How to Replace a Drop Ceiling With Beadboard Paneling

Drop that drop ceiling and give your space a major style upgrade with grooved paneling and new lighting.

October 19, 2021

Is your acoustic ceiling looking dated and dull? Replace i inches with tongue-and-groove wood ceiling panels. We used pre-primed 8 feet long x 7 inch wide panels, then installed new crown molding all the way around to finish off the look. Using planks this size is easier than cutting down 4 x 8-foot sheets of beadboard. Most of the time, it only required one person for installation.

Photo by: Shain Rievley

Shain Rievley

Tools and Materials

  • pre-primed MDF beadboard planks
  • pre-primed crown molding pieces
  • chalk gun and tubes of white interior fast-drying paintable caulk
  • 1-1/4” (32mm) 18 gauge finish nails (brads)
  • safety glasses and disposable masks
  • fast drying lightweight spackle
  • latex satin paint
  • latex flat paint
  • paint roller with extender pole
  • work gloves
  • steel molding pry bar
  • nail compressor
  • chop saw
  • jigsaw
  • 2" metal putty knife
  • tarps
  • rubber mallet

Step 1: Remove Old Ceiling

Wearing a mask, work gloves and safety glasses, use a pry bar to remove drop ceiling tiles. Old tiles may break apart as you are taking them down. Place a large tarp on the floor to catch all of the debris for easy clean-up.

Step 2: Prep Ceiling Joists

Repair any damaged framing in the ceiling. Our beadboard panels are 8 feet long by 7 inches wide, so we needed to add a few boards between the ceiling joists to ensure there was something to nail the beadboard planks to. If you need to do this, match the size of the existing lumber in your ceiling.

While we had the ceiling open, we took the opportunity to install new can lights. Installation is easier and more efficient with the ceiling out.

Step 3: Install Planks

Start from one end of the room and work your way to the other. Cut the planks to size with a chop saw. Use a rubber mallet to help lock in the tongue and groove. Secure panels to ceiling trusses using a nail gun, shooting a nail in about every 18 inches. Use a jigsaw if you need to cut around can lights or ceiling fixtures. When you get to a wall, use a pry bar to push the panel into place.

Step 4: Attach Molding

Install crown molding using a nail gun. Cut corner pieces to meet at a 45-degree angle. TIP: If you have to be on the countertop to install the molding, place a gardener’s mat under your knees.

Step 5: Smooth Seams

Run a thin bead of caulk over the seams where planks meet and immediately smooth it out with a damp rag. Do the same where the crown molding meets the paneling. Use spackle to fill in nail holes. Sand after it has dried and wipe with a damp cloth.

Step 6: Paint

Paint the entire ceiling with flat paint. Paint trim in satin finish interior paint. Both the molding and ceiling may require two coats of paint.

Photo by: Shain Rievley

Shain Rievley

Step 7: Install Lighting

Re-install or replace light fixtures.

How to Install Crown Molding

Crown molding is an inexpensive and easy way to add visual interest and value to your home. With just a few tools and basic carpentry knowledge, you can achieve a stylish upgrade within any space.

Next Up

How to Paint a Front Door

Home improvement expert Mina Starsiak shows how to give a brilliant new hue to your entry door.

How to German Smear a Brick Fireplace

Give your fireplace a faux finish that mimics what you'd find in old European cottages with a German smear mortar wash.

How to Paint a Faux Rug on a Hardwood Floor

Learn how to stencil a patterned faux rug to add personality to a room or disguise a worn-out floor.

How to Paint a Laminate Countertop to Look Like Natural Stone

Freshen up a worn or dated-looking countertop with paint. The secret is to take your time and use the right materials to produce durable results that are beautiful and much less expensive than a total replacement.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash

Give your kitchen a facelift this weekend with a little elbow grease, some 220-grit sand paper and a lot of epoxy paint. Find out how to paint a tile backsplash with this step-by-step guide and shop everything you need to get started from our comprehensive materials list.

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

Learn how to remove a textured ceiling without creating a mess using these simple steps.

How to Stain & Stencil a Concrete Patio

Transform your drab slab into a bright, beautiful outdoor oasis with this easy stenciling project inspired by colorful Morrocan tile.

How to Paint a Faux Marble Tabletop

Real stone surfaces out of your price range? Get the look of Carrara marble (for way less) with our easy DIY.

How to Stain or Paint a Wood Fence

Proper maintenance like applying a fresh coat of paint or stain to your fence will help make it last longer and keep it looking great. Follow these tips and instructions to turn your tired, old fence into a backyard statement piece.

How to Clean Ceramic Tile Floors

Make your ceramic tile look like new with these easy DIY cleaning tips.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


Good Bones

6am | 5c

Good Bones

7am | 6c

Good Bones

8am | 7c

Good Bones

9am | 8c

Good Bones

10am | 9c

Good Bones

11am | 10c

Good Bones

12pm | 11c
1pm | 12c
2pm | 1c
3pm | 2c
4pm | 3c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Rico to the Rescue

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.