Step 4: Nail up the panels

Nailing up the panels.
Photo: Kolin Smith
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As you begin nailing up panels, leave one or two sides unfastened so you can tuck the edge of the next panel to be installed underneath it. The panels should always overlap with exposed edges facing away from the entrance to the room.

Align the corner of a panel at the intersection of the layout lines. Using a brad nailer, fasten it to the plywood every 6 inches along the edge. Angle the nails slightly. Don't nail any edges that need to overlap the next panel.

Ceiling panels have raised bubbles along their edges, which create a perfect ¼-inch overlap. Tuck the edge of the second panel under the first panel, lining up the bubbles.

Nail through two layers of metal at the bubbles. Continue nailing up panels in this manner.
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    Tools List

    • circular saw
      Circular saw,
      for cutting plywood sheets
    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw,
      for cutting holes in plywood
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • chalk line
      Chalk line,
      for snapping layout lines
    • gloves
      Gloves,
      used to protect hands from sharp-edged ceiling panels
    • brad nailer
      Brad nailer and compressor,
      rent for about $40 a day
    • pencil compass
      Compass,
      used to mark round cutout holes
    • framing square
      Framing square,
      used to mark square or rectangular cutout holes
    • metal cutting snips
      Tin snips,
      for cutting ceiling panels
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level,
      used to mark cornice layout lines on wall

    Shopping List

    1. Pressed-metal ceiling panels

    come in 2x2- or 2x4-foot sizes



    2. Press-metal cornice

    come in 4-foot-long sections



    3. 3/8-inch plywood

    creates solid nailing surface for ceiling panels



    4. 2 1/2-inch decking screws

    for attaching the plywood underlayment



    5. 2x4s

    used to build T-braces for supporting plywood during installation



    6. 11/4-inch-long, 18-gauge finishing nails

    for brad nailer to fasten ceiling panels; or use special cone-headed nails



    7. Latex caulk

    used to fill gaps at the seams



    8. Metallic touch-up paint

    for concealing caulked gaps and mistakes on an unpainted ceiling



    9. 1x4 tapping block

    used to seal panel seams



    10. Fine-point indelible marker

    for marking cut lines on ceiling panels



    11. 1/8-inch drill bit

    used to locate ceiling joists



    12. 3/8-inch drill bit

    for boring tin-snip starting holes in ceiling panels