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How to install ceiling beams

Ceiling Beams at your home

ceiling beams

Building a home from the ground up means you have a blank slate to infuse with character —whether by way of art, furniture, or finishes. If you’re looking to give your home a historic feel with a rustic touch, use reclaimed wood beams to mimic structural beams on the ceiling. Wait, how? “The first thing to think about is where you want to use them, and what impact you want to try to achieve,” designer James Huniford says. Reclaimed ceiling beams can add warmth and character, yes, but they can also help define a room, and even create a backdrop to hang art on—especially contemporary art, which will create a nice contrast with the beams’ timeworn finish.

How to install  ceiling beams

Before the beams are installed, they need to be prepped. If you need to run any sprinkler or HVAC lines through the beams, or have them resized, your source or contractor will need to manufacture them before installation, says Mark Dobbin, president of Highline Construction Group. “When done correctly, you will never know if they are true solid beams or remanufactured,” he says. Solid beams need to be redried to kill any insects that may be living in the wood, and, depending on the look you’re going for, they can also be hand-hewn and further textured or smoothed.


Once your beams are prepped and ready to adhere, they will essentially be mounted directly to the ceiling joists. “Normally, we embed steel anchors into [the] substructure and blind fasten them through the metal tabs to the substructure,” Dobbin explains.


How long does it take?

As with most home projects, it depends on how big your home is and what you’re trying to accomplish with the beams. “It varies with design, but between a half-hour and 1.5 hours per linear foot,” Dobbin says.

How much does it cost?

Again, it’ll depend on your specific home, the design, and the price of materials and labor where you live. “High-quality beam stock in white oak is now running about $15 per board foot. But you also have to factor in drying, manufacturing, engineering, finish, and installation costs. “For example, a remanufactured beam that’s 10 feet by 12 inches will be about $300 to $350 per a linear foot,” he says.

If you’re serious about adding reclaimed ceiling beams to your home, it might be smart to do it sooner rather than later. Dobbin predicts that at some point, in 10 years or less, “there will be no more [reclaimed wood] to be had and/or the costs will be tenfold.”

Another enticing aspect of reclaimed ceiling beams? They’re all different in size, age, and types of wood. “I always try to see a sample of what they look like because they’re all varied, which I think is what makes them appealing to a lot of people,” the designer explains. Adding these to a plain room actually doesn’t add any structural value, but if carefully installed they’ll appear to have been holding up the ceiling for a century.


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