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How to Install Faux Ceiling Beams

Use these step-by-step instructions to add warmth and character to your home with faux ceiling beams.

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Step 1: Measure and Create a Pattern

This step is very simple, but it will ensure you buy enough materials to complete the job. Simply take a look at your ceiling and try to map out a plan for where you would like to add your ceiling beams. The most common patterns are to run them in a grid, or to just run a few beams in parallel rows. With your pattern determined, use a tape measure to measure the courses that the beams will follow so you will know what amount of lumber to buy.

Step 2: Add Blocking to Ceiling

The faux ceiling beams will need to be nailed to something solid to support their weight. Existing ceiling joists can definitely be used, but if you have removed the ceiling to install a new one, this is a good opportunity to add “blocking” between the beams. Cut the 2” x 4” lengths with a circular saw and install them between the joists flush with the bottom of the joist. Install blocks every two feet and nail or screw them in place. This blocking will act as a nailer to ease the attaching of the faux beams to the ceiling. After the ceiling is closed with drywall, you may want to mark an “X” with a pencil at the location of each blocking to aid in the beam install.

Step 3: Construct Beams

Use 1” x 4” or 1” x 6” pine planking to create a three-sided box, essentially a “U” shaped structure by gluing and nailing the boards together. Use some cedar shims as spacers when assembling the “U”-shaped box to lift the bottom piece of the box. This will create a shadow line on the beam which will add depth once installed on the ceiling.

Continue making as many of the boxed beams as you need to complete the pattern you planned out in Step 1.

Step 4: Prepare for Finish

With the wood beams fully assembled, you will need to fill all nail holes with stainable wood filler (Image 1), and do some light sanding with a fine grit sandpaper (Image 2). Once the boards are fully prepped, be sure to thoroughly wipe the wood clean of any sawdust or debris. A dry cloth will work, but for best results use a tack cloth.

Step 5: Stain the Beams

Prior to applying the oil-based wood stain, consider applying a stain conditioner to the wood to help the stain application achieve a more uniform look. The conditioner is applied with a foam applicator and allowed to cure for 10-15 mintues before the excess is wiped off with a dry painter’s rag. The stain must be applied within two hours of the conditioner, and is done in the same fashion: apply with a foam brush (Image 1), let it cure for 10-15 minutes, then wipe of the excess (Image 2). Additional coats can be applied as necessary to achieve the desired look. Let the stained beams dry for a full 24 hours before installation.

Step 6: Measure and Mark Ceiling

After the ceiling has been closed up, you will need to mark your pattern on the ceiling. Use a chalk box to snap grid lines where your beams will be attached.

Step 7: Install Nailers

The beams will be attached to the ceiling by using a hidden 2” x 4” nailer (Image 1). The nailer is nailed or screwed directly to the ceiling following your chalk grid lines created in Step 6 (Image 2).

Step 8: Install Beams

The installation is very straightforward: Simply slip the “U”-shaped beams over the nailers installed during Step 7 (Image 1), and nail them through the sides using a finish nailer (Image 2). Any trimming of the beams for fitment can be easily done with a miter or circular saw.

Step 9: Make Final Touchups

When the install is complete, fill the nail holes with stainable wood putty and make any touchups to the the stain treatment as necessary.

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