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How To Choose Ceiling Beams

How To Choose Ceiling Beams

Posted by Rick R on Jul 2 2022

Ceiling beams add dimension to a room. Some evoke the feeling of 18th- and 19th-century homes, barns, and other structures with hand-hewn and rough-sawn beams. In these times, upper floors and roofs needed these beams to remain structurally sound. From cottages to castles, exposed wood beams were the norm. And as a result, old-growth oak forests were heavily depleted.

Lightweight faux wood designs mimic these historic building materials but with less materials needed to construct them. For example, polyurethane ceiling beams reduce wood usage, and therefore, reduce waste.

If the ceiling beams are the look you’re seeking, we implore you to keep reading.

You could add ceiling beams to a new home, an existing room, or an addition. In many rooms, architects and homeowners use ceiling beams to elevate the look of living rooms, family rooms, country-style kitchens, entertainment rooms, and master bedrooms.

We hope you will follow this guide to create a design you love. Preparing for a ceiling beam installation involves several steps; consider styles, sizes, and colors. You'll want to balance beam size and spacing. Add brackets, straps, and/or plates to your ceiling beam installation. There is so much room to find your “look”.

Beam Style

Ceiling beam designs are endless. Solid, boxed-in, and hollow-core options are just a few of the available options. If you’re building on a budget, we should note that polyurethane beams mimic wood without the weight or cost.

Note About Polyurethane Beams

Polyurethane "faux wood" beams are very popular. Polyurethane beams weigh 15-20% of what solid wood beams do. Plus, they're safer, faster, and easier to install. Polyurethane ceiling beams have low shipping costs due to the low-weight.

Authenticity

Why do rustic beams look so real? Craftsmen make molds from knotted, distressed, or weathered boards. When the liquid resin is poured into a mold, it fills knots and flaws. The beam's surface is textured when the resin hardens. Fire retardant can be added to polyurethane beams' liquid resin. To achieve the desired fire rating, beams can be coated with a fire retardant.

As with other building materials, choose durable ceiling beams. Faux wood beams' high-density polyurethane resists damage. High-density polyurethane is chip, stain, and insect-resistant. Humidity changes cause wood to split, crack, and warp.

Polyurethane ceiling beams are an affordable way to add visual appeal. Who doesn’t want your property value to rise, easily?

Polyurethane beams can also be custom-milled. It’s never a bad idea to match crown molding and other millwork to your new ceiling beams.

Flexible design

Rustic-looking polyurethane beams complement stone and brick fireplaces. Consider coordinating your beams with the wood, slate, and flooring. Do you have modern furnishings? Rustic-looking ceiling beams may not be a good fit. Rustic beams starkly contrast with homeowners' modern furnishings.

Hide Those Eye-Sores With Ceiling Beams!

Three-sided polyurethane beams are a fantastic option to hide lighting and surround-sound wiring. Beams can be used to hide sprinkler pipes. Polyurethane beams can be trimmed for unusual ceiling layouts or obstructions so you can craft them to hide what needs hidden. But This should be done by a professional with handsaws, circular saws, and table saws cut the beams for you.

Remodel

So many renovations use lightweight polyurethane beams. Mostly due to the fact that lightweight polyurethane beams offer designers and homeowners numerous sizes and options to choose from.

Custom millwork is essentially required for historic interior remodels. Solid wood beams in older buildings may require expensive structural support and a structural engineer to verify their integrity before work begins.

Wood

Solid wood beams are authentic but pricey. Solid wood beams often require structural work and analysis. This must be done before a remodel or addition. An engineer must often calculate beam sizes and their ability to bear weight.

Heavy beams take time to move safely. Some heavy beams even require a crane. For safe, code-compliant support, solid wood beams need heavy-duty steel straps, hangers, and plates. Because of these and other factors, labor costs tend to be high.

Reclaimed wood

Beams from old barns and homes can also be used, despite their weight. Important note: old, salvaged wood beams are heavy, expensive, and often warped or insect-damaged. Even when old beams can be saved, cleaning and preparation are costly.

Crate wood

Boxed beams are an option and are typically made from three wood pieces. Labor costs are a factor because carpenters must make the beam before installing it. Boxed-in beams can be crafted from many types of wood. Options include rough-sawn softwood, hardwoods, and weathered barn wood.

Obstructions

In existing homes, ceiling obstructions can prevent beam installation. A beam shouldn't be too close to ceiling protrusions for aesthetic reasons. Lights and sprinklers guide beam placement. Light fixtures and other ceiling protrusions must sometimes be repositioned.

It's also important to know where each beam touches the wall. For the beam to fit snugly against the wall, you'll need to remove a section of crown molding.

Measure and count

Advice:

  • Closer spacing, smaller beams
  • More span, bigger beams.
  • Higher ceilings require deeper, wider beams.
  • Lattice large ceilings. Combine a large center beam with smaller side beams.

Choose to look and feel

When choosing ceiling beams, make some design decisions. Ask yourself:

  • Do you prefer smooth or distressed beams?
  • Do you prefer rough-sawn or rough-hewn beams?
  • Do you want matching beams or dramatic contrast?

Color Pick

Polyurethane beams come pre-finished or unfinished. Unfinished beams are best for a specific color. Stain them to taste. Polyurethane beams accept any stain color.

Choose complementary or contrasting colors. Smooth beams often match the ceiling color. Rough-hewn and rough-sawn beams are darkened to contrast with light ceilings. Darker beams create a three-dimensional effect in light-colored rooms.

Accessorize

Determine if you need accessories. Finish with brackets, plates, or straps. Pieces like these can add more detail, texture, and authenticity to the room you are crafting.

Brackets

Worthington makes decorative brackets that can fit many beam designs. Choose beam-size and style matched brackets. Choose classic, elegant, or modern. If you want, you can stain or paint unfinished brackets to match your beam. Though hand-hewn or rough-sawn beams should get rustic brackets.

Beamplates, straps, and end caps

Decorative beam plates and/or straps can add authenticity to your beam installation. Metal plates support wood installations. Smooth or hammered metal plates complement polyurethane ceiling beams. Use them where a beam meets a wall or to hide cathedral ceiling truss seams.

Ceiling beam end caps complete the look. Decorative end caps eliminate the beam-wall seam.

Beam straps add visual interest or can be used to hide seams to add to the authenticity.

Ordering Ceiling Beams

Choose a manufacturer or supplier that is:

  • Well-known
  • Known for timely delivery
  • Capable of custom millwork

Beams and accessories can unify a room's look. With attractive ceiling beam designs, you'll often get a good ROI because when selling, the right beams attract buyers. You may get a faster or better offer.

Success!

Maybe you are interested in ceiling beams for that new home of yours or maybe you're upgrading your home or building a new addition. Regardless, we hope you'll love your new ceiling beams for years to come.

So create that calming, restful sanctuary to escape the daily grind with ceiling beams.

Extra planning will pay off later. Your family, friends, and guests will love it and if you sell, you'll make a good profit.

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