How to Install Wood Beams on a Ceiling

I’ve written an awful lot about She Sheds lately: getting my own up & livable has been THE project of my summer & fall (Tuff Shed installed mine last June).  Because I’m trying to blend “English Cottage Garden” style with “Rustic Cozy Cabin” vibes, I made the decision to add wood beams to the ceiling of my shed in order to achieve that more rustic look.  And if you can believe it, the whole process of installing them took less than ONE HOUR!  In this article, “How to Install Wood Beams on a Ceiling“, I’ll go through this process step-by-step & show you just how easy it is….

How to DIY Install Wood Beams on Ceiling, Girl Who Gardens

Wood beams like these are WAY EASIER to install than you might think!

Get Your Beams….

Wood Beams on Amazon

She Shed Style…

Rustic Barn Beams

Step-by-Step: How to Install Wood Beams

How to Install Wood Beams on the Ceiling, Girl Who Gardens

I’m trying to meld these two styles for my shed: English garden room meets rustic cabin. Wood beams definitely help achieve a “rustic” look.

  • Step #1: Measure your Ceiling & Get an Exact Measurement for how long you want your beams to be. BUT: if you plan to install crown moulding later, leave room on either side of your beams to accommodate the moulding!  For instance: the exact length of my ceiling is 11 feet, 4 inches; but when I went to Lowe’s, I had them cut each wood piece down to 11 feet exactly ~ leaving me about 2 inches on each side.
  • Step #2: Choose Your Wood Beams. Either shop for beams online ~ or if you want to use simple cedar (like I did), head to Lowe’s or Home Depot & check out their wood sections. The easiest beams to put up are smaller ones: like 1X4’s.  For a more substantial look, you can go with a 1X6 or 2X6 ~ or even larger. 

Just Keep in Mind: the bigger the beam, the harder it will be to put up.

  • Step #3: Go Get Your Beams! This is the fun part: I went down to Lowe’s & picked out five 1X4 cedar beams that were 12 feet long (a common length), then took them over to the sawing area.  Within a few minutes, an assistant came over & sawed all my beams down to 11 feet.  With each beam costing around $15, this cost less than $100!! 

If you don’t purchase beams from one of the home improvement stores, you’ll most likely need a miter saw of your own to cut your beams down to the right size.

How to DIY Install Wood Ceiling Beams, Girl Who Travels the World

These are the type of cedar beams you’ll find at your local Lowe’s: I chose 1X4’s, one of the smaller options.

  • Step #4: Don’t Forget Your Nails!  We used 2 1/2 inch long deck nails (in bronze).  Our nails needed to get through drywall ~ then go well into the stud, so we got longer ones….just to be on the safe side. 

DO NOT use normal, wall-hanging nails!!!  These aren’t strong enough: you need nails that have threads which really “grip” into the studs.  Deck nails are really perfect: plus they’re impervious to low temperatures, etc.

Step-by-Step: How to Install Beams

  • Step #5: Stain Your Beams (if you choose). I stained mine with linseed oil, which is one of the best natural stains for cedar ~ I love how it gives them a richer, slightly darker look.
  • Step #6: Measure the Distance Between the Studs on Your Ceiling.  For ceiling studs in a Tuff Shed, we found this was a fairly consistent 24″.  Mark this distance on one of your wood beams (we needed to use drill bits & prep our holes first, otherwise we noticed the wood tended to split).  Then mark where you’ll drill the first set of holes, the second, etc.  Take this beam back & lay it by your other beams, marking them all in the same places.

Doing this will not only ensure a uniform look when your beams are on the ceiling ~ it also makes the install process go much quicker.

How to Insulate a She Shed, Girl Who Travels the World

The distance from one ceiling stud to another in my Tuff Shed was just over 24″. Some had slight variations: so make sure to measure the distance between EACH beam. Also, notice the “X’s marked in the center of each beam ~ having these “X’s visible as you install the beams is SUPER helpful ~ I actually made pencil marks on my ceiling’s drywall.

  • **Step #7: Mark an “X” on the Ceiling Where your Studs are ~ if you can see the studs!!  This step is super important, & makes the install process go SO MUCH FASTER.  When we installed the ceiling drywall, we left small gaps where one piece of drywall met the other; through these gaps, we could still see the horizontal ceiling beams (i.e. the wood studs).  When you mark the “X,” mark it outside of where your beam will be placed: otherwise you won’t be able to see it when you have the beam up there. 

If you don’t do this step, you’ll need to use a Stud Finder to find your studs….which is a slightly longer process.  Just mark your “X’s using the Stud Finder, before installing the beam ~ otherwise the person holding the beam will get super tired!

How to DIY Install Wood Beams on Ceiling, Girl Who Travels the World

This was the first piece of ceiling drywall we installed ~ & on the left side, you can see the FIVE central beams we later drilled into to attach the beams. It’s a good idea to mark an “X” on the drywall right in the center of those beams, for future reference!

  • Step #8: Grab your Drill, a Ladder, & a Friend to Install the Beams!  This is the really fun part: grab your first beam ~ & before you screw it in, make sure that all your drill holes are lining up with the “X’s” marked on the ceiling.  If you do this first, the actual install will be a breeze.  My friend Amanda placed a ladder in the center of the room & held up the beam while I made sure everything lined up; then I started drilling ~ starting at either end, moving into the middle.  My 1X4 beams were super light; as soon as we put four screws in, we found that the beam held (unlike drywall, which takes about 20 screws before it holds)! 

Each beam took us less than five minutes to drill in: mainly because marking the “X’s made it so easy.  I can’t reiterate enough how important that step is!

How to DIY Install Wood Ceiling Beams, Girl Who Travels the World

And this is the finished look!

How to DIY Install Wood Ceiling Beams, Girl Who Travels the World

From another angle….the beams are much darker with just one stain of linseed oil.

Tools We Used to Install Wood Beams

Miter Saw

Stud Finder

Dewalt Drill

How to Install Wood Beams on a Ceiling

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How to Install Wood Beams in a She Shed, Girl Who Gardens