Beadboard Ceiling: Is It Still Trending?

Despite what you may have seen in the last dozen houses you’ve visited, there are many different types of ceilings available. Most older homes have popcorn ceilings while most newer ones have drywall ceilings

One type of ceiling that isn’t as popular as it once was is beadboard ceiling. The reason it isn’t as popular has nothing to do with practicality nor looks, but it simply hasn’t been its time. But perhaps it is now. 

What Is Beadboard Ceiling?

What Is Beadboard Ceiling?View in gallery

A beadboard ceiling is a ceiling made from decorative planks. Beadboard ceilings can come in either panels or planks that fit together with tongue-and-groove technology. The boards are between two and six inches. 

Beadboard ceilings are usually made with real wood but they can also be made with laminate, plastic, or other similar materials. It’s all about getting that beadboard ceiling look, with planks stretching all the way across. 

History Beadboard Ceilings

History Beadboard CeilingsView in gallery

Beadboard ceilings have been around since the 19th century. It originated, likely in England, over four hundred years ago. Its original purpose was to insulate the home by taking away the previously exposed ceilings.

The ceilings were brought to American architecture during the English colonial age and are still very popular in New England homes. The ceilings were made to continue the wainscotting that covered the walls. 

Beadboard Ceilings Today

Beadboard ceilings haven’t changed much visually. Today, beadboard can be found in planks and panels, both with various types of grooves. Some grooves are square indentions while others are more detailed.

Oftentimes, fiberboard is used instead of wood simply because wood that is thin can warp and cause structural problems. So MDF, medium-density fiberboard, is the go-to choice, coming in 4×8 panels.

Why Get Beadboard Ceilings

There are many reasons to get beadboard ceilings. Of course, the first thing to consider is whether you like them or not. If you are in love when the look then go for it. But it isn’t the only reason to get beadboard ceilings. 

Porch beadboard ceilingView in gallery
Image from flickr.

Some people like beadboard for much more practical reasons. There are still plenty of reasons to get beadboard even if you’re not in love with the look. Here are some reasons for those who need convincing. 


If you are installing beadboard ceilings yourself then you won’t pay more than a dollar or two per square foot. More often than not, you’ll pay less than a dollar per square foot. This is insanely cheap.

If you hire a professional, expect to pay closer to five dollars per square foot. This is more, but compared to other ceilings, it’s still much cheaper because of the material costs being so much less than others. 

Statement Piece

statement beadboard white ceilingView in gallery
Image from Virge Temme Architecture Inc.

Let’s face it, beadboard ceilings stand out. If you paint them certain colors, they’ll stand out even more. So if you want your ceilings to really make a statement, then paint your beadboard ceilings alternating colors.

If you want ceilings that blend in with their surroundings and are hardly ever looked at, then you may not want beadboard ceilings. Instead, stick to something simpler like drywall ceilings, which are plain. 

Hide Old Ceiling

A lot of people put beadboard ceilings over the top of old ceilings, especially popcorn ceilings. This is great because beadboard ceilings look nice and can be installed over almost any other type of ceiling.

They install best over flat ceilings but you can always build a frame with 2x4s for them to go over. If you are afraid your ceiling has asbestos, covering it up may not be a bad idea as long as you don’t disturb the asbestos. 


Beadboard ceilings are actually fairly customizable. Though most of the beadboard you see is probably just like the last beadboard ceiling you saw, if you are creative enough, you can make it look different.

For example, try framing parts of the beadboard ceiling in 4×4 or 8×8 sections. This is super easy to do and looks just as good as making the boards go all the way across the ceiling in one or two pieces.

When Not To Get Beadboard Ceilings

When Not To Get Beadboard CeilingsView in gallery
Image from flickr.

Beadboard ceilings are not for everyone. The main reason not to get them is that you don’t like them. But there are other reasons that they may not work for your home either. After all, no ceiling is perfect.

Drywall ceilings are very difficult to mud and popcorn ceilings may contain asbestos if they are older. But what is there to say for beadboard ceilings? Here are some of the best reasons not to get them.

Not DIY-Friendly 

It isn’t all that easy to get beadboard ceilings in yourself. You will for sure need a helping hand. If you can find someone with experience doing this sort of thing, you may be able to handle it together.

However, most people end up hiring professionals because this isn’t as easy as putting up boards. The strain on the neck alone without the right equipment can be reason enough to opt for hiring someone. 

Must Have A Good Roof 

Must Have A Good Roof View in gallery

Beadboard ceilings need to have a good roof above them in order to be installed and last. So if your roof has leaks or if your roof is sagging, then you should probably have your roof repaired before installing the new ceiling.

If you can’t afford a roof inspection right now then you may want to wait to install beadboard ceilings. Otherwise, you’ll be costing yourself more money in the end when your beadboard ceiling is ruined. 

Difficult To Clean

Beadboard ceilings are not easy to clean. The material itself isn’t more difficult to clean than any other material, however, there are a lot of cracks and creases that can be difficult to get to. So think about this.

You can use a damp cloth or a duster to clean the ceilings once or twice a month. But if you can’t do this yourself, you’ll have to find someone who can which isn’t always easy. Stick with something that doesn’t need to be cleaned if you cannot clean it. 

How To Install Beadboard Ceiling

How To Install Beadboard CeilingView in gallery
Image from ninahendrick

Installing a beadboard ceiling isn’t easy to do alone but it can be done. There are a few simple steps that will guide you through putting up your own beadboard ceilings without the help of a contractor. 

Step 1: Mark Ceilings

Mark the ceiling joists on the walls with a pencil or painter’s tape. This will make it much easier to install the beadboard ceilings. At this point, it’s a good idea to mark any area where the panels will meet.

If you have four by eight panels, then you want to mark every third joist, starting at one end. Because the panels will cover 48-inches and every joist should be 16-inches. Make sure they are 16 before marking.

Step 2: Cut Out Holes

If you are working with only one or two people then create a support brace to hold the panel up. You can build one out of two by fours that is either T or Y-shaped. This works out well and takes the pressure off of you.

Now, before you actually secure the panels, you will need to measure, mark, and cut out the holes for any fixtures you may encounter. So cut these out before you begin the next step as you want the panels to lay flat. 

Step 3: Secure The Panels

The best way to hold the panels into place other than the support bar is to add adhesive to the back of the panel and then push them into place. Liquid Nails is a good place to start but any wood glue will do. 

If you have a nail gun, then you can do this part quickly and efficiently. If not, you’ll have to hammer the two-inch nails in one by one. This can take a lot of time and it can be difficult to get them straight. 

Step 4:  Fill Gaps And Add Trim 

Use wood filler or spackling to fill any cracks that don’t meet. You will cover it up with trim but the wood filler is primarily to help weatherproof the ceiling. It can be painted over once it is dried and sanded. 

The way you do the trim is up to you. You can add trim only around the edge of the ceiling or you can add them to all the places where the panels meet. Go ahead and add trim anywhere you think looks good. 

Step 5: Paint!

You can stain real boards that you use for beadboard ceilings but if you get something that isn’t real wood then you’ll have to leave it be or paint it. You can use paint made for the material you used for the ceilings.

Any color works but if you want the standard then use white. Any shade of white will do too. Cream or ivory is a nice alternative to white that works exceptionally well for those who like off-white colors.