Timber ceilings HELP!!

June 9, 2015
Hi I'm after some advice on our very high Timber ceilings apart from painting them any other ideas how we can cover them cheaper alternative ( I want them white apart from beams) ??
We were quoted $5000 to have it painted!

Comments (59)

  • d. steel

    kooky Karen, the OP is after a solution cheaper than painting. once you line between the rafters (yes ladies they're rafters not beams, the beam is the bit at the top holding it all up) it will still need to be painted. how are you going to attach the lining given the whole reason suggested for lining is to save the timber underneath? do you know how many fixings are required for ceiling lining? Lots. so run some battens first maybe. then once all that lining is fixed the joins and all the screw holes will need to be plastered. and all this on an impressively high cathedral ceiling. hey you know why the painting quote was $5K?

    the reason I love this building design is the process of putting sarking on top of rafters is straightforward. then no ceiling lining work is required, and no plastering and it can become surprisingly cost effective.

    if you want to hide all that extremely money timber just paint it. but if you do, paint everything, including the timber spiral staircase, otherwise the interior will look a bit confused? yeah

  • foxyg
    I have the same problem
    Very high timber ceilings & I just got a quote for it as well
    You can get it done cheaper
  • Jenny

    Have you thought of maybe an oblong skylight either side. Architects are using them more & more , because they really add a stylish and customised looking ' wow ' factor and the extra light streaming in will make the area look twice the size. Then the dark wood will be the ' hero ' again , which it probably was when first built.

  • d. steel

    skylight a nice idea, big dollars, but always good for this style, opening skylights would be best option, electric, get passive cooling airflow in summer.

    foxyg reckons you can get it painted cheaper. does she live in the same area as you? how much prep is required on the ceilings? your varnish probably at least will need a light sand if not more. that staircase and mezzanine could be a very time consuming obstacle. I'd want to build a mobile scaf in there rather than use trestles and a plank, which would of course be illegal once you got high enough to reach the apex, unless you double planked and added a handrail if there was room for that. you might find some bloke that'll do it all off trestles and a plank with no/little prep for cheap and it might be okay, might be, but what if???

    dark ceilings are tomorrows trend

  • Claire
    Great ideas! Thanks.
    The paint is a big job yes needing scaffolding for sure it has a shellac over the top!!
    But I'm liking the lights idea
  • Jennifer
    I had similar ceiling .... The painters spray painted and it cost much less. Still needed scaffold, but that really wasn't a big issue. The change was wonderful! It went from a cabin feel to a beach feel.....now I love them and it lifted the entire feeling of the house. I had beams painted too....but it's all a matter of personal preference. Definitely get more quotes. It will look fantastic!
  • Jenny

    d.steel is correct . If painting it's all in the preparation . If the tradie needs the job , and is the cheapest quote , he could cut prep time. Especially important with shellac underneath . Although retired now , had a painting & decorating business.

  • Marc Lawrence
    d. steele mentioned the hanging of big white light fixtures which I really like the lateral idea of, and along those lines you could also look at some large "feature" ceiling fans on long poles perhaps?
  • PRO
    Nicole's Interior Creations

    Hi,as much as I like the timber,painting it all white and the walls too would look stunning ,it will look like a totally different space!

  • E A

    What about adding white on rafters and beams?

  • PRO
    Nicole's Interior Creations

    Here's a few pics a bit different to yours but u can get the idea.....

    guest house · More Info

  • PRO
    Nicole's Interior Creations

    Living Room · More Info

    Traditional Beach House · More Info

  • Claire
    Yes I love the look but I would leave all beams exposed I think !!
    Thanks for all great ideas & advice
  • d. steel

    me again. all white. trust Nicole. all white. if you paint, all white. hang on, have I made my opinion clear enough? all white. but forget my earlier comment about the spiral stairs because look at this.....

    mmmmmmmmm, some timber down low and up there all white is very alright.


    hideous to the extreme. confused right here. what the heck is this supposed to be?

    I'm done.

