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1 JBWW Jeff Branch Woodworks How to add a coffered ceiling to your home You can add this decorative treatment to your home with just moderate woodworking skills. By JEFF BRANCH. Contents: Introduction 1 Locate and mark the ceiling rafters 3 Layout the beams 4 Framing begins 6 Adding the second row blocking 9 Making the coffer boxes 10 Adding the third row framing 12 Adding moldings 17 Adding the joint trim 22 Variations to this plan 25 Completion 26

4 First a drawing of my living room 3a. Here is a sketch of my room. Because I completed this project several years ago without taking photos of the process, I am recreating it using Google s SketchUp 3D drawing program. This powerful drawing tool will allow me to construct my coffered ceiling stepby-step. Step 1: Locate and mark the ceiling rafters 3b. Using a stud finder, locate the rafters along each wall. Rafters are usually 2x10 s for example. It is helpful to mark both sides of the 2x10 s. Rafters are normally spaced 16 on center. 3c. With the help of a friend, grab your chalk line and snap a line down the center of each rafter. This will be your visual indication of each rafter s location

5 Step 2: Layout the beams In my living room, I have three rows of five coffers (see the illustrations on page 6). The finished size of each beam is 5 wide, not including the moldings. It is important to remember that the beams which run around the perimeter of the room start out 4 1/4 wide and the interior beams start out 3 1/2 wide. There will be additional pieces added to them to make them all 5 wide. Now for a little math... My room is 167 wide and 137 deep. To arrive at the spacing of the beams, for example on the width, I took the 167 and subtracted 30 to get 137. The 30 represents six rows of 5 beams. To find the width of the interior boxes, take the 137 and divide by the number of coffers which in my case is 5 boxes. This equates to roughly 27 3/32 (see this measurement in the illustration in 4a). Follow the same steps to determine the dimension of the depth of each box. Your room will not be the same dimensions as mine, so use the formula above to adjust the layout of the beams in your home. For this reason, the dimensions shown in my illustrations are meant to help explain the construction process more so than to provide measurements for cutting components. A cross section view 4a - This illustration is a cross section view of the coffer in the corner of the room. This means that the beam on the left and the beam that runs left to right across the back are adjacent to a wall. The beam on the right is an interior beam. This gives you a little better understanding of the construction. It is basically layers of boards that are boxed in with trim and molding. Because the interior beams are boxed in on both sides, their layered boards are more narrow than those that run along the perimeter of the room (the perimeter boards are boxed in on only one side)

6 Laying out the beams continued 5a - The beams around the perimeter of the room (highlighted in yellow) are 4 1/4 wide. 5b - The interior beams (you guessed it, in yellow) are 3 1/2 wide

7 Step 3: Framing begins 6a - Using the cross section view, note the beams for the coffered ceiling are built up from three layers of boards (highlighted in yellow, red and blue). The first step is to add the first (or yellow) row of framing. Adjust the calculations used on page 5 (see Now for a little math... ) to compensate for the size of your room. 6b - With your calculations, snap new chalk lines showing the outer edge of the first row of beams. You should have a grid something like that on page 5. We will first concentrate on the beams that run left to right across the room. In the illustration left, using a dado blade in my table saw, I have cut the needed lap joints. Their locations are taken from the chalk lines drawn on the ceiling. 6c - Remember that the boards which run around the perimeter of the room are 4 1/4 wide. The interior boards are 3 1/2 wide. The notch for the lap joints in the corners of the room are different than those of interior boards

8 Framing continues 7a - In my home, I had a wall which was longer than the board I had purchased. Additional lengths of boards were joined at lap joints as shown to the left. 7b - Here I have installed the beam shown in step 6b along with the remaining beams that run across the length of the room. These beams are screwed into the rafters above. These four boards form the back bone of the project. All of the rest of the first row framing attach to these beams. 7c - This illustration shows an example of a beam that runs front to back. The lap joints on the ends are 4 1/4 long and the two interior lap joints are 3 1/2 long. The depth of the lap joint is 3/8-7 -

