Faux ceiling beams are decorative, rather than load-bearing, ceiling beams, constructed out of a variety of lightweight materials. They hang from a room’s ceiling rather than supporting it. Available in a variety of different styles and finishes, they can be used to achieve a number of architectural effects at a fairly modest cost. Most often, they are used to replicate the appearance of much older styles of architecture, but they can be used in purely modern applications as well.
A typical faux ceiling beam is a hollow "U" shape that is mounted to a ceiling using small brackets. Other varieties of faux ceiling beam require small wooden mounting boxes to be attached to the wall before the beams themselves are attached. In all cases, these beams are very light, and a typical ceiling can easily support their modest additional weight.
Some of the simplest faux ceiling beams are simply constructed by making three sides of a wooden box out of thin pieces of any type of wood and then adding some bracing to protect against warping or sagging. An advantage to this variety of faux ceiling beam is that it is, in fact, wood, and therefore has a fully natural external appearance and takes paint or finishes in just the way that any other wood would.
Other varieties of faux ceiling beams are made from plastics of one sort or another. Some are made from a variety of Styrofoam® often used in set construction. This type of beam is generally quite inexpensive but may be more fragile than other varieties and more difficult to finish. Polyurethane beams are common as well. These beams are quite light and durable as well as being easy to cut and finish. The finish on these beams is often hard to distinguish from real wood.
Generally, faux ceiling beams are installed in rooms in order to mimic the appearance of older styles. The addition of a set of such beams can give an ordinary living room the appearance of a European chalet or old Tuscan villa. These beams can also be added to walls or sloped walls to create other rustic wood-framing effects. In a more modern home, faux ceiling beams in simple black or white, rather than a wood finish, can be used to suggest a division of spaces, a particularly useful trick when configuring the large great rooms that are common in many modern homes.