Need advice on installing T&G cedar inside

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Forum topic by Mary Anne posted 09-25-2010 03:51 PM 15133 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4265 days

09-25-2010 03:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: questions

My beach vacation is over and I am back home working on my summer projects. My big summer project for the third year in a row is a room addition for a hot tub and I could sure use some expert advice from carpenter type LJs! I am at the stage now of finishing out the interior by adding cedar tongue and groove horizontally on the walls. I have a couple of issues and questions on how to best go about it.

(1) The longest boards I can get are 16’ long, but my longest wall is 23’.
How would you join the ends to make the 16’ boards cover 23’? Should I just butt them end to end, overlap with 45º bevels, route them with a T&G bit, or something else?

(2) This is probably more of an esthetic issue than a skill, but I would again appreciate the advice of someone who has experience. How would you line up the end joints on the boards? Should they be randomly staggered, a bricklayer pattern, evenly lined up in one or two places on the wall, or a seam down the center?

If it matters, the wall in question used to be an exterior wall of poured concrete. It has styrofoam about 2” thick over the concrete, and I have attached 1”x2” boards vertically every foot or so for nailing the T&G.

(3) While I am asking questions, what kind of finish (or do I need a finish?) would you use on cedar T&G to best deal with occasional steam from a hot tub? I have plenty of windows and skylights to vent the moisture so I don’t expect it will be constantly damp in there. I’ll add a dehumidifier if it seems necessary.

Thanks a bunch!

29 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5275 days

#1 posted 09-25-2010 04:03 PM

Mary Anne, I have no experience actually doing this, but the way I’ve usually seen it done is with butt joints, randomly spaced.

I think I would leave it unfinished.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4265 days

#2 posted 09-25-2010 06:46 PM

Thanks, Charlie. I appreciate your input. I am probably guilty of overthinking this project and making up too many options. I just want to do it ‘right’, you know?

I would still love to hear from anyone who has done this before.


View Gary's profile


1476 posts in 5381 days

#3 posted 09-25-2010 06:59 PM

My shop is vertical board and batten cypress; I’m residing my home the same.
I use 45 degree miters where the ends meet with random spacing—don’t want to create a straight line
which someone’s eye would be drawn to—with the upper board over the lower one.

The tongue and groove floors in our home are T&G on the ends too; it’s more work but worth it IMHO.

-- Gary, Florida

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Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4265 days

#4 posted 09-26-2010 01:53 AM

Thanks a lot, Gary. Do you feel the 45º miters make the joint blend better than a butt joint?
Maybe I’ll give that a try with a dab of Tite Bond III and a couple pin nails.

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 4360 days

#5 posted 09-26-2010 03:13 AM

I have done a few hundred siding jobs…butt joints on interior walls will work just fine. No one has ever asked for or spec’ed 45 degree butt joints.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4054 days

#6 posted 09-26-2010 04:08 AM

I did my cabin at the lake with tongue and groove cedar. Since you are doing a room that is going to have a hot tub there will be a lot more moisture than normal. I would 45 degree the end joints. Randomly stagger all joints, do not put a finish on cedar, let it breathe. Also try to blind nail eveything. Exposed nail heads will go black from humidity.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 4040 days

#7 posted 09-26-2010 04:29 AM

Hey Mary Anne,
If it were me doing this for you I would be using but joints. The tongue and groove will help hold the butt joints together combined with staggering the joints.
You could miter the ends if you want but its not necessary for this application. Tongue and groove on the ends is not necessary for a wall as it is for a floor, unless you plan to make a V groove joint to accent the joint.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4810 days

#8 posted 09-26-2010 05:14 AM

I am planning to do the ceiling of our living room in T and G cedar in the next couple of weeks, and plan T and G ing the ends as well. Good luck.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View Ken90712's profile


17984 posts in 4245 days

#9 posted 09-26-2010 02:05 PM

I have to go with the butt joints a well, as long as they are square they will form a tight joint supported by the T & G. Also the advice on the hidden nails is very important and will give it a first class look to boot. Have fun and good luck! Can’t wait to see the pics!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 4200 days

#10 posted 09-26-2010 02:46 PM

Definately butt joints, but chamfer the ends the same as the sides. You can do this with a router, or more quickly with a miter saw (a SCMS makes it easy). I second the hidden nails, nail on an angle through the tongue. As for finish, that’s up to you, but be aware the cedar will gray without one. I’m going to try to put a picture in here, wish me luck

From Abraham jobs

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4360 days

#11 posted 09-26-2010 03:17 PM

i would go with a butt joint mary ann..ive done my whole house with antique southern heart pine and a tight butt joint looks just great…try not to have any nails heads exposed and the will also get very hot if someone leans against them while sitting in there….also you should leave the wood unsealed…these rooms will need maintenance and if it were me i would just lightly sand them every once in awhile and apply some cedar oil to the wood…it helps the wood to not get dry rot…adds that nice cedar smell back into the room and keeps the wood looking like cedar should look…would love to see the room when your done….so pictures please…grizzman, p.s..the easiest way to lightly sand these is with a sanding pole…and hand rubbing the oil onto the wood wont take long at can use a paint brush or even a short nap roller…just a few ideas…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4265 days

#12 posted 09-26-2010 05:00 PM

Hey, guys,

Thanks for all the hints, tips, and opinions. FWIW, on the walls I have already finished —normal wood framing, insulation, and green board— the nails are hidden in the tongues. Leaving exposed nails is out of the question for my tastes. I am going for a rustic look, and the cedar achieves that; exposed nails just look like bad craftsmanship to me.

I am only running into this issue on one wall in the area between the top of the doors and where the cathedral ceiling slants back far enough to use the 16’ boards. (I should post some pics.)

I attached the furring strips with 3 1/2” Tapcons through the styrofoam into the concrete. They are solid.

Gregn and ken90712,
Good point about the T&G holding it together and supporting the joint. I guess it will come down to whether I want to hide the joints or accentuate them. I was thinking the 45º miters or butt joints might blend in better, but the chamfer to match the T&G may be the better way. It looks classy on nailbanger2’s ceiling. To do something that looks intentional often looks superior to trying hide it. I’m going to experiment with both methods.

If it comes out looking as nice as the pics I’ve seen of your place, I will be happy. I haven’t made my final decision yet, but I am thinking I will probably do an oil based sealer to keep the cedar color but avoid that extra maintenance.

Maybe I will do a blog with pictures of what I have done already. Anyway, thanks again, fellas; I really appreciate your feedback and help.

View Gary's profile


1476 posts in 5381 days

#13 posted 09-26-2010 05:48 PM

Mary Ann, I see now there’s one difference between our jobs: interior vs. exterior.
You asked, “Do you feel the 45º miters make the joint blend better than a butt joint?”
I believe outside it’s more important—don’t want a place water can easily creep through.
That’s the primary reason I chose a 45º miter on the board ends.
Hard to say if you would require it inside.
Moreover, it might be easier to get good looking butt joints than miters.

-- Gary, Florida

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 4200 days

#14 posted 09-26-2010 06:45 PM

Thanks, MaryAnne, I didn’t know if you’d be able to see them. For some reason, all the pics of ceilings I’ve done don’t show the joints too well. BTW, could you please keep your pets under control? I had to pick up trash again this morning. Little bandits !

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4360 days

#15 posted 09-26-2010 06:54 PM

question here mary ann…is the ceiling in this room flat or slanted…if its flat…you could get condensation drips …if at all possible a slanted ceiling is better…2 inch rise for every foot…just thought i would throw that into the mix…is there any chance you would post some pictures of this project..i would like to see how its looking and then the finished shots…:)..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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