How to Make a Faux Beam with Wood - for Less Than $20!

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by Robin

how to make a faux beam

We're finally making over our bunkie! We figured our how to make a faux beam from real wood and it cost us less than $20 to make.  A faux wood beam can be a lovely accent to a cottage or cabin ceiling and the tutorial is quite simple. 

We also added the gorgeous fan you see above - can you believe it can be used both indoors and outdoors?! It's so good looking and gives a perfect breeze to the bed below.   Affordable, too.)

Building a fake beam can be a great project for beginners!  We've got the full tutorial below - plus some updates about our Mobile Home Makeover.

First, Some Mobile Home Makeover Updates...

Like all of the projects in our Mobile Home Makeover - there were a dozen awful things we needed to do before we could get to the fun pretty stuff.  The makeover of our rustic log bunkie was like all the rest: years of neglect and poor workmanship led to a long list of horrible surprises.

Our first "quick and easy" upgrade to the bunkie was covering the plywood floors with the same laminate that we love and laid inside the mobile home.  Notice the quotes around "quick and easy"?

This project should have taken two hours tops.  Well, the previous owners saw to it that it should take days instead. Water damage and rodents were hidden instead of taken care of.  We needed to tear up most of the subfloor, replace some rotted joists, add downspouts and seal a bunch of mouse entry points.

This ceiling was no different than the floor: more water damage and more rodents.  (Here's our Rodent Proofing Guide - we've learned tons about how to get rid of mice!)

In our sweet naivete, we thought we'd simply cover the plywood ceiling with plywood shiplap (similar to what we did here) and build a faux wood beam and take photos for you to enjoy!

Nope.  After closer inspection, the spreading stain on the ceiling told us we had squatters we needed to evict and repairs we needed to make.

covering plywood ceiling
If you can look past the menacing man, you can see the ceiling before. Basically plywood damp with rodent urine.  Blech.
What to wear when pulling down poop filled ceiling: Ed's sporting long sleeves, eye protection, mask, gloves, hood. 
Intimidating stance is entirely optional.

We needed to put in a few days work to pull down the poop insulated ceiling (what R-value does vermin poop have?) and seal the leaks.  Then we insulated with something less - organic.  Sigh.

But with that nonsense taken care of, we got to the pretty stuff!

preparing ceiling for shiplap
This is the clean and insulated ceiling.  Before adding the styrofoam we scrubbed and primed the worst of the areas.

After this we added a very simple DIY shiplap ceiling (that tutorial is here.)

How to Make a Faux Beam

What you need to build a wood faux beam...

How to...

1) Select the right wood

materials for how to make a faux beam
Buy some rough pine 1"x6"x8' lumber - the rougher the better.
All the coolest looking spots on the beam were from ugly boards. They still need to be straight and you'll need 3, so pick carefully.
If you need a run longer than 8-feet, you'll be joining some together.

2) Cut the mitred edges

cutting wood how to make a faux beam
Tilt your table saw blade to a 45-degree angle and cut both sides of the middle part of your beam. The left and right sections only need one side cut at a 45. 

Don't have a table saw? You can achieve these cuts with a circular saw where you can angle the blade to 45. You will need a very steady hand - a circular saw cutting guide would help a lot - but it's doable. 

Can you do with without the 45 degree cut? Totally. Your seam will show more and people will be less likely to believe it is a solid beam, but work with the tools you have.

how to make faux beam cutting wood
This is a two-person job, for sure. Use any fences/guides at your disposal to try and get the boards mitered as consistently as possible.

3) Build the faux beam box

how to make a faux beam wood build
We cut several pieces of blocking to go inside the beam and reinforce the sides. We just used scrap wood and spaced it evenly along the beam. Glue and Nail.

how to make faux beam from wood
We used a nailer to help assembly go quickly, but it was still pretty easy. Have a look at all the seams and try and clamp/nail them closed wherever possible. 
Use a damp paper towel to wipe up any wood glue that squeezes out.

4) Finish the faux beam edges 

edges of faux wood beam
The mitered edges were a little too crisp and sharp for the 'hand-hewn' look we wanted. I used a block plane to round things over a bit, which has the added benefit of looking really cool in photos and making you feel like a pioneer.

5) Make the faux beam look like reclaimed wood

how to make faux beam wood finish
Finally, do this awesome wood antiquing/ ageing treatment. The one difference for this beam, vs the floating wood vanity in the tutorial, is that you want your beam to be rough, not sanded smooth. The rougher your beam is first the better the treatment will swell and darken.

6) Install the faux beam

how to make faux beam install
Next, prepare the area you will be mounting the beam to. It isn't structural, but you want to make it nice and secure so it looks solid and, you know, is strong enough to hang a fan on. We added a piece of 2x4 to the rough lumber on our ceiling to create a secure attachment point.

installing wood faux beam
If you have to do any coaxing or fitting to get your beam in place, use a block of wood to hammer on. The antiquing reclaimed wood stain finish is only skin deep and any damage you do will reveal that is just fresh 1x6's from Home Depot.

We've got more projects from our Mobile Home Makeover for you to enjoy!  Check them - and the story behind this unique property - out here.
For all of our budget DIY tutorials, Click here.


  1. That came out really nice. (We are in 'the middle' of evicting rodent tenants in our bunkie, too. My husband has pulled down half of the ceiling insulation but the other half has been put off for fun summer activities)
    I'm looking forward to see the rest of your bunkie. That fan is awesome, btw

    1. Thank you!!!
      I've never had to deal with rodents until we got this place! Yuck. They're such a pain. We even needed to open up walls in the mobile home to stop them. But two years now and we're mouse free in there! Hoping we did well on the bunkie evictions.

  2. Enjoyed reading about your faux wooden beam project. Did exactly the same construction details but distressed the beams further! "Imagination is the only limitation!

    Process: Using a draw knife, I rounded the metered edges, using the hatchet, I made gauges randomly along the flat sides. Using a ball pean hammer I hit the flat edges with the ball end to make dents. Using a scratch awl, I scratched long cracks randomly along the flat edges, A 16 penny nail was used to make worm holes by hitting the side of the nail head. I used random drill bits to add random holes all over the beam. I used a short chain for randomly adding marks on the beams. I used a belt sander with 60-80 grit paper to smooth the rough edges. All of this to distress the beams prior to staining the beams. Use you imagination!!

    After all of this, the final beams looked like very old reclaimed cabin beams.

    I would post photos, but that project was about 35 years ago! But I found your post because we are about to do six 14 ft. beams again in our latest home in Magnolia De.

    "Lazy Dog"


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