Covering Beams with Trim

skylynMarch 18, 2008

In our small cape (1940) we removed a closet and opened up the kitchen to the living room. However, some of the walls were load bearing and getting the beams to be flush with the ceiling (and then just patching in drywall) would be almost impossible and/or way too expensive.

So, I've got to 'cover' these ceiling beams with trim/wood or something and then paint and/or stain. An older family member who is still stuck in the 70s suggested one of those foam 'wood' look coverings (no thanks!). I'm good with trim work, have a nail gun, mitre saw, etc. However, I don't know what I want the final product to look like! Can anyone point me to some pics so I can get some inspiration? Any suggestions? Thanks!!

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I'm looking into this too, though not DIY.

There's something called a "box beam" or a "false beam", made of real wood (I would never have fake either!) that just covers a metal beam on 3 sides. I'm not sure how you attach it.

I really don't want a metal or Sheetrock beam in my kitchen when my wall comes down.

Good luck. It can definitely be done.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 2:23PM
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There are a few different attachment methods used for covering steel I-Beams. I would suggest something easy.

Lets say your I-Beam drops down about 12" from the sheetrock ceiling and is maybe 8" wide, measurements used are just for example. Yours may be completely different.

Now you know you can't nail into steel, so what you need to do is create a nailer for your finish covering to attach to, whether sheetrock or wood. Heres' an EZ method.
For argument sake, lets say the lenght of the exposed I-Beam is 12' long by 1' down off the ceiling. Using 2x3 or 2x4, construct (2) two (One for each side of the I-Beam you want to cover) small 12" high walls by 12'long (the lenght of the beam) using the 16" on center rule.
In our sample here, your vertical 2x's will be about 14 1/2" long.
Each wall will have a top plate (the part that you will attach over the sheetrock ceiling into the floor joists above) and a bottom plate that is a pinch lower than the bottom of the I-beam.
Install (1) wall on either side of the I-beam and you have now created an EZ nailer to attach your rock or wood to. Now you've encased the beam.
Always install the bottom rock or wood first to lock in the bottom of the two 2x walls, then add the sides.

If you choose to cover this framing with 1x pine lets' say, drop the side pieces about 1/8 or 1/4" lower than the bottom for a more professional look.

Using sheetrock as covering of course you'll need to install corner bead (metal is best- less chance of waves) on the new outside corners.

I hope this information is helpful to you. It is just one of many possible ways to handle this situation.
Some things to consider are any neighboring kitchen cabinet soffits above the wall cabinets. You might want to try to keep your beam cover as close as possible to the wall cabinet soffit size.
And remember before closing up that beam, if applicable, you can make the bottom width of the beam cover large enough to accomadate some recessed lighting. Another way to take attention away from the beam.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If it is wood you like then use it. It will make the beam cover stand out more.

If want to loose it in the ceiling, use sheetrock as it will better blend with the ceiling.

The quicker you cover up that beam, the better you will feel. Good Luck.
All the best,
The Porch Guy

See my album.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Album

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 10:06PM
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Thanks for answering us, Porch Guy!

I adore my contractor, and he builds beautiful weird things for me all the time. Never hurts to have a how-to to help him visualize.

The load-bearing wall is still there at the moment, so I'll be happy when I get to the beam-covering stage.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 2:03PM
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We ran into this in our last house and used pine boards with a beaded edge so they looked nicely finished. Then you can paint or stain.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 10:21AM
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Hi all, just thought I'd resurrect this thread since we're faced with a similar decision. We'll be covering three 2x6's in our kitchen ceiling (effectively one 6x6) with wood to make it into a focal point. Can anyone recommend a wood species for this function that is easy to stain? I've had people suggest both pine and poplar, which I understand are not for newbies...


    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 7:23PM
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Here are the pictures of my before and after doing it with oak plywood for the sides and 1" solid oak for the bottoms. Used glue and screws. The brackets are 2" thick squares of oak that I cut a hole in, then cut in half to make the brackets.

Also did the same thing in the library. One of the beams is a real load bearing beam that we had to put in for the addition, the other is a false one built with 2x4s. I havent quite finished it yet, I am still trying to decide how I want to dress it up.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 8:33PM
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