We have characterized the structure and electrical properties of p-type nanocrystalline silicon films prepared by radio-frequency plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition and explored optimization methods of such layers for potential applications in thin-film solar cells. Particular attention was paid to the characterization of very thin (~20 nm) films. The cross-sectional morphology of the layers was studied by fitting the ellipsometry spectra using a multilayer model. The results suggest that the crystallization process in a high-pressure growth regime is mostly realized through a subsurface mechanism in the absence of the incubation layer at the substrate-film interface. Hydrogen plasma treatment of a 22-nm-thick film improved its electrical properties (conductivity increased more than ten times) owing to hydrogen insertion and Si structure rearrangements throughout the entire thickness of the film.