How to make faux beams from foam insulation pieces

Written by alex smith
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How to make faux beams from foam insulation pieces
Wood beams can be simulated with foam board. (covered walkway image by Chris Lofty from

Exposed wood beams along a ceiling can add a beautiful charm to a room. The cost of installing real beams is prohibitive, and may even require a remodelling permit in some areas due to their load on the house's frame. Instead of using the real thing, you can create faux beams out of foam insulation sheets. These sheets are 4-by-8 feet, and just a few of them can create enough beams for the entire room.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Insulation sheets
  • Saw
  • Tape measure
  • Foam glue
  • Dog brush
  • Nail
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Newspaper
  • Wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Ladders

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  1. 1

    Cut the insulation sheets into boards. The thickness of the individual boards should match the distance you want them to extend down from the ceiling.

  2. 2

    Glue the boards together with foam glue. You can do this in one of two ways:

    1) Glue several boards together into a solid beam. This will be much more resistant to damage, but requires more foam.

    2) Glue three boards together into the base and sides of a beam, leaving the beam itself hollow. This uses less foam but is more susceptible to damage.

  3. 3

    Allow the glue to completely dry.

  4. 4

    Drag a wire dog brush against the foam beams to add a grain texture. You can also use a nail to carve in knots and other imperfections. For the appearance of an older beam, tear out entire chunks of foam along the corners.

    The more irregular your wood grain pattern is, the more realistic it will look.

    How to make faux beams from foam insulation pieces
    You are simulating the appearance of wood grain. (Wood pattern and knots image by Lucid_Exposure from
  5. 5

    Paint the beams dark brown with acrylic paint. Allow the paint to dry. This will fill in the deeper areas when the painting is finished.

  6. 6

    Dry brush a lighter wood colour onto the beams for highlight. To do this, dip the brush into paint, then wipe most of it back off onto a newspaper. Drag the brush across the beam, perpendicular to the grain. The paint will only go onto the raised surfaces, leaving the carved-in detail dark.

  7. 7

    Have a few helpers hold each beam in place along the ceiling as you screw them in place. Use three-inch wood screws, inserted at the top edge of the beam at a 45-degree angle, going through the foam and into the ceiling.

    Use one screw every foot for solid beams, and every two feet for hollow ones.

  8. 8

    Paint the screw heads to match the beam.

Tips and warnings

  • If the foam is not long enough to stretch from wall to wall, create two beam halves that meet in the middle.

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