Air Leaks With a Plank Ceiling

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Plank ceilings can be installed directly onto joists.
Plank ceilings can be installed directly onto joists.

Plank ceilings offer an attractive alternative to smooth, drywall ceilings or popcorn-textured ceilings. Plank ceilings use thin wood boards that frequently have tongue and groove settings at the edges for easy installation. Plank ceilings on top floors may allow air leaks from uninsulated attic areas overhead. If this is the case, additional insulation should be installed to prevent the unwanted airflow.

  1. About Plank Ceilings

    • Plank ceilings give rooms a more finished look from floor to ceiling. They may be made of real wood, laminate or mineral fiber materials. Plank ceiling styles can fit either contemporary or traditional styles of decor with finishes that are available in a range of colors. Use plain white planks for a clean, Scandinavian decor or salty, coastal feel. Rich wood tones in a variety of colors can provide a more traditional look, either with a rustic atmosphere or a more formal, highly-finished appeal.

    Plank Ceiling Installation

    • Plank ceilings can be installed by most do-it-yourselfers. Working upward may require more manual assistance than installing wood floors or paneling. Planks can be installed onto existing joists, over drywall or plaster or to wood furring strips attached to the ceiling. Ceiling areas with moisture or air leaks should be repaired before installing the planks. Locate any moisture problems and repair the plumbing in overhead areas if necessary. Rooms with high humidity, such as bathrooms, require two layers of furring strips laid in a crisscross pattern to allow for air circulation under the planks. The planks should be unpacked 24 hours prior to installation to allow the material to acclimate to room conditions.

    Air Leak Problems With Plank Ceilings

    • Upper-floor bedrooms or bathrooms may be drafty due to air leaks from cold attic areas above. This air can enter rooms through crevices between the ceiling planks. Installing additional attic insulation, in batt, roll or loose-fill form, can help prevent this problem. Insulation can also be added under ceiling planks.

    Insulating Plank Ceilings

    • Loose-fill or rolled insulation should not come in direct contact with the back of the ceiling planking. If necessary, chicken wire or other netting material can be installed to hold the loose-fill material above the ceiling planks. Foam board insulation is a convenient way to insulate ceiling areas beneath the planks. It can easily be attached in between furring strips. Ensure that there is a layer of air between the insulation and the planking to allow for airflow. This will avoid condensation problems from moist air trapped in insulation materials.

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