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What Is a Tongue-and-Groove Ceiling?

What Is a Tongue-and-Groove Ceiling?

In a home, it is typical for a ceiling to be made of drywall. However, with the help of a handy and knowledgeable contractor, you can have a beautiful hardwood tongue-and-groove ceiling in your home.

They are more expensive than the average ceiling, but for people who love aesthetics and hardwood, it is well worth it. But what is a tongue-and-groove ceiling?

A tongue-and-groove ceiling is a ceiling in which wooden planks are connected to each other, and each plank has a groove running along the length of the board that has tongue joints inside. When the wooden boards are connected, the tongue of one board slides into the groove of the other plank. Then, each interconnected ceiling plank is nailed to a joist.

While installing a brand-new ceiling can be difficult, tongue-and-groove ceilings are actually easy to install. DIY lovers can install these ceilings themselves, as long as they have the proper tools and enough strength to hold each board in place.

What Kind of Wood is Used for Tongue-and-Groove Ceilings?

When you go to the hardware store, there will be a variety of wood available. Each type of wood is technically interchangeable, but certain types of wood are better for floors, structural foundation, and ceilings.

When you are selecting wood for tongue-and-groove ceilings, there are a few that you can choose from.

Here are the woods that are best for tongue-and-groove ceilings and the benefits of each one:

Pine Wood
  • Spruce This is a lightweight and lightly colored wood. It is dense and resistant to cracking or breaking. Spruce is often used during the foundation building process.
  • Oak This type of wood is reliable and damage-proof. Termites dislike eating oak. The graining on the wood planks will be beautiful, and any stain applied to oak will soak into the wood, preventing a splotchy finish.
  • Cedar Cedar is an excellent building material in environments that change from day to day. Cedar is not known for shrinking or excessively warping, even when exposed to extreme temperatures. Regions that are humid or experience a lot of storms have homes built with cedar wood.
  • Pine Pine wood is not expensive, and it is extremely resistant to moisture damage and warping because of moisture. Pinewood isn’t a wood that rots even under damp conditions.
  • Poplar woodPopular wood is a popular word used to build furniture, as it has beautiful wood grain patterns.
  • White OakThe light color of the world will make the ceiling seem taller and the room feel lighter. It is relatively inexpensive and durable.
  • FirFor a softwood, this type of wood is extremely durable and does well when cut into strange or uneven shapes. Along with cedar, Douglas Fir wood is preferred when building homes.
  • HemlockHemlock does not shrink or warp with the changing of the seasons. It is also resistant to splintering. But be warned, if the hemlock wood is freshly cut, it may still have a strong smell, but the smell will dissipate as the planks dry.

Notes about Tongue-and-Groove Planks

If you lift a plank designed for tongue-and-groove ceilings, you will notice it is much lighter than a plank of wood designed for flooring.

Do not be surprised if you hear creaking and cracking as the weather changes suddenly. Natural wood shrinks in the winter time as less moisture in the air and expands in the summer as the sun heats the home.

Do You Need Drywall Behind a Tongue-and-Groove Ceiling?

If the home is an individual single-family home that does not have another home on top of it, then it is not a requirement to have drywall behind a tongue-and-groove ceiling.

However, contractors building multiple apartment units may find it is a good idea to put in a tongue-and-groove ceiling with drywall. The reason for drywall on top of a tongue-and-groove ceiling is it can dampen loud sounds coming from the room above.

An apartment or complex with a beautiful ceiling means very little if the residents below cannot get a good night’s sleep because there’s too much noise coming from the apartment above.

Tips for Installing a Tongue-and-Groove Ceiling

It’s important to measure and remeasure the exact shape and size of the board you would like for your tongue-and-groove ceiling. The materials required for tongue-and-groove ceilings are a bit more expensive than other types of hardwood.

You don’t want to purchase 40 planks of tongue-and-groove ceiling planks, take them back home and set them up to be installed only to realize that they are far too short! After measuring the area for your tongue-and-groove ceiling planks, have someone else measure it as well.

If a contractor is removing the ceiling, have them remove all the furniture in the room to make sure your home remains protected.

If you've never had your home check for termites, do it before installing a tongue-and-groove ceiling. Termites can burrow themselves in between any type of material if they really want to. 

You don’t want to install a brand-new beautiful tongue-and-groove ceiling only for it to be eaten away as the months pass by.

If you plan on painting or staining the wooden planks of your tongue groove ceiling, do it before installing the ceiling. It is far easier to make sure each individual plank is coated evenly and you won’t drip stain or paint all over your floor.

Conclusion to Tongue-and-Groove Ceilings

If you would like to raise the value of your home and improve the aesthetic, a tongue-and-groove ceiling is the way to go.

They are also relatively easy to install and you and your loved one can probably install an entire ceiling by yourself in just a week. The best types of wood to use for a tongue-and-groove ceiling are spruce, cedar, oak, pine, fir, and poplar.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.