9 Initial framing concludes 8a - Here I have taken the beam shown in 7c and put it in place (indicated in blue). This beam is screwed into place at the lap joints. 8b - This illustration shows the remaining front to back beams installed. 8c - Using the cross section drawing, it is time to start the second row of framing, indicated in red. This row is made up entirely of blocking

10 Step 3: Adding the second row blocking 9a - The second row blocking should be sized according to the width of the beams. There are three sizes as indicated in the illustration. I have color coded them for ease of identification. 9b - These blocks are located at each lap joint. In the illustration, I have added the first block in the corner of the room, attached with nails and glue. 9c - In this drawing, note the yellow, red and blue blocks: Yellow = 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 Red = 4 1/4 x 3 1/2 Blue = 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 Once these are added, the second row is complete

11 Step 4: Making the coffer boxes 10a - We re making progress. It is time to attach the interior coffer boards, indicated in green. 10b - The inner coffer boards are each fabricated in four steps. The first step is cutting the board to length. The length is the same as the distance between the first row beams, in my case, 40 1/2. 10c - After cutting the board to length, the second step is to cut it to the proper height in my case, 2 1/4. The third step is to cut a notch 3/4 deep and 5/8 wide

12 Making the coffer boxes, continued 11a - The last step is to cut 45 degree angles on each end as shown. The side that will be visible should be sanded prior to installation. 11b - I attach the board to the first row beam with nails. 11c - Here, I have three boards installed. Repeat this process until you have each coffer boxed in

13 Step 5: Adding the third row framing 12a - The coffered ceiling is starting to take shape. We have most of the framing in place and the interior coffer boxes completed. It is time to finish the beams with the third row framing. 12b - Using the cross section view, the third row is shown in blue and fits into the notch on the interior coffer boards. 12c. We will be making some specific angled cuts for the third row boards. Each second row block will provide a nailing point for the third row. I have drawn a diagonal line on the block on the left to indicate how the third row boards will intersect at the corners. The block on the right will have three boards which intersect as indicated with the inverted Y

14 Third row framing continues 13a - Based on the lines drawn in the blocking in 12c, here is the board that will need to be cut. It has a 45 degree cut on the left end and a 45 degree notch on the right end. The board is 4 7/8 wide. Also, the visible side of these and subsequent boards for the third row, should be sanded prior to installation. 13b - Here is the board installed. I have colored it blue to make it more visible. This board is nailed into the blocking. 13c - Go ahead and cut boards with this same profile for the three remaining corners. Install them by nailing into the blocking

15 Third row framing continues 14a - Let s start connecting the corners. Cut boards that have a 45 degree notch on each end as shown. 14b - Install this board as shown. Repeat this step for the opposite wall. This step completes these beams. 14c - Repeat this step for the two other perimeter beams, as shown

16 Third row framing continues 15a - It s time to move on to the interior beam components. Begin this process by making a board that has mitered corners which form a point. Do this for each end. 15b - Here is a close-up of the board needed for this step. 15c - Here, I have installed all of the boards that move towards the center of the ceiling. Note how the boards meet up where beams intersect

17 Completing the third row framing 16a - In this step, I have completed the beams that run left to right across the room. 16b - In this illustration, the final boards for the front to back beams are installed. 16c - A milestone in this project: all the beams are completed. Now the really fun part begins adding the molding

18 Step 6: Adding moldings 17a - Moldings make a big impact on a room. This two part molding is no different. You can see the two profiles in the illustration indicated by different colors. 17b - I purchased the moldings at Lowes. The flat molding shown in deep red in 17a is called shingle mould and measures 1 5/8 wide by 11/16 deep. 17c - The crown molding, shown in brown in 17a, is very small, measuring 1 1/4 tall by 1 deep. I also purchased it at Lowes. If you want to make your coffers deeper, simply buy larger crown molding. You may even want to consider a two or three part molding profile. See page 25 for more details

