How to Install a Wood Plank Ceiling (Woodhaven by Armstrong)

installed white shiplap wood plank ceiling

We renovated our entire basement and one of the most significant steps was installing a wood plank ceiling. It totally transformed the room and we could not be more pleased with the result.

Read How to Install a Grid Ceiling prior to reading this post.

Prior to installing the wood planks, the exposed HVAC and electrical wires were exposed. Several years ago, we painted this black. However, we wanted to give this room a more finished look. We are so pleased with the result. Below is a BEFORE picture.

Materials Needed for Installing Wood Plank Ceiling:

    • Wood Planks (we used “painted white” Woodhaven by Armstrong) from Lowe’s. This has a smooth white surface.

    • Clips that come in the box with the wood planks.

    • Clips must be purchased in addition to the wood planks.

    • Ladder(s) or stepstools depending on the height of your ceiling
    • Drill and bits
    • Screws
    • Tape measure
    • Miter saw
    • Jigsaw and blades
    • Optional, but helpful: Table saw (could use a jigsaw)

Let the wood acclimate to the room/space:

Because wood expands and contracts based on the temperature, it is essential to let the wood acclimate to the temperature of the room prior to installing the wood plank ceiling. Open each box of wood 2-4 days prior to use in the room/area you plan on installing the wood planks. (Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions on acclimating the wood.) Have the thermostat set the typical temperature for this room/space.

We actually removed the wood planks from each box and stacked it in the adjacent hallway. This enabled the wood to acclimate without being in our way as we worked.

Determine which side of the room you will start:

We opted to start at the outside wall with our wood planks running the length of the room.

Determine how/where you want the joints prior to installing your wood plank ceiling:

Do you want them to be randomly staggered or in a consistent pattern? We opted for a consistent (brick pattern) pattern. In other words, we did the math and determined the length of the wood (our room is about 23” long). Our first board would then be cut and then the next two would be long (full) pieces and then the fourth board would be cut. Our joints were consistent every other row and alternated every other row.

Install Metal Clips on the vertical grids:

You literally just snap the clips on the vertical grids parallel to the wood planks.  Make sure you snap these clips in the right direction (all the same way) so you can slide and insert the clips into the groove of each piece of wood.

Install the first row:

Cut the proper length for your first board (after you have determined your joint pattern). Place the wood plank so that it rests in the wall angle, but LEAVE A SMALL SPACE, approximately 1/8” to allow for expansion. Also make sure the ends of each piece have space, approximately 1/8”. For the first row, you will need to add screws to hold the shiplap in place against the wall. See the picture below. Also, you will need to slide each clip into the groove to hold it in place.

Depending on the size of your ceiling, the next piece will mostly be a full piece. Connect the tongue of the second piece in the groove of the first piece (end-to-end). Slide each clip into the groove to hold it in place. Repeat with the next full piece. When you get to the final piece, cut the appropriate length and insert the same as the others.

After you finish the first row, take a moment to inspect your work to ensure there is a small space where the shiplap is parallel to the wall and at the end of the row. This will allow for some expansion of the wood.

Install the second row:

Because we used a brick pattern (our joints lined up every other row), we cut the length of the first piece of the second row. When installing this first piece of the second row, insert the tongue in the groove of the first piece in the first row. Slide each clip into the groove to hold it in place. Repeat with the next full piece.

When you install the second piece in the second row, slide the tongue into the groove at the end of the first piece of the second row. Then insert the tongue into the groove the wood plank on the first row. Slide each clip into the groove to hold it in place. Repeat with the next piece. You might have to cut the final piece.

Periodically stop and inspect your work. Make sure the joints (end-to-end and side-to-side) fit snug. Also, make sure there is a small space around the perimeter of the room (no wood is actually touching the wall).

Install the third and continuous rows:

Now that you have established your pattern (where your joints will be), you just carry on throughout the room.

Use the other clips (with screws) as needed:

We had two rows in which we had to use the clips that came with the wood planks. This is because the other clips were on one of the horizontal grids. In other words, it would not slide tightly into place. This may be confusing, but you will know when then happens. Don’t panic, just use the other clips that actually come with the wood planks.

