How to Make an Open Wooden Ceiling


The exposed beam look is commonly seen in log cabin designs as well as in some older homes with vaulted ceilings. Before you decide to open up the ceiling to expose the rafters, it's vital to determine whether insulation has been blown directly on top of the ceiling drywall. If so, it's going to be messy. If you have a plaster or textured popcorn ceiling, call in a professional to help you remove it. Textured ceilings sometimes have asbestos and can be dangerous to remove. Plastered ceilings can be heavy and can cause injury for the inexperienced.

Things You'll Need

  • Dropcloths
  • Prybar
  • Hammer
  • Garbage bins
  • Hand sander
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Wood stain applicators or paintbrushes
  • Prepare the room by removing all the furniture and laying down dropcloths. Tape the cloths into place to keep them from moving around underneath you while you work.

  • Pry off the existing drywall with a prybar. Locate the first seam at the edge of the room. Insert the prybar into the seam and pry downward to loosen the panel. If it won't come free, hit the panel with a hammer to knock a hole in it. Continue knocking holes in it until you can pull the panel free.

  • Place the drywall into large garbage bins for disposal. You need an open space to work, and broken drywall creates a hazard in the room.

  • Remove any remaining nails or screws in the ceiling joists. Place these into a little bucket while you work to keep from dropping them on the floor.

  • Examine the exposed beams. If they're not aged badly and are still a color you like, you won't need to stain them and you can skip to sanding lightly and sealing the beams. Otherwise, you need to refinish the beams.

  • Sand the beams with a hand sander until bare wood is exposed on all the beams.

  • Stain the wood beams to the desired color. Wear safety glasses so you don't get stain in your eyes. Brush on a coat of stain with a paintbrush and let it dry for six hours. Lightly buff the surface with a fine-grit sanding block.

  • Seal the wood beams with a clear polyurethane. Brush at least one coat of polyurethane onto the beams. Let this dry for eight hours. If you prefer a higher gloss, sand lightly and apply a second coat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use scaffolding instead of a ladder to give yourself room to work.
  • If you don't know for certain whether the ceiling materials contain asbestos, have it tested before you can begin this project. If test results are positive, only a professional can remove the ceiling material.

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