
to try and get it to interlock where it sags.
A helper, even a kid, would make this go a _lot_ faster.
What you can do is simply sling up as much of a whole board as you can, doing
the whole length of each course before the next course, and using the pieces
in the sequence you cut them. This gives you a diagonal pattern of end joints,
the "slope" of which is dependent on how long a board is relative to the course
length. Sometimes that results in a pretty interesting pattern. Waste is
minimized. If you don't have to hit joists exactly for joints (for
a ceiling with T&G you really don't have to), there is no waste - except at
the end of the job.
With some luck and careful planning, you can precut the lumber and stack
them in sequence.
This is the typical way you lay laminate flooring, necessitated by the fact that
adjoining cut ends don't interlock, so you avoid that.
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
It's certainly feasible. I'd probably whip something up that I could slip
over the edge of the installed boards that I could in turn set the new
board on temporarily. Then just slide it off and move it where you need
However, as another poster mentioned, it probably won't help much with
T&G boards, and you probably won't need it anyway.
I installed 1x6 T&G cedar ceilings throughout our house and had no
problem installing 8-10 foot boards solo, once the first row was
installed (for that you might need the "helper" board on one end to get
Essentially, you can slip the groove on one end of the new board, over
the tongue of the already installed board, and work your way down. With a
5-1/2 to 6' arm span, it's relatively easy to hold the one end in place
while you carefully fit the rest of the board and push it down onto the
Once the new board is fully engaged onto the tongue of the preceding
board, use a small T&G scrap and a hammer to make sure it is seated
tightly. I also tapped the end of the board so it made a tight joint
against the next board.
We practiced with the T&G boards in our garage attic before doing our
house. In the garage I made all the joints line up with the rafters,
making sure there were at least two rows of boards between each vertical
joint. Lining up with the rafters produced a lot of waste material.
So on the house we just installed the boards randomly. We used #3 lumber
to save money, and cut around the knots and splits to end up with good
boards. Of course, this left us with many random lengths, so our ceiling
ended up random too. It worked out very well, with much less waste.
Again, just stagger the joints as much as possible, and try to avoid
lining up vertical joints if you can (at least one full row between
Assuming you're working with 10' boards, go across the ceiling, then use
whatever scrap you have from a row to start the next row (the same way
hardwood floors are installed). If you end up with a joint too close to
another, cut the board back a foot or two, and use a full board to span
the joint. Use the cutoff farther along in the ceiling somewhere.
A few tips I learned along the way...
1. Bring the lumber into the room you are installing it in, and let it
sit there a couple of weeks before you install it. This will let it
"Acclimate" to the moisture levels in the room. I failed to do this with
the last load of boards we received, and once the heat from our woodstove
dried out the boards, they started shrinking. It's high enough on our
ceiling that it's hard to notice, but it's not something I would want
down where I'd see it.
2. Don't use a board that is warped. Take my word for it, the warp will
only get worse as the wood dries out... :)
3. Bevel the ends of each board at a 45 degree angle, rather than just
butt the boards together. Wood doesn't shrink "much" lengthwise, but it
will shrink enough to open up the gaps in a simple butt joint. By
overlapping the bevels of boards, the joint can open and close with
varying moisture levels without leaving a noticeable gap. And, it
provides a marginal bit of extra support too.
4. If you can finish the boards before installing, do it. We brushed
polyurethane on our ceilings after installation, and despite our best
efforts, nearly always had poly running down our arms and onto the floor
(new construction, so no harm done, but it was messy).
5. I used a 15 gauge air nailer to secure the boards. Put a nail at every
rafter/joist, aiming at a 45 degree angle where the tongue meets the top
of the board. Then the next board will cover the nail holes so there's
nothing to fill (again, just like installing a hardwood floor).
I agree mainly with what the other posters have said, but while Anthony
has some good stuff there I disagree with him in one point.
I have done heaps of floors, some walls and a few Cedar ceilings, but I
never end joined the boards with a mitre. Never. I always slightly
undercut the square joint and then get the joints as tight as possible
I am not keen secret nailing on floors, but I always to it in walls and
ceilings. Pre dill a hole through the tong and use fine pins and punch
Holding long lengths in position before fixing always calls for a bit
of invention. Depends on the job and any spare material you have at hand.
There's always an easier way. Plan it first. e.g.. I might get a couple
of spare ceiling battens say 3ft in from each side, square off the boards,
clamped near the finishing end, and propped from the floor to underside of
my first board fixed.
Use an offcut of the same boarding to protect the edges if you have to
apply force to get the joints tight. Don't just belt, cramp, lever the
tong or groove without protecting it.
Most wood flooring is "end jointed", with tongues and grooves on the ends
of the boards too. They butt together nicely.
You could machine tongues and grooves into the ceiling boards, but it's
probably a lot of work with very little gain.
I used simple butt joints on our garage ceiling, and a few years later a
few of the end joints have opened up. It's not bad, but it's noticeable.
On the other hand, I beveled the ends of the boards on our house
ceilings, and none of the joints have visible gaps.
Either way works fine, I just preferred beveling, as it took no
additional work using a power miter saw (just tip it to 45 instead of
90). It's what the "professionals" recommended, and it's the same
technique used for extending long wall trim and whatnot.
I've never seen a floor nailer that did not drive the nails in at an
angle through the tongue. How do you nail the floors down any other way?
By face nailing?
A pneumatic nailer makes quick work of this, with no chance of "hammer
dings". It also frees up your other hand to hold the board in place while
I didn't have any problems with boards up to 10 feet long. Once you get
the board started on the tongue, it pretty much stays there on it's own
(unless the board is warped). In fact, there were times I'd set the board
in place and step away to grab the nailer, or a tapping block or
Of course, our ceilings are sloped (6/12 pitch at the shallowest), so it
may not work the same on a flat ceiling.
Thanks for all the great tips and suggestions.
Another couple of questions. First, what size and type of nails are
best and do holes have to be pre-drilled?
Also, has anyone worked with pvc T&G boards or lumber? I'd been
thinking of using cedar, but given that the carport/porch ceilings
have been areas affected by termites more than once in the past, maybe
the pvc would be a practical (though possibly non-traditional?)
alternative. This reminds me of a carpenter I spoke to once about
replacing an entry door who had to struggle to maintain self-control
when I asked about fiberglass doors. He said, somewhat emphatically,
he would only work with wood. So I hope I'm not committing the same
heresy here asking about PVC lumber...
And thanks again for the input.
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