Asked on Jan 22, 2015

How do you seal wood ceilings to prevent dust from coming through?

Susan Cotten
by Susan Cotten
We are remodeling a home built in 1912. When we removed the ugly drop ceiling, it has beautiful wood ceilings. We would love to keep the ceilings in some rooms but the dust is unreal that makes it through the cracks. How can I seal and keep the ceilings? Thanks!
  12 answers
  • jam the space between the boards with string that has been soaked in PVA it dries clear and looks good when finished

  • Viktorija Briggs Viktorija Briggs on Jan 22, 2015
    We have a similar situation with our 12' high ceilings. After tossing around several ideas over the last couple of years, we decided that we will be cover the spaces with 2" battens. Once completed we will then paint the ceiling an off-white. This will keep the room bright to reflect light, as the walls will have intense deep colors on them. The battens will also give an added dimension to the ceiling, and the room overall. Our ceiling boards are also on the diagonal, another neat architectural aspect to the design.

  • Loretta Clark Loretta Clark on Jan 22, 2015
    Lucky you with a board ceiling! I'm sure you will find something to seal it with. Enjoy!

  • I have a similar situation and I was thinking about running clear caulk down the seams.

    • See 6 previous
    • Thank you for the information, I truly appreciate the advise!

  • Beadcarver Beadcarver on Jan 22, 2015
    Why not go big? We have a ceiling that goes up to the roof. The roof does not have a very good angle for the area where we live. There is snow here and this is not a snow roof. But it looks great. It is about twelve feet at the peak. There are four by ten beams up on the ceiling. My ceiling is white the beams look like me cedar. No shiny finish.

  • Pati Russell Pati Russell on Jan 22, 2015
    Clear sealer is the best. Because of the fumes its best to do it when you can open the windows. We have a knotty pine and grooved wood in our whole house ceiling to floor.

  • Change of Art Change of Art on Jan 22, 2015
    This might sound silly, but it worked for me on a similar situation... Vacuum the heck out of the ceiling – using the brush attachment (canister vacuum sitting on another ladder). And, really 'brush' it to loosen bits stuck in the crevices – and even dust in the wood's open grain. You'll want to wear some kind of mask and goggles. Cover your hair, too -- it could get pretty messy!

  • Norman Ransom Norman Ransom on Jan 22, 2015
    If you haven't already insulated the attic I would suggest you first remove all the old insulation. On a house that old be sure to check for asbestos. Being a native Texan I know just how much dirt has accumulated in the existing insulation. Dirt packed insulation has lost most of its insulating ability and this may be the source of some of your dust. Re-insulate in which ever method you like best after cleaning, insulation will pay for itself fairly quickly. I bet the house is beautiful and well built.

  • Margareth Margareth on Jan 22, 2015
    @margareth There are many different colours and patterns in duck tape. Maybe you can choose one to match your ceiling and use interesting shapes to fix the problem.

  • Kristan MacKay Kristan MacKay on Jan 28, 2015
    You can use wood fill that is paint or stain abilities, or clear caulk that can paint or stain.

  • Mya Mya on Jul 05, 2018

    I know this is an old thread but want to put this up for the benefit of anyone struggling with this problem. Our house is hundreds of years old. There are hand hewn chestnut beams and plank ceilings of tulip poplar. Above that, someone added blown insulation and then bats on top (versus cleaning out the loose fill first) in the attic and the rooms below are dusty beyond belief. We attempted caulking and I will tell you this is a *very* bad idea. Wood shrinks and expands with the seasons, and the caulking will fail. You will be left with a major clean up at some point and it won't keep the dust out. The only way to tackle this is to get above the ceiling and cover the area, then lay your insulation on top of that. You are likely getting dirt and insulation fibers as mentioned above and these are not healthy to breath. I attempted other "sealing" approaches, as well, and very sincerely, you need to tackle the problem from above, not below.

  • Stuart Stuart on Aug 04, 2018

    I am struggling with the same question in an old multistory building we have renovated for apartments (to brig life again to an old downtown). The floors above have been cleaned and sealed and the ceilings sealed with varnish but dust still comes through between the beams . I am looking for a paintable sealing solution on the ceilings. Any ideas?

    • Lindsay Lindsay on Apr 26, 2020

      I know that this is an old thread but if you happen to see this, please do share what you ended up doing to seal your boards. We are in the exact same situation and are desperate to find a fix.