Planking the Ceiling – Room 1

Friday night I was having three of my nieces and nephews over to sleep over. It had been far too long and everyone needed haircuts. Their mom brought us dinner, thankfully since I’d been in project mode and haven’t been grocery shopping in far too long. We ate around the stack of luan planks on the dining room table. The weather was nasty – cold, snowy, freezing rainy. Ick. I informed the kids that they’d be put to work on Saturday because at Aunt Reenie’s house, it isn’t all fun and games (I’m not sure they believe me). I considered trying to get a jump on things Friday evening, but it was too complicated considering needing places for people to sleep. So we did haircuts and played Settlers of Catan with much shenanigans. I sure love these goons.

Saturday morning, the kids were down shortly after 7. We ate breakfast and then got down to business. Geno was the official sander, sanding down the edges of the boards just enough to smooth them out and get rid of the splinters. Jane was my official spackler.  Once I removed the trim that was glued to the wall, there was a fair amount of spackling to do. Jane was very proud of her work and being able to help. Love that kid.

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Both Lucy and Geno took turns helping me hold the planking up once it was glued, so I could nail it up there with my awesome Ryobi nail gun. I love that thing. This project would have been miserable without it!

The kids and I got the room emptied (into the other bedroom), 6 of the planks sanded and up, the walls spackled, and lunch eaten (and they did some reading and relaxing) before they had to leave. I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing the job. Planking a ceiling solo is not ideal or quick. And every single muscle in my back and arms hurt by the end of the day.

By the end of Saturday (which came around 11 pm), I had finished the ceiling, caulked the perimenter, primed the whole ceiling and the walls, removed the window and door trim, had completely trashed the whole room and my body. Laying down my back shoulder muscles throbbed and twitched. My wrists throbbed. My arms throbbed. How old am I?? Then I realized I had basically worked non-stop from 9 am until 11 pm. 14 hours. Oh.

Sunday I went to Mass, groaning in pain whenever I moved my arms. Then brunch at my parent’s to celebrate my niece’s birthday. And then home again to try to get this thing closer to livable. It still feels a long way off. Amazingly, once I started painting another coat on the ceiling, the throbbing subsided. Guess the muscles just needed to be worked again.

My dear friend stopped in and we visited while measuring, cutting and installing the new door and window trim. I was able to re-use some of the window trim but replaced a lot of it because it wasn’t a consistent size and was in poor condition. The door trim I replaced entirely to make it farmhouse style trim. It looks awesome, if I do say so myself.

By 10 pm on Sunday, I’d put a third (and final) coat of paint on the ceiling, a coat of paint on the walls, primed and put one coat of trim paint on all the trim. I also started trimming out the weird stairway cut outs with a combination of old and new trim. Gotta make these weird little cubbies look a little less trashy. All at once, both of my batteries died making finishing the cubbies or doing anything else with the power tool set impossible. At 10 pm, that felt like a good thing. And I crashed hard.

A few helpful tips in case you want to try this at home (and to remind me when I do the other bedrooms):

– Dry fit all of your planks — especially if you’re doing it in a wonky old house where nothing is even. It is much easier to make adjustments before you put glue on the plank.

– Everyone on the interwebs says this but seriously, have help to plank the ceiling. Even my inexperienced, rather distracted help was better than the part I finished by myself simply because more hands makes this project infinitely better! No matter how handy you think you are, it is very difficult to hold a board, grab a nail gun, check the spacing, and nail it in place with only two hands.

– I read many different posts online about ceiling planking. Some people insisted the cheap luan I used was miserable and terrible. Some swear by the tongue and groove planking in this brand or that. I will say this: the luan planking was not perfect. But it was incredibly affordable and I really do love it. Totally worth the investment. Even in it’s imperfections, it fits the character of this little shack I call home and is a vast improvement over the ugly ceiling tiles.

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