The term ceiling beam design is usually applied to the layout of ceiling beams fitted externally to a ceiling for decorative purposes. Even if you have a vaulted ceiling you could also design a pattern for the ceiling beams to follow. However, if that requires any existing beams to be removed or altered it’s not a job that many DIY/Home improvement enthusiast should think of trying. In the event of needing to alter or replace any load bearing beams you should consult with a builder or structural engineer.
Types of Ceiling Beams
Ceiling beams can be solid or hollow and can be made from a range of materials including: wood, metal and plastics. Whilst wood is by far the most popular material to have ceiling beams made from the idea of using hollow, or box ceiling beams, is relatively modern.
There are two main advantages to using hollow ceiling beams. First, they are lighter and, therefore, easier to fit. Secondly, being hollow, once fitted, they can become a conduit to carry electrical cables or even pipe-work, if correctly insulated.
The pattern you use for your ceiling beam design is really only limited by your imagination. The standard patterns are to have beams running across the width of a room, down the length of it or creating a cross-design with the beams on the ceiling; for a cross design one beam runs across the width and one beam runs the length of the room and they both meet in the middle.
Each of these designs has its own merits according to the shape of the room and the effect you’re trying to create. Whilst generally speaking beams across the width of a room will make it look wider and beams down the length of the room will make it look longer, both of these effects can be enhanced or reduced according to the size and color of the material used to make the ceiling beams.
Keeping the cross-section of the beam proportional to the room, or effect you’re trying to create, is essential. Before purchasing the ceiling beams, experiment with some samples or off-cuts until you find a size and color that creates the effect you’re after. Having ceiling beams that cross in the middle of the ceiling is most effective in a square shaped room and in my opinion should be avoided in a rectangular shaped room.
Using a single ceiling beam can be used to delineate between two areas in one large room. A typical example here would be in a kitchen-diner. By thoughtfully positioning a ceiling beam in such a room or area you can make a statement along the lines of “here the kitchen ends – and the diner begins”.
Designs on Ceiling Beams
Of course a ceiling beam design can refer to a design actually on the ceiling beam itself. Whilst most ceiling beams tend to be plain and without any decorative features themselves you could, of course, make the ceiling beams highly individualized by having customized designs incorporated into them.
Dependent on the material that the beams are made of the designs could be painted on or applied by a transfer system. However, presuming the beams are made of wood then hand-carving designs onto them would be the traditional way to add a design onto a wooden beam.
If you’re going for the ‘rustic’ look with your wooden beams then there is a veritable art in designing ‘distressed’ patterns on to the timbers to make them look authentically old. If you want to have a the design showing in ‘relief’ then it might be best to use a wood-router for most of the job, just finishing off and making the fine adjustments to the carving by hand.