Our tray ceiling was boring and the drywall tape job was so bad. But I knew some molding and paneling could make this room amazing!
You know you’ve hit a home run with a DIY when it becomes the instant star of a room. This DIY Tray ceiling molding and paneling feature is definitely the star now! In fact, when my Mom first saw the update, she said she didn’t even notice we had a tray ceiling before. What?! Something like a tray ceiling should always be the eye-catcher in a room. But ours had some problems.
The drywall tape job had bubbled and cracked in quite a lot of spots. So, that needed to be fixed. And we made the mistake of painting the ceiling with the default ceiling paint color sold in the stores. It was so stark white and cold. It definitely should have been tinted before we painted it. But we lived with it like that for 5 years before I had the nerve, and time, to fix it. I was a little worried that this project would be hard.
But the hardest part was really settling on a design. After tons of Pinterest searching and pinning, I picked a design and the molding and paneling I’d use. The install work was relatively straight-forward. I’ve worked with v-groove panels and trim in our powder room makeover and also in adding a Mudroom to our Laundry Room. And I’ve installed crown molding in a few rooms, so I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into.
Honestly, the most challenging part is just the fact that you have to go up and down ladders over and over and over… And you are working over your head. Which can be tough! But just keep reminding yourself that it’ll look awesome and you’re getting a workout too. Yea! So, let’s get started. 🙂
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Materials needed for this DIY Tray Ceiling Molding & Paneling Feature
- Construction Adhesive (like this one) that works for drywall and wood projects
- Zinsser 123 Water-based Primer & latex paint of choice, I used Behr’s Polished Pearl
- DAP White Latex Caulk, the Paintable Type
- DAP Plastic Wood w/ Drydex
- Cabinet-Grade 4×8 Plywood Sheets, about .20 inches thick or 5mm
- Pine Lattice Moulding
- 3″ Base Board Molding, I used this one
- Circular Saw and a Cutting Guide (see photo below for example)
- Miter Saw for the 45-degree cuts on the base board molding and lattice
- Brad Nailer & Brad Nails
- I used 2 1/4″ Brad Nails to attach the plywood and base board to the studs in the ceiling, then 3/4″ for the lattice
- Caulking Gun
- Additional: 2 ladders, pencil, tape measure, spirit level, stud finder
Steps to Make this install this DIY Tray Ceiling Molding & Paneling Feature
PLEASE NOTE: I only used these plywood panels because I wanted to cover the textured ceiling for a finished look. If this part of you’re ceiling is already smooth, skip the plywood steps. You won’t need to do them to get the same look. Lucky you!
- Start by carefully measuring the length of the tray along the wall and ceiling. Also measure the space between the wall and ceiling. Making a diagram of the ceiling will help you plan how many sections you’ll need, visually check that the layout will look balanced, and easily track the measurements of each section for your cuts. Based on the length of my walls, I went with 4 sections on the long walls and 3 on the shorts. I was able to reduce cuts by sticking with the default 48″ width panels on the 6 center sections.
- Now, that you’ve double-checked your measurements and made a diagram, you can cut your panels. I used my Circular Saw and a cutting guide to cut each panel. I find it easier to cut all of the panels at once, so that I save time and only get covered in sawdust once. 🙂 Make sure the primed side of the panels will face out.
- Brush all of the sawdust off of the panels before carrying them inside.
- Use your stud finder to mark the location of the studs in the wall where you are attaching the panels. DIY TIP: I marked those studs on the crown molding and the ceiling so that I could see the marks after the panel was in place.
- Now you can apply the panels. Since I knew my crown molding was level, I used that as the base for each panel. As long as I had it perfectly pressed against that crown, it would be square. If you don’t have crown molding already, you’ll need to install that before the panels to get the same look I have.
- I used quite a bit of adhesive on each panel, as you can see. And also tons of brad nails. Those panels will never budge! Don’t worry about up to a 1″ ga between panels, the molding will cover that. Just make sure that the don’t overlap!!
- Once all of the panels are glued and nailed into place, use that wood filler on the nail holes. Caulk will shrink and isn’t sandable, so wood filler is best for this job.
- After all holes are filled and sanded smooth, I primed the panels. It may not be necessary, since the board is primed, but I felt like it was a good idea. Plus, with light paint on dark panels, I needed 3 coats of paint anyway. I primed my crown molding too. It was due for a new paint job.
- Next, I marked the studs in the ceiling so that I could attach the base board to the ceiling. Be sure to put those marks where you can still see them once the molding is up.
- Then I marked a straight line, with my spirit level, across the top of the paneling. This was my guide for the edge of the base molding along the panels. I used the already level crown molding as my reference point here. For my ceiling, I marked 38″ from the crown molding to the top of the panels across the boards, then connected those marks with my 4′ long spirit level. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of this, but this line was very close to the top end of the panels. I wanted the base board to sit on top of the edge of the panels to hide any uneven lines along the panels. Each panel was slightly longer or shorter at the top, due to natural cutting and measuring differences. BUT the bottoms were perfect since I pressed them up to the edge of the crown.
- Attach base board to the ceiling with nails at the studs. It’s so lightweight, I skipped the glue. Just be sure to nail it in at every stud. You’ll need to make 45-degree cuts here. Make sure everything lines up perfectly before nailing. You want those corners to look as perfect as possible. If you have to move off of that straight line you just marked (a little bit) to make that corner perfect, then do it. You’re eye will always notice a bad corner before a 1/4″ difference in height. Also, I bought 20′ long pieces of base board for this ceiling. That way I could use 1 single board for each of the 4 sides. If you can avoid using 2 pieces, it gives a nicer look and you don’t have to go through all of the work hiding the seam with caulk or wood filler.
- Now that all of the base board is attached, you can add the lattice. The measurements for each should be very close, but I checked the measurement at each spot to get the best fit possible. I nailed the lattice into place. You can use shorter nails here, if you used plywood panels. If you already had a smooth drywall ceiling, then you should skip the nails and apply the lattice with adhesive. Painter’s tape should help you hold it in place while it dries.
- For the 4 corners, I used 2 pieces of lattice butted up against each other. No need to calculate angles. I started by cutting the lattice piece about 4″ longer than I needed. Since, lattice is flexible I could hold up the lattice in the corner to mark the cut points. Just remember that you want the inside edges where the two lattices meet to make a line from exactly the corner of the new base molding on the ceiling and the corner of the crown molding at the bottom. I used my Circular saw for this cut.
- Now, on to the boring but kinda the most important part…caulking. Caulk along the top and bottom of the panel where it meets the molding. Caulk either side of each piece of lattice too. And fill the holes in the base board on the ceiling with wood filler. When those dry, sand them smooth. Getting the caulk and wood filler looking great is the key to a professional looking job. Remember, caulk can’t be sanded. So, you need to have it looking great before it dries.
- Once dry, paint with 2 or 3 coats of your latex and you’re ready to show off your hard work!
Looking for another home DIY that adds loads of style and function to a Laundry Room? See how I converted a few unused cabinets into a new Mudroom. With lots of extra shoe and coat storage.
Or, get the DIY Steps to add Board & Batten Molding to your walls.
Feeling inspired? Get out there and install your own DIY Tray Ceiling Molding and Paneling Feature. Follow the links above to get the things you’ll need. Have fun and let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.