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Vaulted Wood Ceiling (from cedar fence pickets)

In the process of building our house, Adam and I messed up. We knew that we only wanted the builder to build the “shell” of the house and leave the rest for us to DIY, but what we didn’t realize (no one along the way did… I’m guessing people don’t finance half-built houses very often) is that in order to close on a construction loan, the house has to be 100% finished. This led to a giant, stressful, drawn-out mess when we tried to convert the construction loan to a mortgage. Our solution was to try and check all the boxes for a “finished” house as fast and for as little money as possible.

We added cheap mop sinks where one day there will be nice vanities, painted plywood subflooring (evidently paint counts as flooring), stapled dropcloths to our unfinished bedroom ceiling, and a whole slew of other things I’m not going to list.  The inspectors rolled their eyes at our “finish outs” every time they came out to try and close, but they had to check the boxes.

Anyway, the point of this story is that for over two years there has been a dropcloth ceiling in our bedroom.

vaulted bedroom ceiling with exposed beams - before wood

A few months ago Adam and I decided enough was enough, and we went and bought some cheap cedar fence pickets and started the process of adding a wood ceiling.

DIY rustic wood cedar plank ceiling

This project is not an expensive one (all the wood was only $120), but it is definitely tedious and slow-going. After two days “we” (aka, mostly Adam but a little bit of me) had finished about a quarter of it… and then it sat like that for about four more months.

How to wood plank a ceiling

Right now you are either nodding your head in agreement because your projects also get forgotten and drug out, or you are thinking we are completely ridiculous.

falling apart ceiling

Looking at that torn apart ceiling for months on end WAS ridiculous though, so we decided to hire someone to finish the ceiling in a timely manner.

(Sidenote – during this period of the spray foam being exposed, our 18-month-old son would toddle into our room, point up at the ceiling, and say something we couldn’t understand. Finally, we figured out he was saying “cheese”. Hilarious.) 

adding a wood ceiling over spray foam insulaton

It took two men two full days to finish the rest the remaining 3/4 of the ceiling and skin the beams, which Adam and I agreed was $400 well spent.

And now, it’s finished! Isn’t it pretty?!

cedar plank wood ceiling

vaulted bedroom wood ceiling

I can’t even tell you how nice it is to wake up and see a finished wood ceiling and not a giant project. Every morning I open my eyes, smile at the ceiling, and then start the morning hustle in a good mood. Hopefully, that doesn’t wear off anytime soon, because mornings aren’t my favorite…but they’ve been less crappy recently. I can’t help but think that the ceiling has something to do with it.

fence picket ceiling

There are still some things left to do before I can check it off the list though, here they are –

  • add a ceiling fan
  • paint the beams white
  • figure out how to trim (caulk? grout?) the edge against the stone wall
  • Decide if I’m going to stain it or not

ceiling made from wooden cedar fence pickets

Alright, let’s talk about that last bullet point a little.

The ceiling is beautiful, but it’s not exactly what I had imagined. It’s close, but it is much newer and fresher looking than I had planned. I was hoping it would look exactly like the ceiling in the kitchen and dining room, because the color and variation of that ceiling is absolute perfection.

wood ceiling on a budget

The wood we bought for the bedroom is from the same company, same description (cull cedar fence pickets) as we used for the kitchen and dining room. I guess this batch just hadn’t been left out in the elements quite as long and never got that good, time-worn color.

cheap wood ceiling

So I’m thinking about staining the ceiling to feel a little more rustic. Nothing too dark or dramatic, just something that will give it a little age. As you can see, the ceiling and the windows headers don’t quite look like they belong in the same room. One looks like it belongs in an old farmhouse, the other looks like it should be in a beach house (at least to me).

wood ceiling and stone walls

Although, I’ve been doing Instastories for the last few months, showing what goes on behind the scenes and between blog posts (if you’re not following on Instagram, you are missing out! Click here to follow!) and I took a poll on who thought I should stain it and who thought I should leave it, and 75% of you think I should leave it alone. So that’s encouraging, because staining the ceiling doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun…but I’m still undecided. I’ll write an update post when the rest of the ceiling to-do list is finished (or purposefully not finished).

Yay for progress!


You may also like –

Reclaimed Wood Kitchen Ceiling

Plans for the Master Bedroom

DIY Pantry Reveal (it’s so good!)

All About Our Interior Limestone 


fence picket ceiling

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  1. Has anyone suggested doing something like putting linseed oil on it? It gives it a slightly darker color but soaks in so that it’s not shiny. It’s also easy to do with a roller and it helps protect it.

  2. Oh my goodness, Ashley…it looks SO good. I can’t decide if you should stain it or not. It’s so pretty as it is now but a darker and richer color would look equally as fabulous.

  3. I’ve used linseed oil and I don’t like how orangey-yellow it makes things. (I’m the type that reaches for water based poly not oil based for that reason.)

    On another note, cheese. That is so, so hilarious! Love it!

  4. If you have some leftover scraps, try the aged wood accelerators on the market. I don’t know how they will react with cedar but may be worth a try. The only downside is that they are very thin and painting them overhead would be messy. Also they may turn the wood more grey than you want.

  5. For what it’s worth, we have a wood ceiling in our master bedroom, and even though it’s inside the house, it still “weathers” to an extent. The heat and/or a/c coming off and on, windows and doors open or not, etc. will all contribute to it changing color over time. It looks great, by the way!

  6. I think your ceiling looks great as is, but if you ever want to age it, you can use a vinegar and steel wool solution. Pinterest has directions. I used it on a fence for boards that had to be replaced, and it was amazing how well it worked. It would be a huge job for you, though (as if you weren’t used to those by now!) Anyhoo, I would try it on a scrap piece first.

  7. It looks beautiful! White beams sound pristine and would give a wide open feel, but might make the room seem even more beachy. Maybe stain the beams a dark color and leave the ceiling as is? While I prefer matching wood tones, mixing tones adds texture and warmth.

  8. Won’t it turn orange if you don’t stain it? I’d like to know where you got such cheap wood, we need more pockets to finish our fence!

    1. I think the opposite will happen and it will turn greyer/browner over time (very slowly, since it’s inside). The wood is from a fence company here in San Antonio (Pecos Fence), and we bought the cull pickets that they sell for cheaper than normal.

  9. Like another viewer addressed I wondered about building permits as well, I want my child to build a tiny home for their own benefit of growing up but am nervous about codes ,so this will be our second process first well build the plan.Anywho great job! BOYSCOUTS are great I have an awesome kid who loves them as they teach out kids wonderful skills and great inituitive.

  10. How did that only cost 120$ ? I’m building a cedar fence and the cheapest Western red cedar is 2.79 per board. You got a good deal! Nice work

  11. A quick cheap and easy way to age your ceriling is to take plain vinegar ( CHEAP IS GOOD) add it to a bucket or glass jar and snip up a few steel wool ( oooo grade ) . Wait a good eight hours and brush this mixture onto your test piece of picket . Within a few hours it will start to turn a faded gray weathered look…… IF u age the mixture longer it will really darken your wood almost a dark gray in spots…..

    Try it simple and easy …..

  12. Wow, I love it! How beautiful. I would vote for getting it to match the windows a little more, but then again, it will age on its own and it is a big job… Whatever you do, it will be amazing!

  13. Where did you get your cedar planks? We purchased some planks from Menards however there is not as much variance in color which is what we are looking for.

  14. How did you get 2 guys to work 2 days for $400. Cheap labor around here is 30-40/ he? Skilled 75 and up

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