I was inspired to build a star ceiling after seeing many people post DIY articles online. I knew it would be a fun treat for my newborn son, but I wanted to kick it up a notch.
I have listed these instructions in a Youtube video as well!
For more dad-centered jobs, check out http://www.alldaydaddyo.com
I wanted to find a way to make the ceiling fun and artistic for both nighttime and daytime! Working in the world of theater and event production in New York has put me in touch with many talented artists. I decided to seek out a painter who could turn our plain white ceiling into a beautiful blue sky with clouds. I knew I could handle the build of the stars, but painting with any grace or skill would have to be left to a professional. Most DIY articles online show a fiber optic installation in a ceiling with access from above. A crawl space or even an attic is used to insert the fiber from the top once holes are punched through the panels. There is a terrific guide HERE that I used as the foundation for my methods. In New York City, access to your ceiling from above is downright impossible. I had to find another way. Luckily, we live in a building with the most amazing landlord I have ever had! He was supportive of the idea to make this ceiling, and his only real response was smiling and saying, "That sounds like a lot of work." With his blessing, I set the plan in motion.
Step 1: Framing
I decided to create a dropped ceiling which would install into my existing ceiling using 2x3 lumber. Since the drywall was never going to bear any load, I did not need to install sticks all around the room. I could create anchor points using 12"/18" cuts of the 2x3. This cut my lumber order down and saved me some money. :-)
The 12" cuts were set in the corners and at some "T" junctions, and the 18" cuts were placed where the drywall panels would meet at a seam. In the center are French cleats that I used as an attempt to keep the panels from bowing in the center.
Step 2: Painting
My friendly painter had the drywall panels delivered to her shop and painted them while I framed the ceiling at home.
She did a tremendous job. (There was an attempt to use Glow In the Dark paint on the panels as well, but it never really worked. Now I don't miss it.)
Step 3: Lighting
Finding a fiber optic star ceiling kit online is super easy. There are many options. I wanted to see if I could find more fiber for less. Having some long ends leading from the panel to the light source would make installation a lot easier. After scouring the internet I ordered my materials from a supplier in China. www.ledlightinghut.com sent me 16 watt Fiber Optic Lighting Engine with a remote for $75 and a spool of fiber optic cable (7 strands) for $90. The spool was just over 300 feet of cable that I could cut to my own lengths. This saved me a ton of money.
Now I could cut the fiber optic cable to the lengths I needed and install them into the panels. In the end, I would have panels with a complete star layout that could be transported to my apartment, ready for install.
Step 4: Lighting Install
To install the fiber strands into the drywall I found that an individual nail from a 16 gauge nail gun was big enough. Each strand was 0.75mm. I would just lightly tap in the nail with a hammer from the painted side (so as to make as clean a hole as possible), and then run the fiber through from the back. I left a good 6" hanging through on the painted side to make sure the fiber never pulled back through during the setup.
Blue tape helped keep the cable paths clean and in place, and regular Elmer's Glue was enough to hold the fiber in the hole. I just dabbed a drop on the back and pulled it back and forth a couple of times to get the glue in the hole. Drying time took maybe 10 minutes. Super easy!
Simple white glue is the best. My buddy and I did some tests with some glue we found in the shop...It was corrosive to the plastic fiber and ate right through. :-( Glad we figured it out in time.
Step 5: Home Install
So once the completed panels arrived at the apartment, my helpful friends and I went about the main installation.
First we had to splice the 16 watt LED light source into the ceiling light power. Just trim the two pronged end off the power cord for the LED unit and splice that in with some wire nuts to the positive and negative of the ceiling light power.
With the LED light source installed, we could finish putting the ceiling panels up.
This was a challenging process as we had to get the panels in place, trim any edges that were too big, make sure the fiber optic bundle from each panel was sticking out and headed toward the light source, all while picking these 9x4 panels up and down above our heads. It was exhausting and took some will power and coordination, but we managed to screw all the panels into their 2x3 blocks.
There were three panels total. One 4'x6' in the bottom of the image, and two 9'.3" x4' that were patched together with a spare sheet. The goal was to create as few seams as possible.
Step 6: Moulding
Now, what about the seams?
Well, I purchased some moulding from Home Depot. I picked flat moulding as it would be installing right up against the ceiling and not bridging the gap from the wall to ceiling as crown moulding would. The purpose was to cover the seams. The painter added a coat of white to keep the moulding looking bright even with a knick or two over the years. I borrowed a cordless nail gun from a friend to install the moulding, and it worked like a charm.
In a couple hours, I had it complete.
Step 7: Done!
After all was said and done, I did have the painter come by and do some touch ups on the ceiling and the moulding to cover up the errant nail or screw hole and now it looks spectacular.