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Chevy Astro Camper Van Build: Cedar Plank Ceiling Installation

Chevy Astro Camper Van Build Phase 6: Cedar Plank Ceiling Installation

Tools & Materials


Spax Construction Screws
Drywall Screws
Loctite PL Max Contruction Adhesive
Heat Shrink Butt Connectors
Wire Crimp Connectors Kit
Cedar Planks


Dewalt Compound Miter Saw
Dewalt Cordless Impact Driver
1/4″ Drive Quick Release Bit Extension
Craftsman 3/8 Drive Drill
Wire Cutters
Hole Saw Kit 


Video – Chevy Astro Camper Van Build: Cedar Plank Ceiling Installation

Project Overview: Cedar Plank Ceiling Installation

These are the cedar planks I will be installing for my walls and ceilings

I’ll be using cedar planks for my walls and ceilings. I bought these at Home Depot. They are very thin (1/4″), and I feel like I need to be careful with them. I’ll need to build a flat, even surface for my cedar planks to mount to. I’ll be mounting my LED puck lights in these ceiling planks, so I’ll net to cut those in and wire them up while I install these cedar plank panels.

Mounting Surface

I need to build this area up so I have something to fasten the ceiling panels to

The spot where the ceiling planks meet the headliner is tricky. There is no beam running across the roof here, so I need to build this area up to match the height of the other beams running across the ceiling. This will give me an even mounting surface for the cedar planks, and also, something to screw into. But first, I need to figure out a way to mount the wood to the ceiling, without drilling into the ceiling.

Laying a bead of construction adhesive on my wood pieces

Adjustable drywall sanding poles doing a great job

A close up look at the boards as the construction adhesive cures

I decide against one long board running across the headliner. The ceiling is very curved and would require kerf cuts, But then, I wouldn’t be able to glue it down as well. Instead, I decide to cut several 1ft sections of wood and glue them to the ceiling alongside the headliner. But how to keep pressure on them while the adhesive dries? I was lucky enough to have several adjustable poles, for drywall sanding, just laying around in my tool room. I used these below the boards, pushing up on the ceiling and twisting the poles to lock the position into place. Worked very well!

Laying The Planks

Installing the cedar planks on the ceiling requires a second set of hands

Laying the ceiling planks is just like laying the planks for the walls, except harder, because you’re doing it upside down. It definitely helps to have a second set of hands here for this. I didn’t ahve to build up the surface of the ceiling like I did with the walls, since the beams running across the ceiling were already at a good height to fit around the polyiso insulation. The existing ceiling beams also leave me with a decently flat mounting surface for the ceiling planks.

Here we need to make cuts to work around the Maxx Fan

The first couple of rows of planks are the easiest, since they are full boards. There is some cutting to do around the Maxx Fann, but all of the cuts here are chop cuts, nothing special to fir the contours of the van or anything. This makes the install fairly simple.

Transition between the ceiling panels and the headliner

I was initially unsure of how I would tackle the transition between the headliner and the ceiling planks. I was thinking I would have to put up a piece of trim here to hide the transition, but honestly, I am pretty happy with the way it looks as-is. I want the van to look nice, but I also don’t need every little thing to be perfect.

LED Puck Light Installation

Cutting holes for the LED puck lights

LED puck lights installed

Testing the LED puck lights with 9v battery after wiring them up. They work!!

Two of the planks in the ceiling will have LED puck lights installed. There will be a total of 4 3W LED lights, and they are dimmable.

I use a hole saw to cut holes in the cedar planks for the LED lights. The clips on the lights just fold back as you insert the light into the holes, and the snap back, holding it in place. Easy.

I’ve already ran my 14 gauge wires here to the light locations previously. Once I’ve got the ceiling plank with the LED lights in place, and a second set of hands helping hold the plank up, I crimp the LED light wires to the 14 gauge wire and tuck them up under the ceiling planks before screwing the plank down. Then, I can use a 9v battery to test that the lights are working. Oh yeah!

Maxx Fan Trim Installation

Trim for the Maxx Fan is installed, and the ceiling is complete

The final step for the ceiling is to install the trim piece for the Maxx Fan. It just slides into place and 4 screws hold it in. This little piece of plastic really gives the ceiling that finished look though, and this van is starting to look pretty respectable!

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