The faux ceiling is one of the most popular ceiling styles in the world, even in tiny houses on wheels and homes flooded with beautiful natural light. How can you create faux ceiling beams on your own? How are these beams made, and what tools and materials are needed?

Last week, my brother and I replaced our dripping, antique home office ceiling with some large, faux exposed beam designs. I love the result, and I have shown you the ins and outs of faux ceiling beams so you can quickly build one for your tiny house on wheels. 

Read on to learn how to create the most beautiful faux ceiling beams using simple tools.

The Criteria

First, there are a few critical criteria that you need to meet to create authentic faux ceiling beams.

  • Look for a reasonably small size beam you can install on the ceiling without the ceiling damaging the wood. It’s effortless to overstuff your ceilings with too big beams, which can make the wood appear thin.
  • Place your beam on an existing ceiling joist because this will allow you to align the beams with the joists and the top of the walls, ensuring no gaps between the beams and the joists. If the beams aren’t going to be supported by the ceiling joist, ensure they are perfectly aligned with each other because this will allow you to align the beams with the joists and the top of the walls, ensuring there are no gaps between the beams and the joists. 
  • If the ceiling joist supports the beams, ensure they are perfectly aligned. Avoid those fake beams that look like angled pieces of wood. These beams are usually unsafe, and you must fix the top when you walk in or out of the room. The solution is to flush your faux beam with the ceiling and have a pretty seamless grain.

    Building your faux ceiling beams

    To begin, here is the list of things you need to build faux ceiling beams. 

    1. 3/4″ x 2 1/2″ (or 2’ x 4’) wood strips (2 boards for short beams and 3 for longer)
    2. Rectangular cutting board (best for regular lumber and some joists)
    3. Metal “saw” (tungsten carbide is what I recommend for steel framing)
    4. Flat, wooden measuring tape
    5. Super Glue gun, or (1) automotive sun sticker
    6. Hammer and nails

    How to build faux ceiling beams in five easy steps.

    Step One 

    First, measure the length of the beams you want to create, then cut them in half with a saw.

    Step Two

    Slide your three pieces of wood on the metal saw (if you’re using the tungsten carbide) and cut away the excess. To keep this interesting, try to turn the wood sections just a little so you can see through the metal blade.

    Then attach the three pieces of wood with a bit of super glue. The idea is to glue the wood to the cutting board so the panels will join properly and appear seamless.

    Step Three 

    Now, take the metal saw and cut along the length of the three pieces of wood, making two “v” cuts on each side of the wood. Ensure you leave about 1/2″ on each cut side (this helps secure the wood to the cutting board), flip your pieces over, and glue them to the bottom of your faux beams.

    Step Four 

    To glue the bottom of the beam together, slide the three pieces of wood up onto the face of the bottom piece, fold the end of the shaft into the middle, and then glue it down.

    Step Five 

    To glue your beam to the ceiling joists, trim a 2’ X 4’ as you slide it into position. Then add the “V” cross beams to the top of the rafter and then glue them down to the bottom of the beam pillar.

    The first thing to remember when choosing the material for your faux ceiling beams is to keep the grain completely clean! If your rafter isn’t clear of debris, you can’t see the beautifully intricate and unique grain you want to incorporate into your design. So, the way to find the perfect faux ceiling beams is to:

    • Purchase your faux ceiling beams from a local metal supplier that carries your particular species of wood (e.g., poplar wood is much different than oak wood)
    • Shop at the local hardware store for the hardware and screws
    • Build the beam once you find the perfect size and shape. This part is vital!

      Steps to make a beam

      To make your beams, take a piece of flat metal and trace it around the top part of the beam using the method shown below:

      • Place a piece of double-sided tape over the existing beam
      • Take a piece of raw 2X4 lumber (or 1X4) and fit it between the existing beam and the sheet metal. Then check the exact fit of the two components. 
      • It’s important to remember that this is the first step, so it’s crucial to measure and inspect your beam for straightness and angles, making sure it fits in with the arches of your window frame and ceiling joists. It’s also vital to make sure your metal and wood are both clean (see step 4).
      • Make sure everything is level and square – try to ensure the wood doesn’t have any wobble when you press it down.

      Once you are satisfied with your beam, lay it over the sheet metal and secure it in place to attach the hinges on the other side of the beam. Make sure everything is square and level, then topcoat with a sealer if you have one. Finally, you can check your final beam for any signs of cracks or warping and sand it down to perfection.