  • PRO
    Nicole's Interior Creations
    Luv that first pic,all white,lol
  • meilin42

    Timber floors with all white above is so very typically Australian these days. In the winter when the sun streams in it can make things a bit stark and bright and wash out textures, Have a look at the remodel that Jessica Helgerson Interiors have done on a Saul Zaik house in Portland. That is timber ceilings done well. Indeed any Pacific Northwest Regional style will show just how liveable a timber ceiling can be.

  • d. steel


  • charmelee

    Hi everyone, I am about to make the bold move of painting my cathedral ceiling all white. So the question is what type of white and should it be matte, low sheen or semi gloss. In Australia usually with plaster ceiling it's always matte but in the US timber is treated as timber and sometimes painted with a low sheen or semi gloss. So I don't know which way to go? Sometimes matte white on timber can look cheap. Any suggestions?

  • Julie Walton
    I would go on your gut feeling! Everyone has great ideas, but this is your baby so give it a go! Would suggest getting more quotes. Good Luck
  • jbantick

    $5000 is probably somewhere near the mark as the painter needs to supply extra scaffolding on top of their usual equipment. Theres a lot of prep such as cleaning and sanding and also being high and pitched as well it would be quite a difficult job. Painting it is the easy part. The prep needed to get to that stage would be extensive as I noted.

    Me, I'd leave it as its not that bad at all. Having said that, if it was a 'new construction' I would have painted it and used a cheaper ceiling lining though.....

  • chookchook2

    I'm with jbantick. Not literally, although that depends somewhat on location.

  • kym2650


    How big is the room?

    I had a similar issue although my room was much darker to begin with. I added oblong skylights and then plastered below the rafters. I also insulated the ceiling which was as cheap as chips - about $220.00 for R3.5.

    The plastering cost $3,800 at 'mates rates'. I still have to paint it but I will do that myself. The room is 9m x 4.5m.

    I did not have the luxury of lots of light as you appear to have and this was really the only solution.

    Haven't added much I am afraid. Just don't be too afraid of doing things.

  • cjay1952
    i love the photo by steel on the left. White ceiling rafters and timber floors. Looks great. I wish it was my house.
    I was going to say add skylights. But this looks great.
  • Kathy

    Perhaps just add more lighting, e.g downlights and add skywindows/skylights if the space needs light? Timber ceilings of that type these days are expensive to build, and beautiful in quality. It'd be nuts to ruin them - but that's just me. If there isn't enough light in the room after adding lighting etc, look at the placement of existing windows and doors. If it's a room that opens to the outside, more light can be gained by opening up the doorways. White painted timber, if you're hell bent on it, isn't the worst decision you could make - as long as its in keeping with the house's style overall. $5000 would be about right because they are high ceilings.

  • juliechristine

    This is an amazing room.

  • Kel B

    Wow! they are lovely! I would go a skylight or two. Or perhaps bleach them so they lighten?

  • maeveansell

    What did you decide? We have very similar raked ceiling and thinking of " lime whiting" rather than paint to retain the texture

  • PRO
    Nelson Interior Stylists

    Your question really comes back to you.

    I feel that sometimes people say oh no dont but that is only because they love them but you do not.

    If you dont love them then get a painter in to spray them.

    Get a couple quotes but ask them for a written quote and do they guarantee their work.

    White is bright and will modernise it but just make sure you are 100% with your choice.

  • Cloudyhaze
    Hi all, I had this same question in my own post last year with our place. Just seemed SO overloaded with timber look (even tho is a timber/stone cottage). We still haven't fully decided on ceiling, but bit the bullet and began on the pine panelling walls! MASSIVE difference and freshness, let alone brighter!!
  • siriuskey

    The first two are our place, photo a bit over coloured but love the timber, we have lots of light, the second idea for if you cover the ceiling but leave the beams, Sky Lights would really help but aren't cheap. good luck

  • Nellie Sarah
    Keen to know what the original poster and others who had a similar ceiling did in the end. We have the same dilemma, pine t&g ceiling and it's too dark.
  • Cloudyhaze
    We still haven't come up with a decision. Unfortunately our walls and ceiling need a solid cleaning anyway, so have begun sanding the rafters. Still undecided, as ours is such a unique "rough workers cabin" with no polished/smooth timber anywhere.
    Even the ceiling timber are rough slats (which annoy me) rather than pine tongue and groove....
    Thinking about some sky lights but still really feel painting will need to happen. We are definitely doing the walls, which we have done downstairs in the hallway/spare bedrooms and looks so incredibly different!
  • siriuskey

