Perhaps the Easiest Way to Build & Install DIY Ceiling Beams!

It’s been a year and a half since my husband and I built and installed these DIY ceiling beams in our master bedroom, and they are holding up great!  We think they make the room feel so much cozier and give so much character.  In our case they also helped visually balance our extremely long rectangular-shaped room and helped it not to feel so awkwardly long, since the beams run perpendicular to the two very long parallel walls.  The best part about the way we built our DIY ceiling beams is that we used standard size lumber, so there was no need to rip down any wood, and we didn’t miter any edges.

Before building the DIY ceiling beams, there were a couple things I needed to do to prepare our new master  bedroom, including painting our brown ceiling white, and switching out the very dated light fixture.  We also installed an accent wall/faux headboard behind the bed to anchor the space.  For more information on that, watch my Faux Headboard / Inset Accent Wall tutorial video.

Prepping for our DIY Ceiling Beams:

  1. I measured the ceiling multiple times for accuracy.  
  2. I decided which direction beams should run.
  3. I decided how many beams would look best, and approximate thickness and depth of each beam.  It is not a one size fits all when it comes to ceiling beams, as you’ll want them to visually fit the scale of your space.  Your ceiling height will determine if shallow or deep beams (side boards) will look best, and the length of your room (perpendicular to the direction the beams will run) will determine if thick or thin beams (bottom boards) will look best. Your desired thickness and depth will determine the dimensions of the wood you should purchase. Keep in mind lumber is commonly available in 3.5”, 5.5”, 7.25”, 9.25” widths. Because our room is very long, we opted for chunky ceiling beams to better fill the scale of the room.  We used 1x8x10 boards for the top and bottom, and 1x6x10 boards for the sides (our beams are wider than they are tall, but your don’t have to be!). 
  4. We marked the ceiling with where our DIY ceiling beams would go. KEEP IN MIND that the “common” dimensions for wood are not the same as the actual dimensions… for example, a 1″x6″ is actually a  3/4″x 5.5″.  This is especially important to know when you are measuring and marking your room in order to have correct spacing between beams.  Also worth mentioning, overall symmetry in the room was very important to me when thinking through where I wanted the DIY ceiling beams to go.
  5. Then we purchased our lumber.  Think of each beam as a four-sided box.  You’ll need two sides, a top and a bottom board.  We used pine aka “common board”, which is the most affordable option as far as boards go (you could explore making beams by ripping down sheets of plywood, which may end up being slightly cheaper but would definitely be more labor-intensive).  If you go with pine boards like we did, you’ll need to spend some time making sure the boards you choose are the straightest possible boards.  Warped boards will make installing the beams impossible.
  6. I decided to make a custom stain mix for our DIY ceiling beams.  If you have wood-look flooring in the space or plan to in the future, I recommend going with a stain that has a similar tone to your floors, so you don’t end up with competing wood tones in the same space.  I spent quite a bit of time perfecting my stain mix to match our wood-look floors as best as possible.  If you are looking for a medium neutral wood stain with slightly cool undertones, check out my neutral wood stain mix recipe.

Here are the Product Links to Everything I Used:

– Common Boards (available at Home Depot or Lowe’s): (8) 1x8x10 and (8) 1x6x10 to make (4) total beams.

Drywall Screws to attach top mounting board to ceiling.

Trimhead Screws to assemble the U-Beam & to attach U-Beam to top mounting board.

Drill (how cute is this drill + toolkit?!)

Drydex Wood Filler for small drywall repair for repairing damage to the walls.

Stainable Wood Filler (optional) to fill and stain behind trimhead screws (we skipped this step).

Sander to prep the sides of the boards that will be seen.

Varathane Wood Conditioner.

– Wood Stain & Staining Pad.

– Circular Saw, miter saw (this one is a great price on a single bevel miter saw with great reviews), or some other method to cut your common board to the needed length (to fit the width of your room). We cut ours at home, but you can have Home Depot or Lowes cut your wood for you at the store — you just need to know EXACTLY the length you need your wood cut to beforehand.  

Multi-Tool (for removing sections of crown molding, if you have crown).

How We Built & Installed our DIY Ceiling Beams:

  1. We have crown molding in the room, so I carved out just those sections of crown where our beams would be using a multi-tool.
  2. I cut all of our wood boards to length. Note: each beam may need to be a slightly different length because ceilings are not perfectly square. It’s good to re-measure the areas that you pre-determined each beam will go before you cut your lumber to ensure you won’t cut them too short.
  3. I sanded the sides of the boards that would be visible. Tip: now is a good time to pre-determine which sides of the boards you think are the prettiest.
  4. I wood conditioned and stained the sides of the boards that would be visible.
  5. We assembled 3 of the 4 sides that make up each box beam to make a U-shape (3-sided box).  These are the stained portions of the beam that you will see (side and bottom boards).
  6. On the U-shaped beam, we pre-drilled the top of each side board with our trimhead screws so they were already in the wood, ready to easily be screwed into the ceiling board.  Tip: use a piece of scrap wood as a jig to make sure you are not screwing in the screws too high or too low.  
  7. We installed the ceiling boards in the center of each of the ceiling marks that we made previously.  We used many drywall screws at alternating angles to do this, and for us that was enough peace of mind that the ceiling boards would be secure enough to hold the weight of the beam.  If you are concerned about safety, you should also use a stud finder to check for a joist for peace of mind that the ceiling board is securely screwed into a joist.
  8. Optional: make small L-brackets out of scrap wood, and then install them onto the ends of the ceiling boards and into the side walls using drywall screws for added peace of mind.  We did do this.
  9. We them installed the U-beams onto the ceiling boards.  This is at least a two-man job.  In our case my husband and I both lifted the U-shaped beam up and around the ceiling board, and at the same time one of us also screwed in the pre-drilled trimhead screws from the sides of the U-beam into the sides of the ceiling board.
  10. I repaired the few spots of damaged drywall we had with Drydex and touch up paint.
  11. We considered whether we would wood fill the trimhead screw holes with stainable wood filler and touch up those spots with stain, or not.  We ultimately decided not to as our ceiling is high enough to where the screw holes aren’t very noticeable. 

If you decide to try this project for yourself, I want to see! Tag me on IG @AmandaFallonHomes in your project pictures!

You can also watch my DIY Ceiling Beams video tutorial below: