Thursday, October 4, 2012

BAM! Beam Work.

Our dining room has been subject to more than a little casual remodelling of late. First we added a little intimacy by partially closing in an 'open concept' space, tore down some dated panelling, gutted some nasty water damaged drywall and insulation, and now that the consultation from the carpenter has come and gone months (and months and months) ago, we're going to shove a little wood in it just for kicks (okay, not just for kicks, but for some added spacial definition and a dash of visual interest). 

Though we had already got our hands on some reclaimed church pews, I decided that they were too red/yellow for the kitchen/dining space. And since the kitchen-entry-dning room are the most open concept rooms in the house the wood and stain we picked would have to flow with not only the multiple space but the design elements too.

Not only was the wood tone a consideration but the reclaimed beams we have are mega heavy and for something that is going to be purely decorative, the heftiness of the Douglas Fir beams was a bit much. That and I would be having nightmares of a 200lbs+ hardwoord beam ripping our ceiling down. 

So we were off to the lumber yard in search of wood options. We saw rough cut, smooth cut, big boards, small boards, hard species, soft species, you name it, we saw it. When we came across some absolutely gorgeous red oak boards the decision was unanimous.

Don't you just love the sworls and definition of the grain? Love, thy name is lumber. One of the carpenters who works at the lumber yard even hooked us up with some super-straightforward plans for constructing our seamless decorative beam, as well as securing it.

The idea is simple: you put a piece of raw lumber (cut to size) on the ceiling, drilling vertically into upper joists with 4" screws.We cut down a 2x8 to 5 7/8" wide to fit the total width of our assembled faux beam. (*while our ceiling was open during our epic drywalling sessions, we added 'noggins' in between our joists with 12" OC spacing in anticipation of the faux beam we would install later. We wanted to be absolutely certain that this faux beam wouldn't be going anywhere). 

**(If you're trying this at home): Measure the interior [total assembled] width of your faux-beam  to find the width of your plate/anchor; tear the 2-by down to width on a table saw.

Then you take your gorgeous expensive hardwood and mitre the edges, lengthwise to construct a "U" shaped hollow 'beam' that you fit over your anchor board and attach with a nail gun and construction adhesive (counter-sunk screws with fill would work too). Even though our table saw is capable of mitred edges, we weren't confident in our ability to do it without screwing up. And with a $200+ price tag for three boards, we really didn't want to mess up. So our awesome and friendly local lumberyard guys offered to do it for us on their fancy cabinet-makers table saw. We chose to construct our faux beam on the ground, rather than try and do it mid air. Using spacers, glue, brad nails to tack the corners and clamps to hold it all in place this is what it looked like:

Jesse threw out a little elbow grease and sanded the mitred edges to a nice smooth finish. The with a teeny, tiny bit of wood fill in the crevices it was ready for some stain.

Stain was the hardest part, I kid you not. Jesse and I always have difficulty coming to an agreement of preference when it comes to colour and finish. When it came down to it we just walked down the paint aisle at the hardware store and picked what we [I] thought we [I] liked. Kind of like flying blind.

We decided to try Miniwax's Polyshades product, a stain and poly in one to cut down on the time spent staining (and staining..and staining..) and poly'ing the wood. We put three coats of 'Tudor' (two recommended) on the beam & trim and left it there. we could have gone darker but we didn't want to overwhelm the grain of the wood or try and too hard to get a perfect match to anything in particular. 
{iphone + basement colour quality}
Once the wood had cured and off-gassed in the basement for a few days we were ready to hang. 
{dry fitting}
We used a construction grade adhesive (PL9000) instead of glue to adhere the beam to the anchor plate, and about a gazillion nails to hold it up while the adhesive set. 

Even before the trim was on it I snapped a quick (and fuzzy) picture with my iphone to share on twitter because I was already in love with it. 

After the faux-beam went up there was a quick change in the trim department, more than a few maddening cuts with mitre saw, a few nails some caulk and paint and we had the faux beam trimmed out to give it a nice finished look. (The last minute change was from stained wood trim to painted cove moulding so that the beam + trim would tie in with the rest of the white trim throughout).

I think the most annoying thing to happen during this project was that while ever so carefully peeling the painters tape off the ceiling after painting the trim, the tape (which never sticks to anything!) peeled paint and even tore the paper on the drywall a little. 


I was so.mad. There I was living in a DIY dream world thinking "this is it! I'm done!" and then, nope! A real wrench in the works. After meticulously patching the tear in the ceiling I had spent so much time getting perfect before, this is what I had to show for it. It's not too bad, hopefully no one will be paying too much attention to the ceiling, and if they look up maybe they'll be distracted by the big hunk of wood attached to the ceiling?

With our faux beam hanging securely on the ceiling there is definitely some hefty visual division of space going on between our dining room and kitchen.The added bonus, and real reason we put this sucker together in the first place? No more awkward transition between the textured ceiling in the dining room and smooth ceiling in the kitchen.

{our ceiling is not yellow..or blue. That's just what happens when CFL's and iphoneography collide}
So what do you think? An improvement, or a crazy hair-brained death trap waiting to happen?