How to Expose Rafters in a House

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Exposed-beam ceilings add charm to a room.
Exposed-beam ceilings add charm to a room. (Image: Jupiterimages  /Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Exposed beams or rafters in a ceiling is a very common sight in newer homes, particularly in log homes or rustic-style homes. Many regard this type of ceiling with a certain sort of charm. If your ceilings are more than 8 feet high and you do not have a crawlspace or attic, you can take down the ceiling material to expose these rafters.

Things You'll Need

  • Dropcloths
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Trash bins
  • Polyurethane
  • Paintbrush

Protect your flooring and yourself. This will be a very messy job so remove all furniture from the room. Tape off all vents. Tape plastic over the doorways and lay plastic dropcloths on the floor. You will also need to put on a mask to protect your lungs from drywall dust and safety glasses. Long sleeves and gloves are also a good idea.

Remove the drywall. Use a utility knife to make a cut in one panel of the drywall and begin cutting away the panels. Alternatively, you can strike a panel several times with a hammer and break it apart piece by piece.

Remove any screws or nails from ceiling joists. The joists will still have screws or nails as well as bits of drywall attached to them. Pop the nails out with the back of your hammer. It helps to have a small bucket or pouch to place the nails in as you go. Remove the screws with a cordless screwdriver set in the reverse position. Knock down any bits of drywall.

Remove any insulation. Some homes will have the rafters insulated with either blown-in or sheet insulation. If it is the former, prepare for an incredibly messy job. This will all need to be pulled down. Roll up sheet insulation and remove.

Refinish the rafters, if necessary. If you don't mind the rustic look, leave the rafters as is. If you want them perfect, you will need to fill in all the nail or screw holes with wood putty. Sand down all the boards first with a medium grade of sandpaper, then a fine grade. Apply at least one coat of wood stain, then sand again and protect the wood with a clear coat of polyurethane.

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