How to Frame a Ceiling

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Things You'll Need

  • Ceiling Joists

  • Nails

  • Hammer

A ceiling is more than just a means of shelter, it can greatly enhance the beauty of your home. Framing a cathedral ceiling or vaulted ceilings add character and style. Check out the different ceiling options before you begin your project and find the ceiling design that brings out the creative you in your home.


Frame a Ceiling

Step 1

Frame your ceiling after all the walls are plumb, aligned, and secured. The ceiling's function is to tie together the outside walls of a building.

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Step 2

Space each ceiling joist 16 in. although 24 in. is acceptable. You will determine the size of your ceiling joist by the weight it carries and the span it covers from wall to wall.

Step 3

Rest one end of the ceiling joist on an outside wall. The other end will overlap an interior bearing partition at least 4 in. Use 16d nails to connect the walls together.


Step 4

Strengthen the tie between the outside walls by nailing the outside end of each ceiling joist to the end of the rafters and wall plates. Try to make sure the ceiling joists run in the same direction as the roof rafters.

Step 5

Cut the length of the ceiling joists before they are placed on the walls. As each joist is cut, hand it up to the builder who will lay each joist flat along the wall, close to where it will be nailed.

Step 6

Mark the place on the top of the walls where the joists will be fastened and nail them in place using 3 16d nails. Install the ceiling joists on one side of the building and then install them on the other.


When framing your ceiling, if the ceiling joists are not going in the same direction as the roof rafters, 2 by 4s are added running in the same direction as the rafters. Nail the 2 by 4s to the top of each ceiling joist with 2 16d nails. Space these boards 4 ft. apart and attach the ends to the ends of the rafters.


When framing a ceiling which will not be supporting a second, floor a header is not required. But in order to prevent twisting or bending of your ceiling joist, nail a 1 by 4, called a ribband, to the top of each joist with 2 8d nails. Secure the ends of each ribband to the outside building walls.