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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beadboard for Your Porch Ceiling

I've replaced a couple porch ceilings on older homes and I love the look of beadboard. Often, I've seen people just throw some normal plywood up there, but beadboard is a great touch that is fairly simple to install and keeps the older look of the home.

The porch in this picture was actually not original to the house. The homeowner had the roofing contractor add them for weather protection and to improve the curb appeal of the home that was basically a small box with little character.

I was commissioned to finish the trim on the porches and wanted the beadboard look without the expense of purchasing actual beadboards. To do this, I like to use the plywood beadboard that is sold at Home Depot and other home centers. I much prefer the type that is real wood as opposed to the thin paneling that they also have.

The wood variety is stainable and much easier to work with. In addition to this, the edge is designed with a lip so that the peices overlap. This hides the seams as long as you don't have any butt joints to deal with.

The plywood beadboard will cost you under $20 a sheet, a little more than the cost of the paneling variety, but I think it's totally worth it. The cheap stuff tends to look cheap when you're done in my opinion and it's nearly impossible to hide the seams without covering them with trim.

This is also a great product for wainscoating in a bathroom or sunroom.



  1. My sister and I did a true bead board ceiling in my sunroom, in Illinois. It took 40 hours to do about a 125 sqft room, but the results were great! It really 'makes' the room!

  2. Our porch swing which was screwed into the ceiling collapsed and took a length of beadboard with it. Am I safe simply to nail it back up or should I glue it?

  3. Rich, Thanks for the question! First, you want to make sure that a porch swing is attached to rafters or ceiling joists that will support the weight. The beadboard shouldn't carry this kind of weight and can just be attached with finish nails. You could apply glue at the point where one broke to seal the joint together well, but the nails will secure it in place.


  4. Hi- I am preparing to beadboard all ceilings in my c.1890 mansard, top floor condo. The way that it will run along the ceilings, will leave me to deal with the seam issue- SO- is there anything odd if I throw up a type of coffered look to hide those seams? Not as high profile, as my ceilings are not high enough for a full coffered look, but maybe some very low profile 1" x 3" pine painted to match the ceiling?
    Looking for suggestions on this. Given the size of the room, a patterned grid would not work, it would be more like a simple cross going both ways. Does this make sense?! TO add more visual, there are ceiling fans centered in every room.

    Thank you

  5. Kristen, Thanks for the question.

    If you are using the beadboard plywood it is designed so that there's a lip on the side so that these seams overlap and won't show. The main concern will be where the ends of the pieces come together (called butt joints).

    It would be fine to use a small piece of trim on this joint, though I might opt for something less bulky than a 1x3. Look at the trim section at your local home store. For example, Home Depot carries a mullion trim that's 3/8" x 1 3/8" and has a nice decorative profile to it. This might be more appropriate.

    If you were using real beadboard, which are individual boards that fit together with tongue-n-groove joints, then you can treat it like a hardwood floor and just stagger the joints. This would likely be the most historical approach to a beadboard ceiling. However, the 4x8 beadboard sheets are likely half to a third of the cost, not to mention the saved labor to install them.

    Hope this helps!