You can add rustic charm and a farmhouse-fresh feeling to your home by installing exposed ceiling beams.
Q: We recently visited an older home with lovely exposed ceiling beams. Is there any way to recreate this look in our own, beam-covered house?
A: Why yes, there is. Believe it or not, faux beams are a thing, effectively replicating the rustic charm of the real thing — only without supportive purposes. Don’t worry, however; nobody has to know your dirty little secret. Even better? You can install faux beams yourself in a weekend or less.
You have two options when it comes to faithfully recreating that farmhouse-fresh feeling in the bedroom, kitchen or living area. The first, and more intensive, option is to build your own beams. Sounds scary, but it isn’t.
To start, map and measure your ceiling and decide on a pattern that runs along your ceiling joists, keeping in mind potential obstacles such as lights, fans and vents. The joists will act as connective supports for your beams. Planning also helps you know how much material is needed.
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Using 4-inch screws, attach a 1-by-4-inch board to the ceiling at the joists. Create your beam or beams using one 1-by-4 and two 1-by-6 pine or whitewood boards for each beam, piecing together the U-shaped structure with wood glue and a nail gun. You can then fill the nail holes with stainable wood filler and fine tune with some sanding (make sure to remove sawdust) before distressing and staining your new beams to the desired effect.
Fit your new beams around the 1-by-4 ceiling board and nail into place. Add beam straps using pliable metal strips painted for an aged look. Then perform necessary touchups and bask in the beauty of your brand-new beams.
If you don’t have the get-up-and-go to build your beams, you’re allowed to purchase a ready-made polyurethane version of an aged-wood beam. These lightweight lookalikes are offered in many styles and tones, are molded from the real thing for authenticity, and are much easier to install than the real thing (no worry about termites, either).
To install faux beams, simply chalk mark the ceiling for placement, add wood center blocks (drilled into the joist), and fit your beam using adhesive and screws drilled into the wood blocks. Fill in the screws if warranted and enjoy.
The nice thing about either version of these wood beams is their multifaceted functionality. You can cover up unsightly piping, add depth and accentuate to virtually any degree you wish. Wood beams, whether real or reproduced, can look great in any room of the home as well, giving all types of ceilings the creative and emotional depth they deserve.
The next time you are in the mood to change up the look and feel of a certain room but don’t know where to take it, just look up — the answer may have been looming right above you the entire time.
HomeWork is written by Cameron Poague and contributing member professionals of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.