Learn how to transform inexpensive, lightweight boards into elegant wood beams that look just like reclaimed timber.

By Jessica Bennett
Updated March 08, 2020
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Wood ceiling beams are a highly sought-after home feature, adding architectural charm and a subtle rustic touch to any space. However, not all homes are built with decorative ceiling beams in place. If you live in a builder-grade home with lackluster ceilings, you can fake the look with our easy tutorial. This project uses inexpensive whitewood boards held together with wood glue and nails. When stained, these DIY beams look just like reclaimed wood. Line your ceiling with beams to instantly add character and farmhouse style. Follow these instructions from Jenna Diermann of Jenna Sue Design Co. on how to make rustic wood beams in just three easy steps.

Credit: Paul Dyer

What You Need

  • 1×4 whitewood boards
  • 1×6 whitewood boards
  • 4-inch screws
  • Drill
  • Wood glue
  • Nails
  • Nail gun
  • Wood filler
  • Wood stain
  • Beam straps, made from pliable metal strips found at home improvement stores
  • Spray paint
Credit: Courtesy of Jenna Diermann

Step 1: Lay the Groundwork

Before adding wood beams to the ceiling, you need to determine their placement. Examine your ceiling to identify joists, lights, and other obstructions you'll need to work around. Once you've decided on the layout, screw 1×4 boards across the length of your ceiling. These will act as your guide. Attach the boards at the joists with 4-inch screws.

Credit: Courtesy of Jenna Diermann

Step 2: Make Ceiling Beams

Construct a simple 3-sided box from one 1×4 and two 1×6 whitewood boards using wood glue and a nail gun. Fill in nail holes with wood filler, then distress and stain the box for a rustic look. Repeat until you have enough boxes to span the length of your ceiling. These boxes will be your ceiling beams. Slide the boxes around the 1×4 ceiling board, and secure in place by nailing through the beam into the board.

Credit: Courtesy of Jenna Diermann

Step 3: Cover the Seams

Create beam straps out of pliable metal strips found at home improvement stores to cover the seams in between boards. Spray paint them before installing to create the look of oil-rubbed bronze. Slide the strap over the beam and screw into place.


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