Ceiling beams are a common addition to ceilings. Beams are added to vaulted ceilings to create the look of support under the flat finish of the drywall. Beams are also added to flat ceilings to enhance the design of the room. Often the installation and appearance of each type of beam is handled in a different way, based on the architectural style of the house and the result desired by the homeowner.
Rustic-style beams are installed when a homeowner is trying to create an exposed beam look. Beams are built across vaulted spaces to replicate post-and-beam construction. Typically, these beams are not functional and the actual beam may be made out of Styrofoam that is molded to look like a heavy, old beam. Rustic beams are usually painted or stained to look like aged wood. Metal brackets and bolts are sometimes used at the joints in beams to increase the illusion.
The most common type of beam used on 8-foot flat ceilings is a faux boxed beam. In this case, a 2-by-4 is nailed to the ceiling, and trim wood is nailed over the 2-by-4 to create the look of a boxed beam. These beams are evenly spaced along the length of the room. This treatment is often done in family rooms to add detail and to help the room feel more relaxed and comfortable.
A coffered ceiling is a ceiling with a grid of criss-crossed beams. These beams are carefully laid out so that the spacing is balanced both in width and length. Often the grid is a series of squares. These beams are installed much like the boxed beams, except that after the initial boxing is installed, a finish carpenter will then install crown moldings and additional trims. This type of ceiling is common to upscale dining rooms and the beams and trim are usually painted a crisp white. This ceiling is installed to bring the eye of the viewer upward, usually to show off both the ceiling and a light fixture.
Vigas, Structural Beams, Painted Treatments
Vigas are logs with the bark removed that are used in adobe-style homes to help carry the weight load of the roof. These, along with other structural beams, are often exposed in modern construction to bring the naturally attractive features of the wood and the construction into the home as architectural elements. Some structural beams have a long history of being decoratively stenciled to dress up the appearance of the beams; others are stained and finished to protect the wood from bugs and rot.