How to Get Rid of Ugly Textured Ceilings

paneling a ceiling

Happy Monday, Friends!  How was your weekend? Mine unfolded somewhat like a novel of epic proportions.  It started out innocent enough.  On Friday morning I took Matty to the airport to catch his flight to Jackson Hole on his annual guys ski trip.  It was an early flight, but that was fine, because it just meant that I got to hit the ground running on my weekend DIY projects a bit early.

After leaving the airport I took my graph paper, pencils, and calculator to Starbucks to get down to business on my weekend project – applying paneling to our office ceiling. I hate hate hate the star-shape textured ceilings we have and have always wanted to do something about it.  The goal was simple enough… I would apply molding to the walls just 1/2 inch from the ceiling, then wedge paneling into the gap, staple to the ceiling, and voila, new ceiling.  I also anticipated the ease at which I would complete this project, alone.  

Although the room is fairly rectangular, there is this strange little angular jut-out at the door, so I had to do the math to figure out how much paneling and trim I would need. I actually had to use cosine (remember?  Like, sine, cosine, tangent that we learned in high school?) to figure out the angles of the doorway.  If the trim were to come together in the corners nicely, I’d have to know the angles, so away I went with some math.  I had to look up the formulas on google, but was pretty proud of myself for doing the long math and figuring out exactly how the trim should be cut.  I dragged out the miter saw, put on my ski goggles (they work amazing for safety glasses) and cut those little pieces with all of my mathematical knowledge. After bringing my cut pieces inside, I applied them all to the wall as to plan. Then, I draped plastic over all my office things and got excited for my next step, applying the panels.

paneling the ceiling

If anyone has ever tried to hold, move, or lift a piece of 4′ x 8′ paneling, you’d know that not only is it heavy, but it’s bendy, and awkward.  I got all five pieces upstairs without scuffing the walls or breaking a window, which I took as my first success.  I laid my first piece on the desk, applied construction adhesive (in an ‘S’ pattern all over the back of the panel), then lifted the first piece above my head and climbed the ladder. I wedged it into the trim and nailed it into place.  Win. This was going to be easy.

Well, the first piece was easy because it went into a corner and it had two of it’s sides being held up by the trim. As soon as I moved onto the second piece, I knew it was going to be much more difficult. My arms were buckling, the panel was bouncing wildly, and I couldn’t hold up the panel and nail it at the same time without the support of the corner trim.  I was in a position where I couldn’t even lower the panel without just dropping it onto the floor… construction adhesive and all.  I was bound and determined, however, to make it work. I very very rarely embark upon anything without knowing that I can finish what I’ve started.  It was my choice to do this project knowingly while my husband was out of town.  I wanted to do it myself and I thought that I could. It wasn’t until my third try with that second panel and a near fall off the ladder that I resigned to asking for help and called my dad. He was out at dinner (because that’s what normal people do on Friday nights), but he’d be over the next morning. I’d like to say that after I knew he was coming, I felt 100% better and fell asleep like a baby, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I was sick knowing that I had started a project that I couldn’t do myself. I felt like a total ditz.

My father is a very interesting man.  He is one part engineer, one part philosopher. He will talk your leg off all night about either thermodynamics or relativity, which I used to think were such opposing traits, but have come to realize that some of the worlds best engineers and mathematicians were also great thinkers. Rene DeCartes and Davinci, and loads of others I can’t think of off the top of my head… regardless, he is one of those. I was sick with the knowledge that he’d come into my house, see the mess I made, and be totally disappointed that I was so irresponsible ( “but, Dad, I did cosine!!” was the only redeeming thing I could think of at that moment).

Here is what really happened.  He came over, with his coffee in one hand and a tool box in the other and he was ready to help.  He didn’t judge my predicament, he was kind about the work I’d already done and didn’t give me a hard time about getting in over my head. We worked side by side on finishing the ceiling and he took my lead. He let me tell him which piece would be next, what my measurements told me, and what the steps would be, he was just there to help. I couldn’t have felt more humbled by his approach.

So here is how we did it…

beadboard paneling on the ceiling

First, I mapped out the entire room to determine both the perimeter and the area.  I’d need the perimeter for the trim and the area for the panels.  While most people would put the molding up after the panels, I did it before so that I could use it to hold the edges of the panels while I nailed.  For my 11′ x 12′ office, I needed 6 pieces of 8′ molding and  5 panels that were each 4′ x 8′.  Three full sized panels, and two more cut into smaller rectangles.  I bought them at the Home Depot for about $15 each and actually had the man at the Home Depot cut them for me as well.  After applying construction adhesive to the backside of the paneling, I used a nail gun to secure to the ceiling.

hanging paneling or beadboard on the ceiling painting ceiling paneling

After applying the paneling (which is shown my this weekend’s instagram), I then used some spackle to fill in the cracks before painting the molding and the entire ceiling.

After the panels were all up, my dad talked me through a few ideas he had for the finishing, but then left it up to me to complete.  I think he knew that not only did I have trouble asking for help, but I also really enjoy doing the work and was fine to be left alone with the remainder. I cannot tell you how much of a burden was lifted off my chest as he drove away and I stared at my beautiful new ceiling.

In hindsight, I don’t know why I was so terrified about what the outcome would be. I had been awake that previous Friday night from about 2am until 6am fretting about the entire situation and how I was going explain to Matt why there was a half paneled ceiling in the office. I think the worry wasn’t so much about the ceiling, but more in the knowledge that I did this to myself.  I chose to do something that anyone else would have immediately known was NOT a one-person job, yet, I was convinced that I could do it.

After I had called my dad Friday night and stopped working on the ceiling, I needed to get my mind off the mess upstairs, so I started reading my most recent book, Real Happiness. The chapter I was on was speaking about how to evaluate yourself in a nonjudgmental way. It resonated with me as I thought about my habit of getting in over my head.  This could easily have spiraled into a thought of, “I couldn’t finish what I started, I’m such a failure”. But instead, the book got to thinking that maybe it’s a good thing that I have faith in myself.  Maybe it’s a good thing that I believe so whole-heartedly that I can accomplish something, that sometimes I manage to get in too deep. There are worse things in the world, right?

paneled ceiling over textured ceiling

After all that, here a glimpse of the finished ceiling!  I love the way it turned out.  It’s subtly paneled and free of texture (aside from my iffy speckling). So, I suppose this post is part DIY, part self evaluation (nonjudgmental, of course). It felt so disgracing to have to reach out to my dad for help (what would the blog world think??  Girl does DIY, Girl botches DIY, Girl calls Dad).  But in the end, it was a wonderful time spent together which accomplished the goal I had initially set out to complete.  And really, I learned more than the fact that hanging paneling requires more than one person, I also learned that asking for help doesn’t mean I failed, maybe it just means that I succeeded in believing in myself, and coming to terms with my limits.



p.s.  The FULL office reveal will be up shortly!  Sorry that today is a little bit of a tease, but we still have a long ways to go before I can show you the whole thing!

p.p.s.  Real Happiness is a book by Sharon Salzberg and was a recommendation from the book I read last week, 10% Happier.  If you’ve ever been interested in meditation, I would highly recommend both books and I would love to involve more people in this meditation journey with me!  I am going to start the 28 day practice TODAY, so if you want to follow along, grab the book and do it with me! You can follow along with my practice here, and via instagram with the hashtag #earnestjourney

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