False Beams | False Beams – molding

False Beams

A detailed guide on how to build and install false beams.

There are a few other guides on how to build and install these box beams. None, however are very good. I hope you find this guide gives the knowledge you need to do it. So without further ado, let’s get to it!


Step 1: The Layout.

Determine the spacing layout for your false beams. Standing on a ladder to reach the ceiling, measure from the wall over to the desired location and make a mark with a pen or pencil where the edge of the fist finished beam will be. For a 4″ wide beam this measurement should be 22 3/4″. (Note:these measurements assume a 24″ on center beam spacing)

Next, measure over 24″ from this mark and make another mark. This will be the edge of the next beam. Continue across and repeat these steps on the wall behind you (the wall running parallel to this one).


Step 2: Snap the lines.

Grab a friend and a calk line and snap a line to connect each mark with it’s mirroring mark on the opposite wall. These lines will be the edge of your wood backing.


Step 3: Make the backing.

I know you would like to just buy some cheap 1X4 and nail it up. Wouldn’t that go up so fast! Well, I promise it won’t. You need straight boards and the cheapest way to get those is to make them out of 4X8 sheets of 3/4 or 5/8 particle board. Rip the sheet(s) into 2 1/2″ strips. Using a table saw is the easiest way, but you can also use an 8ft straight edge and a circular saw. Make three extra pieces for building an assembly jig later. Alternatively, you can buy 2 1/2″ wide MDF at Lowes or Home Depot.


Step 4: Install the backing.

With a friend, carefully apply a bead of construction adhesive to the backing strip and attach it to the ceiling with a finish nail gun. Make sure the correct edge is touching the line you just made with a chalk line! Nail every foot or so with two nails driven at an angle. By angling the nails, the board will not pull away from the ceiling. Repeat the process for every line. Allow the construction adhesive to set over night.


Step 5: Rip the beam assembly.

Set up your table saw and make the bottom piece for all the beams. Rip a 45 degree angle on both sides, making sure that the space between the short point of the miters is at least 2 9/16″. This will give you a bit of wiggle room. Next, make the side pieces for all the beams. Rip a 45 degree angle one side only. You should have twice as many side pieces as bottom pieces.


Step 6: Build the beam assembly jig.

Carefully attach three of the backing strips together in a “U” shape using only 6 or 8 evenly spaced screws. Pre-drilling is absolutely necessary by the way.


Step 7: Build the beams.

Your newly built jig acts like a horse with the false beam becoming a saddle. Carefully apply wood glue to one miter and pin it together with 1″ brad nails. Wipe off the excess glue and repeat for the other side. Use a router with a flush trim bit to even out miter if needed. Repeat for each beam


Step 8: Finishing your false beams.

If your decor warrants it, you may have fun distressing the wood before staining. There are many ways to do that, which you might find instruction for in the Woodwork School section to the left. Otherwise, fill the nail holes, stain, seal and get your tools together for installation.


Step 8: Installing your false beams.

Because you took so much care and did all of the previous steps so meticulously, this part will be easy.

Grab a friend and two nail guns loaded with 1 1/2″ brad nails. Take your first beam up and test fit it. If it slides over the backing easily, put a tiny bead of construction adhesive along both edges of the backing and attach by nailing every two feet into the backing. Butt the next piece into the first if your ceiling is long enough to need more than one, and repeat. Fill the holes with an oil based pre-stained putty and wipe off with a mineral spirit moistened rag and your done!

If you are buying already made false beams, here is a video guide to installation.


Want to buy already made false beams? Click here.

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