The Most Budget-Friendly Wood For Your DIY Porch Ceiling

When you want to upgrade the design of your outdoor gathering area, you might consider painting your porch ceiling or figuring out how to install an outdoor ceiling fan for summer nights. However, perhaps you have more budget-friendly and basic projects in mind first, such as needing to install the wood that will make up the porch ceiling. You have a few design options that will look great and remain affordable, such as beadboard or reclaimed wood, to create a finished look on the porch that covers the rafters and makes it a great gathering space. When you are looking for a budget-friendly option for this purpose, the best option is Southern yellow pine. It is available at an average or below-average cost versus other kinds of wood for your DIY project. 

When constructing the porch ceiling from Southern yellow pine, you have a couple of options. You can attach the Southern yellow pine directly to the exposed rafters inside the ceiling. Some people prefer using thin planks for this process with a tongue and groove design on the edges for simplicity of assembly. A beadboard design that features vertical grooves is another option to create a pleasing look in the Southern yellow pine planks. Another option is to apply a sheet of Southern yellow pine veneer to the ceiling. With veneer, you'd install a lower-priced material as the main ceiling structure and place the thin slice of veneer over the top to hide the cheap material.

Why Southern yellow pine is a great budget choice for a porch ceiling

Southern yellow pine is one of the best woods to use with your porch ceiling when you need to save as much money as possible. It's also an easy material to find, no matter where you live in North America, which contributes to its low price versus other kinds of wood. If you want a pressure-treated type of wood, Southern yellow pine accepts the preservative treatment more thoroughly than most other types of wood. It costs between $7 and $8 for an 8-foot length and 5-1/2 inch width with 3/4-inch thickness for pressure-treated lumber at Lowe's.

If you prefer beadboard with tongue and groove edges in Southern yellow pine, you can find these planks for between $10 and $11 for an 8-foot length, 4-inch width, and 1-inch thickness at Lowe's. These tongue and groove planks are unfinished, so you can stain them to match whatever color you want, or you can use a transparent coating because Southern yellow pine has a distinct grain pattern that provides a pleasing visual element for your DIY project.

For a veneer sheet of Southern yellow pine that you can use on the porch ceiling, expect to pay between $90 and $100 for a 4x8-foot sheet at Woodcraft. This is a two-ply veneer sheet that's $30 to $40 cheaper for the same size sheet of veneer as cedar or beech at Woodcraft.

Other inexpensive wood you can use for a DIY porch ceiling installation

For some moderately priced options other than Southern yellow pine, Douglas-fir works well for outdoor use, as it has above-average durability that helps it manage difficult weather conditions. Its natural oils help it resist rot and insect damage. However, you will have to regularly seal it, especially if you live in a high-humidity area, as it absorbs moisture more easily than other types of wood. You can purchase Douglas-fir beadboard planks at Baird Brothers for between $15 and $16 for an 8-foot length, 3-1/8-inch width, and 5/8-inch thickness.

Hemlock is a softwood that isn't as well-known as some others, but it works well for those who need a budget-friendly option for the porch ceiling. One of its biggest benefits is its ability to resist warping, which is important in an outdoor setting where exposure to high humidity is possible. Because of the large number of knots it has, it delivers a visually appealing finish. Common hemlock boards are available for between $19 and $20 per board for a piece that's 8 feet in length, 4 inches in width, and 1 inch in thickness at Home Depot.