Paneling an Octagonal Ceiling

For any finish carpenter to be successful, it takes hard work, creative thinking, and the ability to connect to the dreams and ideas of our clients. These facts are tested continually in many different ways.

For instance, in the same home Nautilus Finish Carpentry installed the radius trim, we also installed wood-paneled ceilings throughout. It presented a couple of challenges most finish carpenters don’t run into very often.

Most of the ceilings were fairly straight forward – open beam trusses with vaulted ceilings. The material was cut and installed over the top of the truss, giving the appearance that the boards are continuous from one end of the ceiling to the other.

The interesting part of this paneling job however was in the two octagonal study rooms – one on the ground level, and one upstairs. They were both approximately 14 feet in diameter, 18 feet to the peak, and there was a light valance protruding 12 inches off the top of the wall.

In the photo below you can see the framing to which we applied the blue-buggy pine T&G (tongue-and-groove) paneling. Unfortunately, the framing was a little sparse and ran in a direction which was not very useful to us. Insulation had yet to be applied too, which was likely going to push on the back of the paneling and cause bulges.

We had to come up with a solution which allowed us to better attach the T&G to the existing framing, and eliminate the possible bulging problem. As it turned out, the solution to both of these problems saved us a bunch of time and the customer a bunch of money: make pie-shaped panels, and then install them as a unit.

Approaching the finish carpentry installation in this way had some major benefits: For one, we wouldn’t have to install more framing for fastening the 1×6 to. There would also be less cutting of individual pieces, less time up on scaffolding, and a much easier time getting all of those pesky lines in the material to match up.

Here is an overview of how we did it: First we had to build a big temporary table which would allow us to lay up enough material to cover the 11ft-span from the bottom to the peak. The ceiling material we were working with came in lengths of 16ft. Once the table was built, we temporarily attached 1/2 inch plywood to the table so the sheets wouldn’t move around as we installed the 1×6 T&G.

We snapped chalk lines to represent the edges of the pie-shaped panel, and cut them to fit. This allowed us to keep the waste down to a minimum.

Above you can see a panel section as an example. And below is a picture of what the ceiling looked like once all of the pre-built panels were installed.

Once all of the pre-built panels were installed, false beams and an octagonal chandelier box were added. Stain and lacquer completed the finish carpentry job to create a truly spectacular ceiling.

After all was said and done and the ceilings in the entire house were complete, we had saved the home owner a few thousand dollars through shortening the installation time and sending 1/3 of the blue-buggy ceiling material back to the supplier – savings which the home owner then applied towards upgrading his closet packages.

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