    Your rough timber slats sound a bit like Ship Lap and always look good painted, what climate do you life in, if you live in a colder mountain climate the timber with skylights would suit best, coastal, white would be ideal. You can buy large white paper shades, very 70's, these could be grouped at different heights and inexpensive too cheers

  • Cloudyhaze
    Thanks @siriuskey, we are on a hill on the Mornington peninsula in Melbourne. It is very damp and surround in cloud thru out winter, so part of the issue is preventing mould issues due to no central heating/air options with unique cathedral/design.
  • Cloudyhaze
    @siriuskey, my perfectionist hates the warped and non-neat factor unlike tongue groove boards!!
    All out wall paneling we have filled and sanded EVERY knot & hole before painting to the best we can which is SO tedious. But my perfectionist wife wouldn't handle not filling the knots/indents?
    Anyone else have opinion on this, the ceiling would be painful & daunting than choose to think about presently!!??
  • miriam_meek

    Hi Everyone - I just painted my pine tongue and groove ceiling - and the boards WARPED !!!!!!!help (and careful ),


  • siriuskey

    Hi Cloudyhaze your natural timber and stone work together beautifully, living on a hill in your area would need some kind of heating. A couple of Velux skylights would be great cheers

  • Cloudyhaze
    Oh no! Pics?
  • Cloudyhaze
    @siriuskey thanks! Looking into skylight options. Timber is nice but just feels like to much! We've started painting the upper dorma window/walls
  • siriuskey

    I think you might be surprized what these windows can do if installed correctly

  • Cloudyhaze
    @siriuskey where are you located (Country)? Not sure if they are available in Australia, but what are the advantages you have experienced from this particular brand/design? Cheers
  • Cloudyhaze
    @jpfox photos?
  • Creativelychallenged

    Cloudyhaze....I think all of the options look good, but it just depends on the look you personally wish to have for your house, because painting the ceiling white will COMPLETELY change the look. My sister has just bought a place that had brick walls and exposed ceilings that had the beams painted mission brown and the ceiling was in some form of raw chipboard type material. She wanted to brighten the place up before she moved in and got it all painted white. It looks beautiful, but I personally would have thought of other options before painting the brick etc.

    She got a quote for plastering (sheeting) the sections in between the exposed ceiling beams and it was a lot more expensive than painting. If you are keen to paint just the panelling in the ceiling, then I would get additional quotes. I am no painter but I would suspect if it has shellac on it, it will just need an initial sealer on it, before putting on the 2 coats of flat ceiling paint. I think all of the options will look beautiful, because the high ceilings are the feature.........it just depends on whether you are going for a more rustic look, mid-century look , more modern look...I am not sure of what all the designs are called. Good Luck. Your house is gorgeous. My sister lives on Gold Coast BTW.

  • Creativelychallenged

    I think once the first coat has gone on the timber panels, you will see whether it looks better with beams remaining in exposed timber or not. I am with the others..get some additional quotes on the painting.

  • Claire
    Thanks for all the comments....So after being in 2 minds for 2/3 years we finally just did it and I love it it’s like a new house
  • Creativelychallenged

    Wow! I love it too. Is that just painted?

  • Claire
    Yes just before Christmas we did it , best thing we’ve done!
  • Cloudyhaze

    Wow that’s awesome @Claire , looks amazing. Thanks so much for the picture update. Thanks @Creativelychallenged for the thoughts.

    As mentioned previously our ‘shiplap’ drives me nuts. There are SO many previous water leak stains, and we get dust/ant/bug crap coming thru the cracks due to the non sealed edges.

    It is also IMPOSSIBLE to see mozzies which is an issue. just for previous posters, the shiplap is untreated so all raw making paint easier. We would prob plaster as a better option. We have temporarily staples bed sheets to the sections to help see mozzies and get a visual for the moment :)

  • Jenny

    Great job. Best result for sure.