How To Make Ceiling Beams Out of Styrofoam

Styrofoam has many uses, one of them as a ceiling beam. Wooden beams are great but with a tight budget (and a bad back), the next best thing may just be the ever reliable Styrofoam beam.

Tool and materials

  • Styrofoam blocks
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Table knife
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Masking tape
  • Paint or stain
  • Paint brushes
  • Wood glue
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • 1-2 ladders
  • Step 1 Measure the length of beam you need. If the ceiling is flat, simply measure from wall to wall. Determine the number of beams you want on the ceiling. This means measuring the intervals between the beams, too. Go up to the ceiling and mark the intervals of the beams using your pencil. Or, use masking tape to mark the lines where the beams should be attached. If the ceiling is pitched rather than flat, give an extra 6” allowance of foam for each beam.
  • Step 2 Cut the Styrofoam blocks according to your measurements. If the blocks of Styrofoam are not long enough, use shorter pieces that you can just glue together later on. When sourcing Styrofoam, it would be easier for you construction-wise if you find a supplier who makes prefabricated Styrofoam beams.
  • Step 3 Embellish the Styrofoam beams to make them look like wood. Get an extra Styrofoam block and practice on this. Make small cuts or nicks using a table knife, a sharp knife, a scissor or a chisel on the Styrofoam block. Use a hammer in chiseling or hammer the block directly and see what the effect would be. What you are essentially doing is trying to find the right rustic wood-like look that you will enjoy staring at when you look up at your Styrofoam beam. When you find the best technique, apply this to the Styrofoam beams you cut earlier.
  • Step 4 Paint or stain the beams. Make sure to apply the paint or stain on the whole beams. You may have to dry one or two sides first before working on the other sides of the Styrofoam beams. Let all the beams dry thoroughly.
  • Step 5 Use wood glue in attaching each Styrofoam beam to the ceiling. Coat only the side that will be attached to the ceiling. Apply an even coating then allow the glue to partially dry to the sticky stage. If the beams are in short pieces, apply an even coating of glue to the ends. Only attach the short beams to each other when you are already attaching the beams to the ceiling. On the ceiling itself, where the beam will attach, evenly apply a coating of glue. Let this partially dry as well. Attach the beam to the ceiling when the glue on both the beam and the ceiling are partially dry. If the beam is long, you may need the help of another person. Press the beams to the ceiling moving from one end to the other. You may have to do this 2 – 4 times every 5 minutes. Make sure the beam is holding firmly to the ceiling. Attach the rest of the beams.

Wooden beams are quite expensive and difficult to install because of their size and weight. This is the reason why some homeowners opt for faux wood beams, which are actually made from Styrofoam. Using this type of material gives you a less expensive option. It is easier and faster to install, too.


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