HOW TO INSTALL WOOD BEAMS ON A CEILING - DIY

install wood beams
January 2, 2020

Wood beams can transform a ceiling and a room, adding warmth, character, and ambiance to the space. In most instances, they are not used for support and can be installed by the homeowner. This is particularly true for faux beams, which are made up of three or four pieces of wood to create an empty “box” on the ceiling, which can be lighter and able to conceal wires or pipes.

If you’re considering installing your own wood beams, make sure that you know your comfort level, and that you call a professional for help if necessary. Wood beams can be installed within a few hours to days and can give your ceiling a fresh new look in no time.

Gather Materials

Regardless of whether you are installing antique beams or faux beams, you will need to make sure that you have the right tools on hand for the job: 

  • Measuring tape

  • Circular saw

  • Chalk line

  • Wood glue

  • Ladder or scaffolding

  • 2x4 “nailers”

  • Finish nails

  • Hammer or nail gun

  • Brackets

Preparation

rustic wood beams

Wood beams need to acclimate to the temperature and relative humidity of the room where they will be installed in order to get the best results. This means making sure that the room has a consistent temperature and humidity level for 6 - 7 days leading up to the installation. The beams should be left in the room they will be installed in for roughly 72 hours prior to installation to give them a chance to acclimate properly.

In addition to making sure that the beams are ready, you should also make sure that your ceiling is able to support the beams. Check for ceiling studs or add a frame if necessary. Measure the ceiling and create the desired pattern for the beams. 

Installation

wood beams

If you are installing faux beams, they will need to be assembled prior to installing them on the ceiling: 

  1. Identify the different pieces of the beams; they should be labeled for easy assembly.

  2. Measure and mark any pieces that will need to be cut to fit the ceiling.

  3. Make cuts on a circular saw, and double-check that all pieces that will make up a beam have been cut to the same size.

  4. Place the first piece of wood on your assembly table and run a bead of wood glue along the edge where it will interlock with the next piece.

  5. Insert the next piece (or pieces) and make sure that they fit snugly into their joints.

  6. Wipe away any excess glue that may have come out of the joints. 

  7. If desired, use finish nails to secure the pieces of the box beam to one another. 

  8. Repeat for the remaining beams.

  9. Leave enough time for the glue to dry before you begin installation.

Once you have the beams ready, take the time to prepare the ceiling: 

  1. Measure and mark the ceiling where you intend to install the beams. 

  2. Stretch a chalk line across the ceiling and snap it to keep lines even and to mark the necessary grids. 

  3. Install “nailers” on the ceiling to make installing the faux beams easier. Nailers are thin strips of wood that the beam will fit over snugly. They’re easily nailed to the ceiling joists, and will allow you to install the faux beam over them securely, without needing to use bolts. Follow the pattern you marked out to attach the nailers to the ceiling.

  4. Install the faux beams by sliding them over the nailers, and securing them temporarily with a bracket. 

  5. Nail the edges of the faux beams directly into the nailers to secure them, and remove the brackets. 

Tips for Better Installation

ceiling wood beams

Always test any sandpaper, wire brushing, or other cuts or materials on an unseen area to test its appearance. 

Never directly attach the beams to drywall or ceiling plaster; always make sure there is a joist that can support the beam. 

Make sure you can safely lift and support the beams while they are being nailed into place. Use help as needed.

Enlist the help of a professional for solid wood beams, which will require the use of lag bolts and potentially additional ceiling support to install. 

Install Your Own Beams

Wood beams are beautiful and timeless, and they add a lot of character and personality to any room. They’re also fairly easy to install for a capable homeowner who feels comfortable assembling and lifting the beams. Follow these steps to install your beams, and transform the look of any room in your home.