How to Install a Beam Into an Existing Wall Using Joist Hangers

Updated February 21, 2017

Remodelling your home starts with a design, and your design must begin with an idea. One idea is to give a room an open, cabin-like feel. This process may mean adding snap-together wooden floors and wood panelling. Another way to get that rustic look is to add ornamental beams across the ceiling. Joist hangers are small, metal brackets meant to be used to hold a piece of vertical lumber that spans long distances. These sturdy brackets will let you safely add an ornamental beam to any room.

Drag the stud finder across your wall. Make a pencil mark where the indicator light illuminates, then again where it goes out. Mark the location of two studs that are side by side. Repeat the process, finding two studs on the opposite wall, directly across from the first set.

Hold a 17 1/2 inch board up to one wall. Slide it up next to the ceiling. Be sure the outer edge of the board lines up with your outer stud marks. Use the Phillips bit on your drill to drive three screws through the board 3/4 inch from each end to attach the board firmly to the studs in your wall. Attach the second 17 1/2 inch board on the opposite wall.

Use your tape measure to find the centre of both boards. Measure between the two marks. Transfer this measurement to your 20-foot board. Cut the board to the proper length. Hold one end of the board against the centre of one of the wall-mounted boards while your assistant lines up the opposite end of the board.

Drive three of your 8d nails at an angle through the end of the beam and into the wall-mounted board. Drive three angled nails through the other side to secure your end of the board. Switch places with your assistant. Hold a large speed square against your beam and the wall-mounted board. Adjust the beam to be sure it is at a perfect 90 degrees to the wall. Toe nail the beam in place.

Slide a joist hanger up under one end of the beam so that it cradles the board. Hit the frame of the hanger to drive the retaining spikes into the wall-mounted board. Drive a Tico nail through every retaining hole in the joist hanger to secure the hanger against the beam and the wall-mounted board. Install the remaining joist hanger on the opposite end of the beam to complete the installation.


This project requires you to work on a 6-foot step ladder. Always maintain three points of contact between your body and the ladder at all times. Work gloves and safety glasses are required when using hand and power tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • 2 boards (2 inches by 12 inches by 17 1/2 inches)
  • Drill with Phillips bit
  • 3 1/2 inch galvanised screws
  • Tape measure
  • Board (2 inches by 10 inches by 20 feet)
  • Circular saw
  • 8d nails
  • Hammer
  • 12 inch speed square
  • 2 joist hangers
  • Tico nails
  • 6 foot step ladder
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
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About the Author

After learning electronics in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s, Danny Donahue spent a lifetime in the construction industry. He has worked with some of the finest construction talent in the Southeastern United States. Donahue has been a freelance writer since 2008, focusing his efforts on his beloved construction projects.