How to Create a Faux Beam: Part 1 of 3

Welcome back, everyone! It’s been a dream come true to be able to share my tips and tricks with you all. Your encouraging words and positive feedback have been amazing. Thank you all so much! I’m BEAMING with excitement (see what I did there?)!

Today I’d like to teach you how to create a faux beam across your ceiling. A beam can add a ton of charm to an otherwise boring space. Since this is a multi-phase project, I’ll be writing three separate posts. This post will explain what materials you’ll need during this phase of your project and tips and tricks for picking out and cutting the wood. My second post will teach you how to bang up those beautiful boards to make them look more rustic, how to nail/glue your boards together, and what kind of stain to use. Post number three will walk  you through installing the beam and creating some cheap DIY metal brackets.

Part 1: Materials/Wood
Part 2: Banging/Nailing Together/Staining
Part 3: Installing/Finishing Touches

Here are the materials you’ll need for the entire project. I’ve highlighted the ones you’ll need for this first phase in blue:

Take a look at the photo below. I took this picture while I was standing in my kitchen (ignore the baby gate, changing table, swing, etc…having a baby sure does make it challenging to keep that HGTV feel throughout the home)!


Isn’t she the cutest little helper though?


Okay, enough shameless baby plugging. Back to this photo:


Notice that strange 2.125″ lip that our builder put throughout the house. I don’t know if this was intentional or if he made a mistake, but I always look at it and think that it looks weird. Don’t you?! Like, what is that?

My goal is to make this house look more like a rustic farmhouse so I guess it’s sort of a happy accident that our builder did that because now I get to cover it up with a beautiful, rustic beam (well…a fake beam, but nobody needs to know that except you guys)!

Most beams go across the ceiling (similar to this blog post that inspired us to do this in the first place) and are not interrupted by things like walls and door overhangs. My hope is to create a faux beam that will cover this strange strip while at the same time appearing to go right through the wall from one end of my house all the way to the other. Think it’s possible? We’ll see!

I know you’re probably half way out the door heading to Home Depot to get some wood because you’re so excited, but you need to put the keys down and go back inside and measure, measure, MEASURE! This is by far the most important step. As you can see from my incredibly high-tech sketch below, not all of the pieces that will need to be covered are the same dimensions on both sides due to jutting walls, closets/pantries, “ceiling things,” etc.


Okay, got your measurements? NOW you can go to Home Depot! Bring a buddy and a pick-up truck if you have one. The wood is long and awkward and it’s easier to do a project like this with two people.

We bought “common boards” rather than “select pine boards.” They’re cheaper and if you’re just going to stain them anyway, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure they’re all straight and not wonky and wobbly down the sides. You’re also going to whack them up to give them a “rustic” look (more on that in my next blog post)!

Here’s my husband measuring the the common boards at Home Depot.

Bring a measuring tape with you when you go to buy your wood because the boards are not uniform. If the board is supposed to be 1X6X10, for example, it’ll never ever ever be exactly that size. That’s the size it is at the lumber yard. Once it gets sanded down and made to look like the very pretty pine seen above, it loses some of its girth. Most of the supposed 6″ wide boards we looked at were actually 5.5″. That’s okay as long as you know that and you’re prepared for it. You want all your boards to be the same dimensions or else your beam may not fit the way you had hoped it would.

Here’s an infographic from that explains this concept:

Nominal vs_ Actual Board Sizes.JPG

We learned that Home Depot will not “rip” your boards for you (cut your boards length-wise). This was bad news for us because the underside of that awkward lip in our house is 4.75″ wide.

Our 6″ wide boards are actually 5.5″ meaning that we wouldn’t be able to nail the side boards directly into the awkward lip because the bottom board holding them together would be too big by 3/4″.


See how this wouldn’t fit? If we tried to fit this “C” shape up there to cover our awkward 4.75″ lip, we would have empty space on each side.

The very clever Home Depot guy helped us come up with a crafty solution! We bought 1X2x10 pieces of “strapping” to nail to our awkward strip. Since the 1″ is actually 3/4″, it SHOULD work perfectly and we’ll be able to nail into that instead of into the awkward lip to make up the difference. I know that’s confusing. Hopefully the picture below will help.


Perfect! Now the width of our awkward strip will be equal to the width of our 1×6 boards (which are actually 3/4″x5.5″ boards). Clear as mud? Great! Are you starting to see why I divided this up into three separate blogs? Geesh!

There was no need to buy strapping for the entire length of our house since we will be nailing our faux beam into it and you won’t be able to see it. Since we bought two 10 foot pieces of strapping, we cut them into 12″ strips and divided them up evenly across the length of our house.

Okay! It’s time to cut your wood with the mitre saw. Make sure you measured correctly and go ahead and make your cuts.

Our project requires some odd cuts due to the fact that we are trying to make it look like it’s cutting through various parts of our house. I’ll leave out the boring details of how we cut all our boards. Yours will be unique to your house anyway and will probably be going across your ceiling with no interruptions. Here’s an example of one of those odd cuts:


Hopefully you see what we’re trying to do! Make sure you tune in next week for my second post in this three part series which will teach you the best way to age your wood, nail it together, and stain it to get that nice, rustic feel.

Good luck!Jamie


4 thoughts on “How to Create a Faux Beam: Part 1 of 3

  1. Emily says:

    Jamie, are you wearing ear muffs in one picture?? So proud! Power tools are definitely loud and can be damaging to your hearing (even if you’re using them for a brief period of time). Your part one post is great! Can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂


  2. Katherine Getchell says:

    Great blog! I can’t wait to see the finished result! Though I have to admit, the baby picture was my favorite!


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