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Finding Joists in Porch Ceiling for Plant Hooks

Posted by love_the_yard (My Page) on
Tue, May 28, 13 at 17:25

I want to install ceiling hooks in my back screened-in porch from which to hang plants. I'm having a terrible time finding the ceiling joists.

I'm planning to use Stanley 3-7/8" #4 Zinc-Plated, Round Screw Ceiling Hooks rated at 60 lbs. They seem like a better choice than toggle bolts that could rip out from the sheet rock by a heavy plant.

I don't have any way to get above the ceiling or into the attic to locate the joists. I have tried the knocking technique without any luck. I just can't differentiate the sounds very well. I have a stud finder, but it doesn't work very well on this rough semi-popcorn ceiling. (It never worked very well on my smooth walls, either.)

Do the joists run parallel or perpendicular to long side/back of the house? I'm worried that they run parallel and, if so, I will have no choice how far away from the screen to place the hook. The patio is long and narrow and I can't have plants hanging down the center.

Would the joist spacing be 24" on center, rather than the standard 16", since it is the porch?

Can I just measure our 16" or 24" out from the long side (or from the short side) in order to locate a joist?

I'm sure I am making this way too difficult, but I also don't want to end up with a million holes in the ceiling or a big mess. I would be so grateful for any help.

The back of the house and porch:
 photo IMG_2623Large.jpg

Screen door is on the far left side:
 photo IMG_2624Large.jpg

 photo IMG_2625Large.jpg

I want to install the hooks in the ceiling on the right side (screen side) of the next two photos:
 photo IMG_2626Large.jpg

 photo IMG_2628Large.jpg

Thank you SO much!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Finding Joists in Porch Ceiling for Plant Hooks

Your joists/rafters will almost certainly be long ways, side to side. That's how the gable roof would be framed.

I'd probably assume 16" centers and poke a finishing nail through the drywall to see if it goes all the way in or hits a rafter. A finishing nail won't leave much of a hole in a popcorn ceiling. If it goes through at 16" and an inch either side, then move it a couple inches over at a time. It's such a small width that it might be framed something other than 16" or 24".

RE: Finding Joists in Porch Ceiling for Plant Hooks


Thank you so much for the help. I will give it a try tomorrow. So it sounds like my only choice would be to place the hooks at whatever distance the first joist is from the long screen side... unless there are any "cross joists" that run perpendicular to the long screen side? I was hoping to find something like that so I could use any distance from the screen I wanted. Would there be any joists or cross beams (or whatever the correct term is) that run perpendicular to the back of the house (that is, across the ceiling the short way)?

Thanks again for your time. I really appreciate it.


RE: Finding Joists in Porch Ceiling for Plant Hooks

I doubt there will be any framing perpendicular to the rafters.

RE: Finding Joists in Porch Ceiling for Plant Hooks

Homebound, thank you for the reply. Interesting, as on the Home Repair forum, I was told they would run the "short way". If I understand, that meant they would be perpendicular to the rafters. See link below. (I wish I had x-ray vision - this would be so much easier!)


Here is a link that might be useful: Home Repair forum - same topic

RE: Finding Joists in Porch Ceiling for Plant Hooks

I should have thought of what one poster suggested: take the light fixture down and probe around the junction box. It may be nailed to a joist, or in between joists, secured via a bar that attaches to both joists. In any case, a stiff wire poked in all 4 directions should be able to solve the mystery.

Surely taking down a light fixture isn't any more trouble than all the poking and stud finding you've been doing. :-p

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