Gorgeous Faux Wood Beam

Beams add so much character. And for a small-dollar project, they are a huge payoff.

When I first walked into a model home to view the floorplan we were building, I cringed to see a dry-walled support beam splitting the dining room and living room. It was only a momentary case of the shudders though. Our home backs up to a beautiful 4.5 acres of wooded hills. And what is a home in the woods without a bit of natural architecture inside?

So I started planning a faux beam.

Because beams are expensive! Even the faux beams (made of styrofoam) would run over $400 to do that length of ceiling. After searching the internet (and again finding my inspiration on Blesser House), I got everything I needed to build my faux beam for under $30! And Lowes even ripped my board for me.

It makes me so happy.

It was quite a journey getting to the finished result though. Not because it was difficult, but because figuring out how I wanted it to look was difficult. But, I’m digressing.

Here is the finished product:

I love it. It’s so much better than the boring drywall beam there before. Here’s a closeup:


And here’s the process:

I found a piece of 4×8 ft. plywood at Lowes that had a lot of character. I made sure it was the flattest one I could find. Then I had the associate rip it into 6 in boards for me. The plywood was about $20. I purchased finishing nails to fasten the boards together, Minwax Polyshades, veneer tape, and longer nails to go through the boards and drywall into the actual beam.

A picture of the naked beam (ignore the mess!):

After bringing my raw materials home, I cut the long boards into 3 sections so I would have enough length to cover the actual beam. Then I built 3 u-shaped boxes to cover the existing beam. Since the plywood was thin, these beams are SO light. I could hold them over my head with one hand. Definite plus.

(I did have to pre-drill the nail holes.)  After I finished building the boxes, I ironed on wood-veneer tape. It’s not a necessary step, but I highly recommend it. It’s the step that gives your box a seamless look to mimic the real thing. Then it was time to stain. This is where my problems began. I bought the Minwax WITH poly in it, thinking it would be one less step. What I found out was that you have a lot less control over the depth of staining you do to a piece. I spent the next week sanding through the second layer of stain+poly to get the look I wanted.

The wood was absolutely beautiful with a single layer of stain. But, it didn’t match my house. It was very rustic. A little too rustic for the rest of the room’s design.

Here’s how beautiful it was with a single layer of stain:

I love how you can see all the details of the grain. It was gorgeous on the ceiling. I was sad to lose the detail when I had to go darker. After letting them dry, my teenage daughter and I hung them. I covered the places they met with scrap leather that matches our couches.

So, finding the perfect ratio of stain and distressing was the hardest part of this project. What I recommend is buying the stain without poly and just covering with wax, polish, or poly when you are finished.

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