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Community and Q&A

Pine ceiling

por72911 | Posted in General Questions on

We are putting a pine ceiling in our farmhouse kitchen. We think that we want to use 6 inch white pine boards that are not tongue and groove. We plan to paint them white. When we look for examples on the internet, all we see is tongue and groove. Is there a reason that we should consider tongue and groove? We are going for the old time look of a farmhouse.

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  1. Expert Member

    Unless you have some overlap between the boards you will end up looking through gaps at whatever is behind them as they shrink and move over time.
    If you have access to pine boards you would like to use, and don't mind spending a bit of time on them, you can rout a variety of overlapping joints into their edges which will make them suit the purpose.

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    As Malcolm pointed out, the boards will shrink each winter, and you will be able to see between the gaps. If that doesn't bother you, there is no reason not to use them. If that bothers you, take the boards to a millwork shop and ask them to put shiplap edges or tongue-and-groove edges on the boards. Any millwork shop can help you.

    Remember that this type of ceiling needs an air barrier; the easiest way to provide an air barrier behind your boards is to install gypsum wallboard (drywall). If you paint the drywall white with the same paint that you plan to use on your pine boards, the white drywall will disguise the cracks when the boards shrink.

  3. por72911 | | #3

    Thank you Malcolm and Martin,
    So what we have done is we removed all of our drywall and have now realized that we need an air barrier. Should we put new drywall up or could we use black roofing paper as the air barrier? We are wanting to see the cracks but we don't want to have things falling through the cracks and have an adverse affect on our heating and cooling.


  4. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #4

    Lisa-how old is your house. Our 200+ year-old Maine farmhouse has plaster ceilings and would probably not have ever had boards.
    One much easier option than square edge boards is beadboard, available as individual tongue and grooved boards or even as plywood, where you'd avoid the shrinkage problems and have much quicker installation.

  5. por72911 | | #5


    Our house is only a 20 year old farm house that we want to look like a 200 year old house. We really like the look of wide plank but maybe we should use t&g.

    Thank you Lisa

  6. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    AJ is correct about the air barrier issue. In my previous answer, I assumed that you were talking about a cathedral ceiling.

    If this is a flat ceiling with conditioned space above, then you don't have to worry about including an air barrier.

    If this is a cathedral ceiling, you can't use asphalt felt (tar paper) as an air barrier. It's too leaky.

  7. wjrobinson | | #7

    Lisa... You want to see square edges adjoining so stick with your plan. Many lumber yards carry T&G that is square edge if installed reverse side exposed. And you don't need an air barrier unless that ceiling has no 2nd floor above it. A layer of taped rigid foam would be the way to go if it is an insulated ceiling plane. I never would use drywall.
    Tar paper is at times smelly.... Outgassing.... Not meant for use inside a home. Worst use... Under a wood floor that heats up from sunny window exposure.

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