Look up!

One of our first interior projects in the garage was tackling our dormer ceilings. I had my heart set on some kind of ship lap treatment like this for the ceiling, but we weren’t quite sure how to go about it. Like how/where would we stop it. With the loft open to the shop side there was no good way.  One day we were driving to menards and I ran across this photo while scrolling through pinterest. Perfect! Why couldn’t we just put the paneling in the dormer ceilings?!

That solved one problem. The second issue was that Jerm wasn’t a fan of just ripping the ceiling “planks” out of thin plywood like many tutorials suggested. Since we were doing the paneling in lieu of drywall, he didn’t want to lose that fire barrier.

We wandered over to the ceiling tiles and decorative ceiling treatments in menards and found these Armstrong Ceiling Planks that fit what we wanted. They were reasonably priced ($1.49 per square foot), had enough texture to add interest but not too much, were tongue and groove (read easy to install), and fire resistant!


Sold! They were special order, but came within a week. We were also able to take advantage of one of the 11% rebates that menards runs every so often. The planks are made of a ceiling tile material so they are lightweight and can be cut with a razor blade. For their weight, they are remarkably sturdy though.

The way we installed them was kind of unconventional but worked perfectly. Since you can never have too much insulation, we started by covering the dormer ceiling with a full layer of 1-1/2″ pink foam insulation. Besides the added R-7.5, it gave us a big smooth surface to fasten to, and allowed us to install the planks without having to only screw into studs. A more traditional installation requires furring strips or adhesive.

To secure the foam to the studs, we used screws and large washers. The washers kept the screws from going all the way through the foam by increasing the screw head’s surface area.

Now it was time to start attaching the planks. We thought the first row was going to require some additional fastening (since there was nothing to support the bottom), but once we got it up we found it actually supported itself pretty well.  With the addition of a bead of caulk across the bottom edge later, all was good. We simply held it in place and put a few screws through the tongue on each plank into the foam. Once we finished one row it was easy enough to start the next. Just interlock the tongue into the groove and support with more screws into the foam —  staggering the seams like you would with flooring.




Once we had finished installing all of the planks, we needed to trim out the unfinished corners and the ridges with something. We could have gone with white boards to blend in, but decided we liked the look and contrast of cedar. It just felt garage-y to us. Whatever that means..

IMG_8609Cutting the complex angles on these four boards nearly took us all night, but I LOVE the way it turned out.

IMG_8830_edited-1IMG_8821_edited-1Cedar sills completed the window trim and tied everything together. I’m planning on a built-in style “daybed” in the rear dormer and my desk area in the front dormer.

Next up is flooring! We have some reclaimed maple that we are refinishing, and it has been a long process so far.


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