19 Adding moldings 18a - Using the cross section view, the front edge of the shingle mould should be positioned 2 1/2 in from the beams. Note that the back of the shingle mould does not touch the beam. 18b - Draw lines 2 1/2 in from the edge of each beam as shown. 18c - Measure the distance between the intersecting lines and make your 45 degree cuts on the shingle mould

20 Adding moldings 19a - With the measurement from 18c, make the necessary 45 degree cuts on each end of the shingle mould. Each piece of molding should be sanded as needed. 19b - When applying this to ceiling sheetrock, use an adhesive like liquid nails or adhesive caulk. Use your brad nailer to keep the molding in place while the adhesive dries. 19c - Complete the application of the shingle mould as shown. Repeat these steps for the remaining coffers

21 Adding moldings 20a - Here we see all of the shingle mould installed. Next, we need to add the crown molding. 20b - The crown molding shown highlighted in brown is attached to the shingle mold and the beam with brads from your pneumatic nailer. 20c - In this illustration, the crown has been cut to length and 45 degree miters have been made. In my installation, the length is 39 which fits the long side of the coffers

22 Adding moldings 21a - Here I have taken the crown molding from 20c and installed it with my nailer. See the close-up in 21b. 21b - In my installation, the crown is 3/8 above the bottom of the beam. 21c - This process is repeated so that the crown molding surrounds the inside of the coffer. Then continue adding crown molding to all of the coffers on your ceiling

23 Step 7: Adding the joint trim 22a - Congratulations. All of the molding has been installed. When I did this step, it went well, but with 15 coffers, I cut 120 pieces of molding! Now on to the final step adding what I call joint trim. 22b - In this illustration, notice how I added trim to cover all of the joints. This is a practical step, since some of boards can warp slightly causing joints fit improperly. This step is also decorative. Some of the photos I ran across while researching the design of my coffered ceiling had this same kind of trim which causes additional shadow lines and visual interest. 22c - I have indicated in purple, the trim necessary for this step. The long slender strips are 1/8 thick hardboard and there is a 1/4 thick plywood piece that caps the joints where the beams intersect

24 Adding the joint trim 23a - These little blocks are 1/4 thick and 5 square. Attach them at each beam junction with your nailer. 23b - Here, all of the trim blocks have been installed. 23c - Now that all the trim blocks are in place, fill in with the thin hardboard strips. Measure the distance between the trim blocks in my case

25 Adding the joint trim 24a - These 1/8 hardboard strips are 1/4 wide. On the beams that run around the perimeter of the room, install a single strip on the inner edge as shown. 24b - Strips are used on each edge of interior beams. 24c - Complete this job by filling any small cracks with paintable caulk, set nail heads below the wood surface and fill the holes with wood putty. Sand as needed. Apply a good quality primer and then paint the ceiling a color of your choice

26 Variations to this plan 25a - If you have 9 or higher ceiling height, you should alter my design to take advantage of greater space. In this cross section illustration, I have drawn an example of a multi-piece crown molding. To accommodate the size of the larger crown, you will need to add a board that runs the perimeter of the room, attached to the wall (indicated in light blue). You will also need to lengthen the inner coffer board accordingly. 25b - A taller inner coffer board means that you will need to alter the location of the second row blocking. Instead of attaching this block to the first row framing, you will simply attach it to the third row boards where these boards meet each other. Center the blocking at each board point and align the back of the block with the beginning of the 45 degree notch. 25c - Installing these together gives you a nailing point for subsequent boards at each intersection

27 Completion I hope you enjoyed this project. After writing this e-book, I remembered how fabricating all the boards for the third row could get a little tedious, as well as cutting and attaching all of the molding, but as one person said, It looks AMAZING. I don t know about that, but I am very pleased with the effect in our living room (it is hard to believe from the photo above that the depth of the coffers is only 2 1/2 ). If you have any questions about this process or even suggestions on ways to improve this woodworking plan, feel free to drop me a note via the address is found at my blog (link below). I later added the fluted columns to both doorways of this room to complete the look I was trying to achieve Jeff Branch. Unauthorized duplication or sharing of this electronic file is prohibited. For more tips on woodworking projects visit my website: JBWW Jeff Branch Woodworks

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