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Should You Use Beadboard Ceiling?

May 31, 2020 by Barbara Zito

Now that ceilings are getting the same treatment as accent walls, beadboard is being hailed as a refreshing alternative to a plain coat of ceiling white. Depending on how handy you are with a nail gun, a beadboard ceiling could be a suitable DIY project for your home.

What is beadboard?

Beadboard is a type of narrow paneling -- usually white, though many types can be painted -- that can be used as wainscoting on walls and even as a treatment for ceilings. The name comes from the raised, rounded ridge or "bead" in between each panel -- look at the edge of a plank of beadboard and you'll see it. Older versions of beadboard used to be installed panel by panel, but today it comes in tongue-and-groove sheets that make it easier to cover a wall quickly.

The pros and cons of a beadboard ceiling

So is beadboard ceiling a good call, or is it the popcorn ceiling of the 21st century? Before you haul out the ladder, let's weigh the pros and cons.

The pros

  • The price is a steal. When compared to other ceiling treatments like coffered ceilings, beadboard is a bargain (around $1.50 a square foot). But if you're comparing its cost to a gallon of paint, you'll be disappointed. However, if you're considering a ceiling upgrade in the first place, chances are you're in the market for something better than just a fresh coat of paint. In that case, beadboard still comes out as a win for your budget.
  • It can cover up a popcorn ceiling easily. Want to make that outdated popcorn ceiling disappear fast? Install beadboard. Yes there are ways to remove popcorn ceilings for good, but beadboard does the trick without the mess.
  • It's easy to install with some basic carpentry skills. While traditional wood beadboard projects are best left to the pros, there are DIY kits that you can install yourself. You will need basic carpentry skills like measuring and cutting, and then there is a ladder to contend with. If any of this gives you pause, hire a pro.
  • You can quickly transform the look of a room. Did you move to a new house? Nope, that's just your new beadboard ceiling. That's how much of a remarkable difference beadboard can make in a room.

The cons

  • If there's a leak, you might be in trouble. To be fair, you'll be in a bit of a pickle if there's water damage on any ceiling. But instead of patching up a small spot on a regular ceiling, you'll likely need to replace an entire board with a beadboard ceiling.
  • It's not a subtle option. There's a reason most ceilings are white -- they're not usually the focal point of the room. This isn't an issue if you are considering upgrading your ceiling, of course. Just know that it's not something you'll easily ignore, so make sure you choose the right style of beadboard and make sure it's installed well.
  • It's a pain to take down. No one likes having to repaint over a misguided color choice. But it's even worse with beadboard remorse. While it's not as terrible as peeling off wallpaper, expect that the dismantling of a beadboard ceiling will be a chore. Plus, you'll have to cover up all those nail holes before you repaint if you decide to go back to a plain ceiling. To avoid all of this, make sure you're ready for your ceiling to turn heads.

The bottom line

If you want to transform the look of a room on a modest budget, try a beadboard ceiling. Things will be looking up -- literally and figuratively -- with your new decor.

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