Sunday, January 27, 2013

Installing a wood ceiling

The new African mahogany ceiling in the forepeak of Oceanus.
There is nothing that improves the looks and comfort of an old fiberglass sailboat than a properly insulated wood ceiling.

Wood frames fiberglassed to the inside of the hull.
Pink foam insulation.
Jason, the previous owner, did the nasty work of fiberglassing the frames to the inside of the hull. My wife and I insulated between the frames with 3/4-inch thick pink foam board. Then we covered the entire section with Refletex, which is bubblewrap covered on both sides with foil. Then we covered that with a 1/16-inch thick white plastic sheet and sealed the edges with white duck tape. Then we could install the wood slats that make up the ceiling.
Stripping the the forepeak.

We were able to get some African mahogany at $3.50 a board foot. The boards were cupped and had a lot of checks in them, but once I milled it down to strips that were 1 1/2-inches wide by about 3/8-inch thick it looked great. It is just thick enough that I could countersink the screws deep enough that my wife could plug the screw holes. Since I made the plugs from the scraps of the left over wood, they matched perfectly. I also milled the trim from the same wood.
The burn marks from the saw blade sanded out easily.

It turned out better than we hoped. Each finished section has at least a couple of coats of my home-made varnish oil mixture. Eventually it will also have a couple coats of thinned spar varnish as well.

The ceiling in the main saloon.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry, got that one messed up. Good results on a tedious job.

  3. Looking at your insulation and wondering if you used this same technique under the water line? I've heard of using the pink foam and it seems like a good choice where you can get a good fit against the fiberglass. I'm wondering how it would work on a curved surface? And whether you glued it at all?

  4. Melissa, I haven't used the pink foam inside any lockers. It's closed cell and won't absorb water, but it's not very tough; you have to protect it somehow. We did it with the white plastic sheeting and the wood ceiling. We didn't glue it because the wood ceiling strips pressed it hard against the hull. If I ever need to get to a place in the hull I can pop out the plugs, unscrew the ceiling strips and pull out the insulation.

    Inside the lockers I'm going to use half-inch polyethylene foam. Again, I'm not going to glue it. It's pretty tough, but I want to easily replace it and quickly get to the hull if I need to. I figure all the stuff in the lockers should keep it pressed up against the hull.