Step 2: Hold plywood with T-brace

Photo: Kolin Smith
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When you encounter an electrical box or other ceiling fixture, use a square or compass to draw its outline on the plywood. Make the cutout with a jigsaw.

If you don't have a helper to hold up the plywood, make a deadman, which is a T-shaped brace assembled from 2x4s.

Fasten the 2x4s together and add angled supports under the horizontal top piece. Cut the brace just slightly taller than ceiling height.
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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