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How to create faux ceiling beams

To spruce up the look of a room, consider installing faux ceiling beams. Since faux beams do not provide any structural support, you can make them out of wooden boxes, plastic foam, polyurethane or resin. Lightweight faux beams make overhead installation easier, and you can apply almost any paint or finish you desire to achieve your favourite effect, such as rough-hewn wood or shiny varnish. You can add architectural interest to your interior decor in just a day or two.

Calculate the total length of beam material you will need. Measure the ceiling's width and multiply by the number of beams you want in the room. This equals the total length of material you will need. Add 5 to 10 per cent, to have enough extra in case of any mistakes.

Make outlines with painter's tape on the ceiling where you want to install the beams. Use the stud finder to locate the studs within these outlines and mark them with a pencil on the painters' tape outside of where the faux beams will be placed. This way, you can later see where the mounting blocks are when you cover them with the faux beam material.

Begin with the board for the bottom of the beam, the side that will face the floor. Attach two boards of equal width along the long edges of the bottom plank, to form the sides of the faux beam. It is a good idea to use narrower boards for the sides of your faux beams. This makes them lighter and easier to mount. Since the ends of the beams will touch the wall, it will not be necessary to close them. Paint or finish the beams as you like.

Cut mounting blocks from two-inch by two-inch lumber. Measure the inner width of the faux beams and cut the blocks to fit. For example, if the inside of your faux beam is four inches, each mounting block will be four inches wide, two inches high, and two inches thick. You will need one mounting block for every stud you marked on the painters tape.

Attach a mounting block at each stud you marked on the tape. It will span the width of the faux beam inside. Use heavy-duty screws to ensure they are securely attached to the studs above the ceiling. Position the blocks carefully in a straight line or you will not be able to mount the beams on them.

Try and place the beams over the mounting blocks to make sure they fit correctly. If they do not fit, reposition the mounting blocks for proper fit. Then apply construction adhesive to the edges of the beam that will come in contact with the ceiling. Also apply glue to the sides of each mounting block where it will contact the beam inside. Set the glued beam over the wooden blocks, tightly against the ceiling.

Screw through the sides of the beam into each of the mounting blocks, countersinking them slightly. Wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth.

Fill the countersinks with matching wood filler or putty. Paint if needed.

Tip

It is best to acclimate the beams overnight in the room where you will be installing them. That way, if they expand or contract before you cut them, they will fit. Cut them slightly longer than your measurement to fit them securely against the walls. A chalk line is handy to use for making sure the mounting blocks are even. Use heavy-duty wall anchors, or mollies, if you need more mounting blocks than you have studs in the ceiling.

Warning

Plastic-foam beams will eventually need cleaning, and if they are gouged in the process, it is very difficult to fix them. If you glue the beams on a heavily textured or "popcorn" ceiling, it will not provide a secure hold. Remove all texturing from the area where the glue will touch the ceiling.

Things You'll Need

  • Beam material
  • Ladder
  • Tape measure
  • Painter's tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Stud finder
  • Construction adhesive
  • Screws
  • Rag
  • Saw
  • Wood blocks
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About the Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.