How do I build fake wood beams?

Updated February 21, 2017

Exposed wood beams add a rustic look to a room, but also are heavy and difficult to install. Fake wood beams give the appearance of real wood, yet you can make and add them yourself. Build them of planed wood, add decorative mouldings and paint them for a more sophisticated appearance. Or make them of roughly sewn wood and stain them for an informal country look.

Measure the length of the ceiling with a tape measure at the location at which you will install the first beam. Saw a 2.5 by 15 cm (1 by 6 inch) board 6 mm (1/4 inch) shorter than the length of the ceiling, so you'll have space to slip it in place. Mark the cut using a carpenter's square and use a circular saw or hand saw to cut it. This board will fasten to the ceiling and hold the fake beam in place.

Locate the studs in the ceiling with a stud finder. Measure their spacing at which you'll be installing the beam, and mark the same measurements down the middle of the board.

Drill a pilot hole for a 5 cm (2 inch) screw at each of the marks.

Install the board flat against the ceiling by screwing a 5 cm (2 inch) screw through the pilot hole into each stud.

Saw a 2.5 cm by 15 cm (1 by 6 inch) board and two 2.5 by 20 cm (1 by 8 inch) boards the same length as the first board.

Spread carpenter's glue on the edges of the 15 cm (6 inch) wide board and lay it flat on the floor or a work table. Nail the eight-inch-wide boards to the edges with 6.2 cm (2 1/2 inch) finishing nails spaced every foot -- so that the three boards form a trough for the three sides of the hollow fake beam. Check the sides with a square to make sure they are at right angles. Let the glue dry.

Finish the fake beam in your preferred style before installing it.

Lift the fake beam up against the ceiling so the board you attached earlier fits between the sides. Nail the beam in place by hammering 6.2 (2 1/2 inch) finishing nails through the vertical boards and into the edges of the board that's attached to the ceiling. Touch up the finish over the nail heads if you want.

Build and install the other beams the same way.


Start the finishing nails into the first board while you have it resting against a convenient solid surface, then place it in position and finish hammering in the nails. Make the fake beams any size you want by choosing a different width for the boards.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • 2.5 by 15 cm (1 by 6 inch) boards
  • Carpenter's square
  • Circular saw or hand saw
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • 5 cm (2 inch) screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Two boards, 2.5 by 20 cm (1 by 8 inch)
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Paint or stain
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About the Author

David Thompson began writing for eHow in 2009. He has written how-to articles on home improvement, carpentry, cabinet making and gardening.