Who doesn’t love wood beams? They add character and interest and an architectural element with universal appeal. For those of us not blessed with the real deal in our homes, I found an amazing solution that you can DIY!
This has been a 5 year dream of mine. That’s approximately how long we’ve lived in this house with it’s amazing 20 foot ceilings that I love but looked very bland. I saw it as a missed opportunity, it was screaming at me to do something with it! I always wanted beams but I’m a purist at heart so I really wanted real beams, as in thousands of pounds and need 20 men to install. I was holding out hoping one day that would be the case. It wasn’t that I was opposed to faux but I hadn’t seen any that actually looked real and I wasn’t about to put something up that was less than perfect. As time wore on I considered other less expensive and lighter options like painting it a fun color, wallpaper, tin tiles and pallet wood. You name it I thought about it.
Nothing seemed right, until I stumbled on fauxwoodbeams.com I was googling around looking at pricing and what was now available in the faux wood beam department and I really liked what I saw here. The reviews were stellar, customer photos looked amazing and the pricing was much better than I remembered from a few years ago when I looked into them. (no affiliation) We opted for 5 of the rustic beams, which have that rough hand hewn old look, unstained at the 7 x 6 3/8 x 192 size. We spent considerable time figuring out placement, how many we wanted considering the large size of our ceiling (24 ft wide in 2 places). I also ordered 4 rustic straps for the seams we would have and to add extra character. (they have other straps available)
Delivery was easy and their customer service was great when I had a question for them. They arrived very well packaged and with no damage at all! Of course we immediately opened them and were already super excited when we saw them, they are made from the molds of actual beams so all of the nooks and crannies and cracks and knots are all there.
Next up was staining them. We have a dark honey colored stain on our doors and trim in the house but we have dark gray stained kitchen cabinets. I wanted a color that would have elements of both in it, to do this we bought a few colors and I played around with them. I ended up using minwax honey (darker than you think it would be on the beams) and mixed it equal parts with minwax classic gray. It looks darker than the trim but warmer than the kitchen.
I used a sponge brush to apply the stain as the point on the end helps to get in all those crevices. It took me an hour for each beam. Be careful with dripping and pooling! We let them sit and dry for 36 hours.
(Bad lighting on this one, I used my phone, but I wanted you to see how we set up the scaffolding to access the ceiling)
We rented scaffolding from a local tool rental store, 3 sections at 5-6 feet each section. It took us a little while to figure out how to assemble it all, particularly at the higher levels but once we figured it out it was no biggie. Now since my hubby has discovered he’s got a serious height phobia I climbed up there and we began installing beam number one. We followed the directions exactly as described in their written and video tutorials on their website.
Hubs cut several 2×4 blocks of 5″ across, which our beam will secure to once on the ceiling, predilled a hole and began a screw into it. Then passed them up to me where I measured out 18 inches from our outer wall and made a pencil mark on the ceiling (did this along several feet on the ceiling and did a chalk line) to act as a guide as to where to put the end of my 2×4 blocks. Then I used a stud finder to locate a stud, once I located one I screwed the block to the ceiling being careful to keep it lined up next to my line. After I placed each block I put a piece of painters tape on either side of it a couple of inches out so that once the beam was up I knew where the blocks were and where to put my screws. Once I got the first block up I measured 4 ft down, located a stud and placed another. This was the process for putting the blocks up. Once all of the blocks were up for the first beam we lifted the beam up to me where we did a dry fit to make sure everything was lined up right and that it would fit nicely over the blocks. After that we put our liquid nails along the edges fit it back up to the ceiling and screwed into the blocks from outside of the beams. We had to cut some of the beams to fit for the length of our room which was so easy.
I measured the size piece we needed exactly on the ceiling and the hubs used a regular old hand saw to cut just a smidge over that measurement (we wanted to be sure we had a tight fit), then a light sanding and I would try it. You can always sand a little more or take a bit more off but you can’t put it back if it’s too short.
Once I got the second piece up I attached the so realistic it’s ridiculous rustic straps where the seam was with some small black screws and voila! You have a beam! This process took us approximately 2 hours per beam, a little less once we got rolling and of course we paused for dinner.
Repeat for the other 3 beams, which we spaced 9 and a half feet apart, and you have 4 amazing, so real you can’t believe it’s faux, beams! Sure my neck, back, shoulders and legs are killing me today but SO worth it!! I highly recommend these. They are totally DIY friendly (if you don’t include the height factor but that’s just my ceiling’s fault), and easy with amazing results. We started around 3:30 in the afternoon and were completely finished around 11:30pm. But we also had to disassemble and reassemble half of the scaffolding around our catwalk to finish the last one in the entry so that took some time.
If you are thinking about beams and want some don’t hesitate to check these out, I would absolutely do this again! Yay for beams and character and architectural elements!