How to Hang a Hardboard Ceiling

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Hardboard is a construction material consisting of wood particles that are compressed together tightly. It is similar to plywood, but the surface has a finished appearance, making it unnecessary to cover it. Working with hardboard is similar to working with plywood or traditional wood paneling and basic woodworking tools accomplish cutting and installation. When installing hardboard on the ceiling, secure it firmly to the joists to prevent sagging.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Chalk line tool
  • Hardboard
  • Crosscut saw with carbide cutting blade
  • 1-inch long annular ring shank nails
  • Hammer
  • Tarp (optional)
  • Wood putty (optional)
  • Putty knife (optional)
  • Fine-grit sandpaper (optional)
  • Primer (optional)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Long-handled paint roller (optional)

Move the hardboard panels into the installation room and lean them up against the wall with the backs facing outward toward the room. Leave the panels in this location for a minimum of 48 hours before installation to allow them to acclimate.

Move a ladder to one side of the room and climb up on it carrying a stud finder. Turn the device on and slide it over the ceiling until the light indicates the presence of a ceiling joist. Mark the location with a pencil. Locate all other joists across the ceiling. Most joists are spaced at 1-inch intervals.

Stretch a chalk line tool along the length of the ceiling at the location of each joist, with the help of an assistant. Snap the line against the ceiling to draw a line. Repeat the process at each additional joist mark to create a ceiling grid.

Raise the first hardboard panel up to the ceiling with the finished side facing down. Align it in the corner, ensuring that both sides end over a chalk line. If needed, trim the board down using a crosscut saw with a carbide cutting blade.

Ask your helper to hold it in place while you insert 1-inch annular ring shanked nails down the center of the panel over a joist location. Space each nail 8 inches apart. Insert additional nails along each remaining chalk line in the same manner.

Raise a second piece of hardboard up to the ceiling and position it directly next to the first piece. The edges should touch, but do not press them tightly together. Secure the second panel with more nails in the same manner as the first.

Continue installing additional hardboard panels across the ceiling in this manner, cutting them with the crosscut saw when needed.

Cover all nail heads with wood putty, if desired, to hide them. Spread a tarp over the floor and apply the putty with a putty knife and allow it to dry. Sand the dried putty with a fine-grit sandpaper and then prime and paint the hardboard using a long-handled paint roller.

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