How to make faux wood beams from styrofoam

Written by mia carter
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Exposed wooden beams can create a rustic atmosphere, but purchasing large wooden beams is expensive and installation is difficult due to the large size and weight of the beams. A less expensive and easier-to-install option involves creating faux beams from styrofoam, PVC pipe and wood veneer.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Beam wall brackets
  • Styrofoam cubes
  • Liquid nails glue
  • PVC pipe, approximately 1-inch diameter
  • PVC pipe joints
  • Tape measure
  • Box cutter
  • Pencil
  • Steak knife
  • Wood stain
  • Clear polyurethane
  • Paint brush
  • Compass
  • Heavy objects
  • Piece of cardboard

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  1. 1

    Measure the distance between the two walls to determine the length for the faux wooden beam. This will determine how much PVC pipe will be required for the project.

  2. 2

    Determine the desired diameter of the beam; 5 or 6 inches in diameter would be suitable for many homes. This will determine what size styrofoam cubes to purchase for the project.

  3. 3

    Multiply the desired beam diameter by four and then multiply this number times the beam length, as determined in Step 1. So if you're using a 5-inch styrofoam cube, you'll multiply this times four to get 20 inches. You'll then multiply 20 inches by the desired length of the beam. This final figure indicates how much wood veneer you will need to purchase for the project.

  4. 4

    Purchase all the necessary supplies for the faux wooden beam project. Find styrofoam at fabric stores and craft stores; the other supplies can be found at the hardware store.

  5. 5

    Unpackage the rolls of wood veneer and unroll the wood, placing a large heavy object (i.e., a breeze block or a few phone books) on each end. The sheets can be placed one on top of another.

  6. 6

    Wait 48 hours to allow the sheets of wood veneer to flatten.

  7. 7

    Use wood stain to stain the sheets of wood veneer, and follow by applying a coat of polyurethane to seal the wood. It will need to dry for 24 to 48 hours (the drying time varies by product, so check the packaging for recommended drying time).

  8. 8

    Cut the sheets of veneer (with scissors or a box cutter) into strips, with the width the same as the width of the cubes that will form the beam.

  9. 9

    Cut a piece of cardboard into a square that's the same size as the face of your styrofoam cubes.

  10. 10

    Use a flat edge and pencil to draw two diagonal lines across the cardboard square (i.e., from the upper right corner to the lower left corner and from the upper left corner to the lower right corner).

  11. 11

    Use a compass to draw a circle, using the point where the two lines intersect as the centre point. The diameter of the circle should be about 50 per cent larger than the diameter of the PVC pipe. Cut out the circle with scissors or a box cutter.

  12. 12

    Place the cardboard template onto the top of a styrofoam cube and use a pencil to draw a circle, using the circular hole in the template as a guide. Repeat on the bottom side of the cube. Do this for each and every cube.

  13. 13

    Use a steak knife to create a hole through the cube, using the circles as a guide. To avoid cutting the hole at an angle, cut about half way through the cube from the top, and then cut through the remaining styrofoam via the circle on the bottom of the cube.

  14. 14

    Thread the cubes---which now look like a large square bead---onto the PVC pipe and use liquid nails glue to affix the cubes together as you stack them. You'll end up with a styrofoam beam, with a PVC pipe running through the centre to provide stabilisation.

  15. 15

    Glue the strips of wood veneer onto each side of the styrofoam beam.

  16. 16

    Allow the glue to dry (the drying time varies by product, so check the packaging to determine the recommended drying time).

  17. 17

    Screw brackets into place on the wall and place the faux wooden beam in the brackets.

Tips and warnings

  • You will need to use PVC connectors for a long beam. To accommodate a connector's larger width, you'll need to cut a slightly larger hole in the styrofoam cube that covers the connector.

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