Month: January 2015

Kitchen | Tongue & Groove Ceiling

We’ve always loved a tongue & groove ceiling and thought it was awesome that our new home had one in the kitchen. Of course there was a catch – the wood ceiling had a DARK stain and a super SHINY finish. Since the kitchen already needed a lot of DIY updating we figured it was just one more project for us to tackle.


The kitchen is 22 feet long x 14 feet wide x 10 feet tall so we had a fairly large and tall ceiling to work with. Can you say intimidating? We had done a bunch of research on how to prep and paint the rest of the wood trim, doors and cabinetry in the home so we decided to go the same route on the ceiling. Because of all the dust that would be accumulated during the sanding process we decided that the ceiling should be the very first project in the house and from there we could work our way down to finish the rest of the kitchen.

Before we could start any real work we had to remove the rooster border that was put up by the previous owners. I read that it would be helpful to get a wallpaper scorer to score the border but our local Home Depot didn’t have any in stock. We went the MacGyver route and used a plastic butter knife instead. Working in small sections we scored an X pattern into the paper and then soaked it with a mixture of very warm water and fabric softener. Scoring gets the solution underneath the paper where the adhesive lies so it’s definitely worth the extra effort. After letting things soak for a few minutes we got to scraping. It took some time and a lot of elbow grease but it worked and by the end of the afternoon the roosters were gone and the kitchen smelled like a fresh load of laundry.

Before sanding J and his Dad sealed off the kitchen Dexter style and covered all of the cabinetry, appliances, counters and vents with plastic that they picked up at Home Depot. They also put down Floorshell Paper to protect the hardwood floors and removed all of the window shutters and light fixtures.



J bought a small scaffolding at Home Depot which ended up being a huge time saver. It helped him and his Dad reach the ceiling easily which enabled them to work in larger sections than if they were standing on a ladder.

Based on our research the guys only had to sand the ceiling enough to scuff the surface and remove the shiny finish so that our primer would adhere well. They used a palm sander followed by a sanding block for those tough to reach spots in between the grooves. Eye protection and masks were a must for this project.


In 2.5 days the guys were able to sand the entire ceiling as well as the crown molding, window casings and the bases of the kitchen cabinets. When they were finished they cleaned up as much dust as they could from the plastic and floors with a broom and shop-vac. There was A LOT of dust. It’s always a good idea to take breaks to clean up along the way.

The ceiling was cleaned with Krud Kutter Degreaser followed by Krud Kutter Gloss Off. Using both the degreaser and gloss off may have been overkill but the gloss off didn’t have the best reviews for being an actual deglosser and we figured a little extra cleaning couldn’t hurt. We’ve been using the same process with continued success on all of the woodwork in the house.

Here’s the ceiling and crown after sanding, degreasing and deglossing.


At this point the ceiling and crown molding were finally ready for some primer. We invested in a Graco Magnum LTS 15 Electric Airless Sprayer knowing that it would come in handy during some of our projects. J knew that it would take some time to learn how to get the spraying technique right and since our bedroom walls needed to be primed as well he practiced spraying some primer in there.

When J felt confident with the machine he suited up into his coveralls, climbed onto the scaffolding and began spraying the primer onto the kitchen ceiling. We used Kilz Premium No Voc Primer. We knew we’d be using tons of primer throughout the house so we purchased a 5 gallon tub. Helpful hint: If you’re buying a tub that size ask the paint department to mix it for you before you leave the store – if you don’t it could be really hard to stir when you get home. We added 6 oz of Floetrol to every gallon of primer when using the sprayer. Spraying is definitely a time saver but we did use more primer due to overspray. It took two days and four coats of primer for the ceiling to be ready for paint.



While working on the ceiling the rest of the woodwork in the kitchen and the cabinetry bases were also prepped for primer so the guys were able to knock that project out as well. During big projects it’s a good idea to have other things in motion so you aren’t sitting around waiting while things dry.

After priming comes one of my favorite steps – caulking.  I’m sure I’ll repeat this every time I write about caulk but it’s not a step to be skipped EVER. It’s another time consuming task but it makes all the difference in the world. By this point everything in the kitchen was primed so J spent an entire afternoon caulking everything from the crown molding and trim to the base cabinets using DAP Paintable Caulk. It’s best to wait until you’re done with priming to start caulking because at that point you’ll be able to see all of the gaps that you didn’t see before you started. This is why caulking is SO important – it gives you that seamless & professional look that really finishes things off before you paint.

J rolled on 2 coats of Benjamin Moore’s Natura in the color Simply White/Flat Finish. The Benjamin Moore Natura paint is expensive so we decided not to use the sprayer to save some money & paint. We also used Benjamin Moore’s Natura in the color Simply White/Semi Gloss for the crown molding and for the trim in the rest of the house.

This wood beam separates our kitchen and family room. All of the gaps along the beam were filled in with caulk before painting for a seamless look.


This is an inside corner after caulking and painting. Caulk was applied to the top and bottom of the crown as well as the interior joint. You can also see the difference between the flat finish on the ceiling and the semi gloss that we choose for the trim. The door trim on the bottom right was still in the priming phase when this picture was taken.


As the days went on more things started coming together in the kitchen. Once the ceiling was dry we replaced all of the original kitchen light fixtures. The original ceiling vent was gray so that was replaced as well. The kitchen walls were painted a few days later, all of the trim got their final coats of paint and the kitchen cabinets were almost complete.

Here’s my J on closing day and a month later still hard at work in the kitchen. We still have a lot more to finish but you can already see that a huge transformation has taken place in the space. I can’t believe it’s the same kitchen!


Here’s one last shot of the ceiling:


We’re so glad that our first big project in the new house was a success and we can’t wait to finish the rest of our kitchen!