You will need to drill a pilot hole in the grid, then screw the clip in place and then install this row of shiplap. Don’t screw so tight that this row of wood is tighter (slightly higher than the other rows). This slightly raised row will be obvious when you install your crown molding.

Cut holes for lights or HVAC vents:

NOTE: The lights and other above the ceiling work should be completed PRIOR to installing the shiplap ceiling. You cannot easily access this area (above the ceiling) after the wood planks are installed.

First, put the wood planks in place (may have to install two or more rows) and trace the opening on the backside of the wood planks. Next, remove the wood planks and cut the opening using a jigsaw, then reinstall the piece(s).

Notice two rows of wood had to be cut for this vent.

When you cut the wood planks, be VERY careful that the board does not break prior to installing it.

Notice that two rows (three pieces) had to be cut for this LED canned light. 

Below shows Neal installing the canned light after we cut the wood planks.

Install in Odd Ceiling Areas:

Our room was not a perfect rectangle. Hence, we have two areas that were odd dimensions. Luckily, we were able to use a few scraps and did not have any joints.

The Final Row(s):

When you get the final row, you will most likely have to “rip” the pieces in to properly fit. We use a table saw to rip the long pieces and a jigsaw to cut angles (if a piece wrapped around a corner).

Below is a picture of our progress about halfway.

Check out the final result!

And now time to think about flooring ? . . .

One more reminder of how it looked before . . .

And the same view from the hallway.

To watch a timelapse video click the picture below.

Don’t forget to Pin this for future reference.

Pinterest Pin How to install shiplap wood plank ceiling

Stay tuned for our next posts on how to install canned lights and crown molding!

Let us know if you have questions or what you think about how to install a wood plank ceiling by posting below.


  1. Jackie Joiner on 02/28/2020 at 10:18 AM

    This ceiling looks AMAZING!! I love it! What a difference between the before and after pictures. You and Neal continue to amaze me!

    • Suzanne on 02/28/2020 at 12:07 PM


      Thank you so much for your kind words. We LOVE doing projects!


  2. Jennifer on 03/27/2020 at 7:53 AM

    I cannot get over the difference this makes. It looks fantastic!

    • Suzanne on 03/27/2020 at 8:28 AM

      Thank you so much! We are really pleased with the result.
      Thanks for reading our blog.

  3. Candice on 12/08/2020 at 9:32 PM

    Thanks for the detailed post. Would this be somewhat easy to remove to access ducts or wiring above?
    We’re renovating our basement and hoping to avoid drywall and drop ceiling options.

    • Suzanne on 12/08/2020 at 9:49 PM

      Hey Candice,

      Great question! These planks would be easier to remove as compared to drywall. It would be more challenging if you have crown moulding as we do. You would have to remove the crown moulding, which means removing caulk around the crown moulding (and then maybe touch up paint when you reinstall the crown moulding). You would also have to remove all the planks until you get to the section of the ceiling you need to access. You would need to keep the planks stacked or number them to reinstall in the same place. Again, it is much easier than having to rip out drywall and patch it, but it would require some work.

      We are actually thinking about removing a section to access a gas valve and then will reinstall the section we removed.

      I hope this helps!


  4. Marlena Amos on 09/14/2021 at 6:07 AM

    I love this! I currently have a drop ceiling and desperately want to replace it with something that looks more finished. The grid that you have that has the clips attached is that a drop ceiling grid? I’m wondering if I removed my tiles would I just be able to add those clips and then place the wood.

    • Suzanne on 09/14/2021 at 10:14 AM

      I am so glad you found this post/our blog. We ABSOLUTELY LOVE how this transformed our basement living room!

      You are actually a step ahead of where we were because you have a drop ceiling (grid) already in place! We had to add the grid before we could add the white shiplap. So YES, you just need the clips (notice two types of clips). Go for it and let me know how it goes.

      Happy Updating!

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