Hooked on a Ceiling

Early in the week, a new insulating crew came to spray-foam Bob’s dormer roof, now that it had solid new sheathing. They did the job cleanly and allowed us to proceed to our next step: installing ceiling boards.

First we had to stain them. Hans and I took care of all the remaining tongue-and-groove boards with a painting pad and the same white pickling stain we used in the living room. We let them dry in the sun, then stashed them under the barn until go time.

In the barn, Hans whitewashes a ceiling board.

In the barn, Hans whitewashes a ceiling board.

The ceiling boards were 14 feet long uncut, and we tried to use as much of that length as possible. We came mighty close thanks to the rafters’ 2-foot spacing. (The master bedroom plus stairwell is 18 feet wide, but we needed to break on a rafter.) At the same time, Hans tried to mix up the joint locations, using the scraps from shorter cuts as starters for subsequent rows. It was necessary to line up the adjacent tongues at each joint so the next row would span properly.

Essential tools were a hammer to tap each board into the previous tongue, a chisel to use as a lever on stubborn boards, and a finish nail gun to secure the work to the rafters. I also used a jigsaw to cut out circular holes for the can lighting fixtures.

Hans uses a fine tool to cut a recess for the last row of ceiling boards.

Hans uses a fine tool to cut a recess for the last row of ceiling boards.

The last row is always the hardest. We had to close the gap with an angular ridge beam and a bunch of steel joist hangers, and the gap was a non-uniform width thanks to the sag of the ridge beam. I measured the width at each end and ripped the boards freehand (the table saw’s guide does no good when your width varies) to achieve the right taper. Then Mark hollowed out the back of the boards to accommodate all our obstacles without revealing anything from below. Finally, we picked our nail locations carefully to avoid all the joist hangers. We came mighty close to running out of ceiling boards (in part because I made some mistakes and ruined a couple) but we did finish the job.

The ceiling’s completion allowed Mark to fill the gap between the bathroom and the hall. He sliced some more salvaged barnboards to match the ceiling angle and installed them vertically atop the bathroom door header. Lookin’ sharp!

Mark admires his handiwork: a closed-up bathroom wall under a completed ceiling.

Mark admires his handiwork: a closed-up bathroom wall under a completed ceiling.

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