Coffered Garage Ceiling

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Project by ferstler posted 10-12-2008 09:58 PM 15737 views 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife says this may be the only coffered garage ceiling in America.

The original drywall ceiling, like any you would find in north Florida, developed so many bug splats and smears after years of swatting and crushing that I decided to do something about the cosmetics. Also, while doing some attic reinforcing work a while back I lost my footing (or, rather, seating) and pushed my butt right through one section between the trusses. The old ceiling needed work.

So, the new ceiling is basically prefinished, 1/8-inch Masonite sheeting nailed into place over the old drywall. Then, to hide the cracks I laid down very cheap, 1×4 pine trim boards. However, that looked funny, so I kept going and built up the checker pattern shown. The masonite did not need painting, but the trim did and it got primed and then given a semi-gloss coat.

The Masonite was nailed into position with the aid of a Campbell-Hausfeld finishing nailer, and then the trim pieces were nailed into position with a C-H framing nailer. The big hatch in the first picture is actually a 6×6 screen door that gives access to the attic located A/C air handling unit. All cutting was done by a combination of my Craftsman 5.5-inch, left-blade trim saw and my Ryobi miter saw. Air pressure was provided by my Ridgid, oil-free compressor. All of those tools (well, the trim saw is hidden from view), and more can be seen on the shop-view section of my entry.

As part of the garage upgrade we also obtained a new, hurricane-resistant garage door. Initially, I had intended to install the door myself, however, after looking at the shipment (particularly the “parts” box jammed full of hardware) I did not install the thing, and I can tell you that was a good idea, because everything I have heard lately says that even good contractors will not fool with them. I did build the wooden frame around the opening area, and the installer (who does about three of installations a week and took about two hours to install the door and probably could have done it blindfolded) said that the framing was as good as any he had see that had ever been done by anybody else. Of course, he probably gives all the woodworkers that complement.

After a typical summer, the ceiling is still clean, so I assume there must be something about Masonite that repells the usual spiders and crawlers. I am happy about that. The insulated garage door has stayed clean, too.

Howard Fersttler

6 comments so far

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 3934 days

#1 posted 10-12-2008 11:29 PM

Ferstler, have you considered getting the car out of the garage and using this as your shop? So far wifey is letting me get away with it…

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 3545 days

#2 posted 10-12-2008 11:54 PM

I have funny (probably downright rare) ideas about garages.

For me, they are primarily for one thing and one thing only: storing cars. Cars cost money (sometimes lots of money) and letting something that valuable sit out in the weather is like picking your pocket. In addition, both the wife and I like clean, un-rusty and un sun-damaged cars and the way to keep them that way for a long time is to keep them garaged when not being driven. The last two cars we owned (a turbocharged MR-2 Toyota and a 5.0 Mustang liftback) were so clean that when we traded them in the sales clerks at the new-car dealers were practically fist fighting as to who would be able to buy them. Ditto for a 1978 Toyota Celica that we also traded in for the Mustang years earlier, and a VW Beetle we had even before that. Garaged cars get top resale or trade-in value. Also, garaged cars are rarely stolen or vandalized. Note that our present cars are Scion xA and xB models, which get 34 and 33 mpg in the city, respectivel. It was time to junk the gas hogs and save gas.

Fortunately, I have that 240 square foot shop out back (I have interior and exterior views of the item on my pages), so I do not need to use the garage for woodworking. Actually, in our neighborhood most people stuff their garages full of junk that would best be, well, junked. If they did that they could either use the garages for cars or use them for woodworking. As it is, most of the stuff I have seen “stuffed” into garages is slowly mildewing or rusting into oblivion, while the cars stored outdoors are also mildewing and rusting into oblivion.

By the way, my garage is actually quite small, since 20 years ago I enclosed the back of it first to make a photo darkroom, then to convert the same area to an office, and finally to use as an air-conditioned store room. Consequently, only short cars like the Scion models will fit happily. As it is, the Mustang I had for 13 years just barely squeezed into the space.

Howard Ferstler

View CoolDavion's profile


434 posts in 3849 days

#3 posted 10-13-2008 04:20 AM


I’ve also woundered about the sence of having a garage, stuffed so full of stuff, that the cars sit out.

Though, I must confess that currently, my cars are sitting in the drive way, due to a large project in the way, and I am defently under pressure from the wife to wrap things up.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3899 days

#4 posted 10-13-2008 07:32 PM

“You put cars in your garage? Wierd…” Says the Californian.

I think the ceiling looks good, especially for a “shop.”

-- Happy woodworking!

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3008 days

#5 posted 10-07-2011 06:13 AM

the ceiling looks great. since there is so many bugs in your neck of the woods, do you have a screen to cover the garage door opening? they make a motorized canister that mounts on the header trim outside, and they a pleted slideing screen like a shower curtain.just currious

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 3545 days

#6 posted 10-08-2011 11:41 PM

Ironically, the masonite material seems to repel bugs. Before I did the makeover there were all sorts of “nests” being built and attached to the drywall ceiling material, as well as spider webs. Now, with the masonite the ceiling stays surprisingly clean. We do have potential problems with birds nesting in there (we keep it open much of the day; and I can do this, because I am retired and at home much of the time), but I installed a “Bird Chase” noisemaker that keeps them away. In the evening bugs do head for the garage if the door is open (we come and go a lot on foot and it is easier to use the garage entry than the front door), but I also have a bug zapper grid and blue light in there and it cleans the pests out on a grand scale, even after the door is closed later on and the leftover bugs are flying around looking for a way to escape.

As I noted in an earlier posting, our garage is kinda unique in this America of ours: we keep two cars in there, as well as a generator (for power outages) and a few brooms and rakes. That is it. Most people use their garages either as storage sheds or as play areas, and leave their often rather expensive cars out in the weather, which, of course, helps them depreciate faster than ever. I have budget cars (Scion xA and xB models) that are cheap to own, but even so I am not inclined to let them sit outdoors and rust, mildew, and generally deteriorate. While engine and drive-train wear and tear certainly pulls down the value of a car at trade-in time, most potential buyers (or dealer sales people) are wowed when a car is traded that has a like-new body. Trust me, I have tested this theory many times and it is correct. You get more for a trade in if the car looks spiffy, no matter how many miles are on it.

Anyway, bugs do not bother me all that much, and so I feel no need to spring for a huge garage screen door.

Howard Ferstler

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