Is it just me, or does everyone look at the ceiling when they enter a new room? I never miss the ceiling details and if you’re looking for a place to start remodeling, I think you should take it from the top!
False beams are a super detail that can be done in most homes. Sometimes called “boxed beams” these are usually not “structural”, meaning they don’t hold anything up; they’re for looks! And they do look good!
It’s pretty common to see these beams done as shown in these photos. The construction consists of four main components:
- Framing Lumber (not seen)
- “1-by” Side boards
- Crown Molding
- Another 1-by on the bottom
Sometimes, as in the picture at the top, you’ll see these beams “supported” by columns. While often not needed to hold up the roof, the columns look great and add room definition.
There are times when both the beams and columns are structural, so know for sure before you ever take something that looks like this out!
Construction of false beams is fairly simple. I’ve done a quick drawing to show you the parts involved and how they are arranged. Take a look:
Notice that I didn’t show anything about attachment. There are any number of methods for attaching the various parts. If I were doing this job, I would use an air nailer and trim nails, along with a good quality wood glue.
The attachment to the ceiling, on the other hand, is important. It might be helpful for me to tell you at this point that the top 2×4 has to be attached to the ceiling before the beam is built! There are a few ways to do this:
Attach the 2×4 to solid framing in the attic using lag bolts or large screws.
Add some blocking or “dead-wood” in the attic for this purpose if none is present.
Use large toggle bolts. Just be sure to use a sufficient number to carry the weight of your beam!
DO NOT rely on drywall anchors designed for use in a wall such as plastic expansion anchors or EZ-Anchors. You don’t want this hitting you in the noggin!
Add some v-joint material to cover the ceiling (or use bead board) and you can really kick it up!
Use graph paper and draw out your room to scale so you can mess around with alternative beam arrangements. I prefer symmetry rather than the look in the picture above…but I guess I could live with this kitchen anyway!
Important note: The drawing I did is just one way to do this. The wider your beam gets (notice that the beams in the picture are wide) the less sense it will make to use a solid 2-by along the bottom edge of the beam. You can build up the frame of these things pretty much however you want to, just keep them straight and square and be sure it’s all attached well to the ceiling!
Difficulty: Moderate – While not a project for a complete beginner, this really isn’t that complex. This is especially true if you are going to paint your work, because goof-ups can be covered-up! You’ll need some good tools and ladders!
Time Frame: Short – An average Kitchen could be done in about 40 hours with two people working. This would include the painting time involved. You should at least prime the material before you put it up to reduce overhead paint work.
Cost Range: Medium – A job like this requires no structural work, no drywall work, and only requires painting of the material you’re installing. As such the cost can be well contained. That said, it depends on who you hire or if you DIY it! The materials involved for an average kitchen would generally be less than $500.00
Think Inside the Box!