Can You Use Plywood For A Garage Ceiling? (A Quick DIY)

garage ceiling

When I was renovating my garage recently, I didn’t know what to do about the ceiling. There were so many options available, and I wanted a ceiling material that not only worked well, but that looked good. A friend suggested I try plywood as he had helped his father install a plywood ceiling in one of his rooms. It made me wonder if you can use plywood for a garage ceiling? 

Using plywood as a ceiling material for a garage is a great option. However, there are exceptions. If you decide on using plywood for your garage ceiling, you need to use fire-retardant plywood or treat the plywood with fire-resistant paint. Remember to check the building codes in your area.

I had a lot of questions on this subject and decided to call an expert in ceiling installation. He gave me great advice and tips. I also researched the matter and decided to share the helpful advice I received and what I discovered on using plywood for a garage ceiling.

Can Plywood Be Used For a Garage Ceiling?

plywood for garage ceiling

When you decide what type of material to use for a garage ceiling, few people will come up with plywood. There are some disadvantages to using plywood for a garage ceiling, but it can be done if you do it right. There are a few factors to consider when using plywood for a garage ceiling. 

Factors To Remember When Using Plywood For A Garage Ceiling

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when you use plywood as garage ceiling:

  • Plywood is still wood, and you need to buy plywood treated against fire or paint the plywood with fire-resistant paint. It will greatly reduce the burn time required by some county regulations.
  • Plywood can’t carry much weight, so you need to know that there will be no tools or equipment that you are putting above the plywood.
  • You need to get the right kind of plywood when installing it as a ceiling in your garage.
  • Plywood is inexpensive, but you still need to buy the best plywood that you can, that being A and B are the best quality plywood that you can find, but there are lesser quality, cheaper plywoods that rate from C – D.
  • Think about what you will do most in your garage. For example, using a plywood ceiling where you are working with a lot of electrical equipment is a bad idea. While treated wood is fire retardant, it is not full-proof and will burn under certain conditions.

What Are The Pros Of Installing Plywood As Garage Ceiling?

There are several advantages to using plywood as a garage ceiling.

  1. When you choose to use plywood as a garage ceiling, you don’t need to call in a professional; you can tackle it as a DIY project if you do it correctly. You will find it much lighter and easier to work with.
  2. You can choose to either repaint the ceiling or restain the ceiling, making it look great.
  3. There are different quality plywoods to choose from, and if you need a more rugged wood, you could always opt for the hardwood plywood sections.
  4. It is very affordable. Some plywood manufacturers have thinner options that are more cost-effective.
  5. Installing plywood as a garage ceiling is stronger, more reliable, and damage-resistant than drywall.

How To Install A Plywood Garage Ceiling?

We often don’t like to tackle DIY projects that are new to us, but here are a few steps to help you get your plywood garage ceiling installed in no time.

Step 1

Measure the garage ceiling surface you will be applying the plywood to. Put on protective gear like safety glasses and a face mask when sanding or cutting wood to avoid inhaling any of the fine material. If you don’t have the right equipment to cut and sand the plywood pieces, you can get them cut to size at a home improvement store or lumberyard.

Step 2

Use a stud finder to find the ceiling joists, then mark their locations with a pencil. Now you need to snap a chalk line across the ceiling to mark the joists to install the plywood vertically. Now move all the furniture out of the garage and put down some drop cloth for the next step. It will keep your floors clean. 

Step 3

Now you are going to glue your plywood in place using panel adhesive. Remember to apply the adhesive using zig-zag patterns. Now place the plywood panel in place and use a pneumatic nail gun to nail it into the joists where you marked them.

Continue with this process (gluing, placing, and nailing the panel into place) and use a rubber mallet to get the plywood panels as close together as possible.

Step 4

You need to use constructive adhesive on the back of the wooden molding (pre-cut). You must line the wooden moldings up with the edge of the ceiling and fasten them to the ceiling with a nail gun.

Step 5

You should then use a putty knife to add a little putty to each nail hole, filling them in. Leave it to dry thoroughly, and use thin sanding paper to smooth out any flaws the dry putty might have left. Wipe the sanded areas with a clean, dry cloth to create a dust-free ceiling.

Step 6

You now need to stain the ceiling, but put down a drop cloth before starting. Using a cloth or sponge, apply a coat of the stain or sealant of your choice according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

To achieve an even, flawless look, don’t stop staining until you have finished the entire ceiling. It will ensure you don’t have any harsh lines where the stain starts to dry. Use a smaller brush to paint the seams and moldings. 

Wait for the stain to dry completely before adding a second coat. When adding this coat, focus more on the lighter and patchy-looking areas. Now, wait for the stain to dry completely, then apply a clear sealant to seal off the plywood.


Installing plywood as a garage ceiling is not a bad idea. I found it was easy to install, and I had no trouble putting the panels into place myself as plywood is not as heavy as other materials. I remembered to use flame-retardant plywood and painted it with beautiful clear fire-resistant paint.

The stain looked great, and now I’m convinced that I made the right choice when choosing plywood for my garage ceiling.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.