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

Upgrading a Drop Ceiling 01:35

Replace unsightly drop ceiling panels with beadboard for a fresh look.

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 Recessed Lighting

Recessed or "can" lights can be used as task lighting, accent lighting or to illuminate an entire room. They're easy to install into existing wiring and the best part, recessed light don't go out of style.

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.

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