Kitchen Makeover: Replacing a Kitchen Ceiling

A kitchen in need of a new look gets a new ceiling as part of a general makeover.


New cabinets, combined with a painted drywall ceiling and track lighting, warmed up this kitchen considerably.

New cabinets, combined with a painted drywall ceiling and track lighting, warmed up this kitchen considerably.

Below is a summary of the basic steps, as well as a list of tools and materials used, in this phase of the kitchen remodel — as seen in this installment of Don't Sweat It.


2x4x12 lumber (20)
6" recessed light fixtures (6)
6" trim kits for recessed lights (6)
lamps for recessed lights (6)
1/2" drywall (6 sheets)
joint tape (2 rolls)
low-dust joint compound
20- minute joint compound (1 bag)
45-minute joint compound (1 bag)
primer (1 gallon)
ceiling paint (1 gallon)



Before: The dated tile ceiling and fluorescent light created a harsh look for the kitchen.

Before: The dated tile ceiling and fluorescent light created a harsh look for the kitchen.


cordless drill with battery and magnetic screw tip
drywall circle cutter
drywall jab saw
drywall knives
drywall pan
drywall sanders
chalk line
measuring tape
utility knife
safety glasses




Demolition. Remove all the old ceiling tiles and frames. Remove the perimeter trim and all hanging wires.

Frame it out. Starting against one wall, build the new ceiling frame just low enough to clear the pipes and vents against the ceiling. Make sure you have enough clearance for your recessed lights. If you don't, lower the ceiling slightly until you do. Frame around the perimeter, then fill in with ceiling joists 16 inches on center.

Run the lighting. Install the new recessed fixtures by tying into the wire that went to the old fluorescent light. This will be the start of the circuit. Jump from this light to the others, one at a time, until you have all the lights attached. Remember to match the colors. White to white, black to black, and green to ground.



Hang the drywall. Starting against the longest wall, Begin hanging the drywall across the ceiling joists. Screw the drywall to the joists using 1-5/8 inch drywall screws every 8 inches along the perimeter and 16 inches in the field. Cut the holes for the ceiling lights using a circle cutter and jab saw, or a roto-tool with drywall attachment.

Tape and block. Slightly thin your joint compound ("mud") by mixing in a little water. This will smooth the mud and remove any air bubbles. Start taping the joints by spreading a thick layer of mud over the crack, then setting in your tape. Draw the drywall knife over the tape to remove excess, and continue to the end of the joint. Do all joints, and cover the screw-heads (blocking)

Inside corners. For inside corners, after taping the joint and removing the excess, finish one side, let dry, and do the other. Trying to hit both sides of an inside corner at the same time will always mess it up.

Finish. After the mud has dried, scrape with a 12-inch knife to remove any ridges, and sand any really rough spots. Then, skim over every joint with a 12-inch knife and mud. Using the 12-inch knife will help feather out the mud to avoid any noticeable seams.

Sand, prime and paint. After the second (and third, if necessary) coats have dried, sand the seams smooth using a drywall sander and a sanding pole. Then prime and paint to finish the ceiling project.

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