DIY Wood Ceiling Beams


movie beam header

DIY Wood Ceiling Beams

Back to the basement. There were a few reasons for making ceiling beams. We have a weird, lumpy low ceiling in the basement. Despite having just told you this, we wanted a way to draw attention away from its imperfections, and ceiling beams do just that. They’re also functional – this I will explain in a bit. And lastly, they just plain look good.


See that drop in the ceiling on the left? That’s actually the upstairs bathtub. Awkward. I find that very distracting, so we brainstormed ways to work around it, or with it. We thought maybe we’d make a whole soffit around the bookshelf area like we had at the old house. If you know Joe, you know he loves his movie screen, so it was important to figure out where that would go first. We could hide the movie screen behind the soffit maybe. But we quickly realized we wanted the screen on the other wall.

DIY hollow wood beams installation

We actually really like the existing can lights in here, so we didn’t want to rip out the ceiling and start over. Plus there’s probably asbestos in there, so we definitely didn’t want to mess around with that. We also considered covering  the entire ceiling with wood planks. Still might come back to that idea. Finally, we thought about dropping the rest of the ceiling down to be even with the bathtub’s level. But with an already low ceiling, this just didn’t make sense. So I guess we’re going to learn to live with the imperfections for now.

Still, there had to be something we could do for it. I’ve always loved the look of wood beams, and that got me thinking… Why not hide the movie screen inside a wood beam on the ceiling?

We’re doing it.



Building our Faux Wood Beams

I say faux wood beams because they’re actually hollow. They’re made to look like one solid piece of wood running along the ceiling, but in fact they are three separate thin pieces anchored onto one piece. This is more practical for us because they’re lighter and smaller for our space. Plus we can hide the retractable movie screen inside!

DIY hollow wood beams

So we started where all good things start: the lumber yard

DIY hollow wood beams

We measured and cut all of these thin boards and started joining them together at right angles to make boxes, leaving off the top.

DIY hollow wood beams You can start to see how they’re taking shape and starting to look like one continuous beam.

DIY hollow wood beamsFitting the length of the movie screen into a box, we worked backwards to determine the size for the beams.

DIY hollow wood beams
We were extra careful with this section. Joe put a hinge on the top of the box so it will open and close.
DIY hollow wood beams

This  will make way more sense when it’s up on the ceiling.

Distressing Wood Beams

We still wanted them to have the look and feel of old barn beams, even though we used brand new wood. It would have been really great to find something like that to reclaim, but I’m not sure how we’d be able to hollow them out. So we decided to make them at least look old.

DIY hollow wood beams distressing wood characterHere are some of our “tools” for distressing the beams and giving them character.


Once we finished constructing them, we got the help of some friends and they rolled up their sleeves and helped us bang these beams up. Such good helpers. 🙂 Basically we had free reign womping on these things, making them look like they’d been around the block a few times.

Staining Beams

Once that was done, we burned and stained each piece. It’s really important that we banged them up first. Then the burning and staining really brings out those dents and dings.

DIY wood ceiling beams

The nearest beam is stained only. The furthest is after one coat of stain.

walnut gel stain minwax wood beams

Two coats of walnut minwax.


After two coats, they’re looking much better.

staining wood ceiling beams

Almost done. So much stain on my hands. Should have put my gloves back on 🙁

You can see now all the scratches and notches we made.


staining wood ceiling beams

Now to let them dry.

After this, we’ll show you how we install them onto the ceiling, movie screen included!






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