Permanently Camouflage Stress Cracks in Ceiling and Corner Joints – Mud n’ Tape for the Last Time with Faux Beam Work – Part 1

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Repaired cracks before sanding

If any of you are as sick as I am of dealing with stress cracks, mudding/taping over and over again, and worse yet, repainting every few years, then this may be a solution for you. Stress cracks in sheetrock (which is what we’re dealing with in our second story bedrooms), or other building materials don’t necessarily indicate a structural issue. As is my case, they may be a recurring problem due to high winds and the natural, resulting movement of the structure. That doesn’t mean I have to like having to touch up and repair on a regular basis. I’ve had it, so my answer to the problem is faux beam work.  

(NOTE: crown molding is also a nice option for masking wall to ceiling joints, but doesn’t really fly on vertical corners, which we are dealing with as well.)

Whether this is an option for you depends on the style of your home; beam work just doesn’t look right in every house. I like to try to recycle wood wherever possible, but for what we wanted to accomplish, it was more practical to use pine 2x4s and 2x6s for a few reasons:

  • Cost: They’re relatively inexpensive.
  • Ready availability: You can get them at any home improvement store.
  • Ceiling height and square footage of the room: We don’t have a ton of space or height and didn’t want to crowd the room with excessive beam work, so box beams were out. We needed a low-profile option to give the illusion of the beam protruding from the wall/ceiling.
I'm burning the bucket after this job is over

Before the beams go up, the surfaces to be covered need to be repaired – you shouldn’t just slap them up over cracks and loose, bubbling or peeling tape. Remove any spent tape – a utility knife and flat head screwdriver help to cut through/lift the loose stuff – and apply new mud (we used Sheetrock Brand Joint Compound) and tape. Let dry, (you may need more than one coat), and sand smooth with an orbital.  A face mask is suggested if you would like to  continue to enjoy easy breathing.

The 2×4/6s can be prepped before or during the sheetrock repair. We ripped the ¼ inch rounded edges to make them look a little more like mill cut timber and did some additional distressing with random handsaw cuts, hammer claw “dings,” etc. (This step isn’t necessary unless you’re going for a more rustic look.)

You can't go wrong with Minwax, and no, they don't pay me to say this

Next, apply two coats of high-build poly satin finish (I swear by Minwax brand), giving a light hand sand with 100 grit between coats to knock down burrs/rough spots. Wipe the beams with an alcohol soaked rag to get rid of any sanding residue.

Additional distressing and one coat poly. This better be worth it.

We’re in the middle of this job, so stay tuned for Part 2 which will highlight pictures of the beam work in place. The idea is to first skirt all the ceiling joints with the 2x4s, then run the 2x6s perpendicular to the trusses to give the illusion of mother beams. The remaining 2x4s will run parallel to the trusses at 4 foot on center, in a tighter repetition, to look like roof support. All corners will use the remaining 2x6s to mimic vertical, load bearing posts.

We’re going to screw the beams into the existing framework with the intent of adding some extra rigidity to the structure. That’s the plan, anyway.  We’ll see how it goes and post updates in the next article. (Hoping there will not end up being a Part 3 article titled: “Tearing Out Faux Beam Work ‘Cause it Looks Like S*%t.”)

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About Liz

Liz is a professional, custom picture framer based in Central New York. She and her contractor husband are currently renovating their second home together. At the time of this writing, they are not on speaking terms. Her love of making stuff with wood and DIY home projects began by watching her Dad. (It was also around this time Liz's incessant use of "colorful language" took root.) She's an avid gardener, stellar cook and doesn't throw like a girl: an all-around rad chick.

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2 thoughts on “Permanently Camouflage Stress Cracks in Ceiling and Corner Joints – Mud n’ Tape for the Last Time with Faux Beam Work – Part 1”

  1. You can also use just different types of chair molding or a 2×4 with chair molding nail to it. It just ads a little extra pizzazz.


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