May 242019

Did you know also offers real wood beams? Today we feature a project where such beams were used to add historic style to a contemporary home.

A home with historic style added Barn Board beams in Cocoa to their living room ceiling.
This ceiling was created using our real wood beams; which use artificially aged virgin wood that resembles reclaimed or historic timber.

Our real wood beams are made from virgin cedar which is then artificially aged and distressed to perfectly mimic reclaimed or antique timber. They look incredible – and by using virgin wood and our innovative aging methods, we can deliver the vintage look while ensuring quality and consistency. 

We also use the same hollow and u-shaped design that make our faux beams so versatile. In this box design, the beams weigh a fraction of solid wood, and can also conceal ducting, wires and cables.

These photos were sent in by a recent customer whose home features a historic aesthetic, including a cast-iron, vintage chandelier and edging elements reminiscent of the style of Frank Lloyd Wright

Virgin wood box beams finished to look like real antique wood, nicely complementing a home's historic aesthetic.
As you can see from the window frames and chandelier, it was important to maintain the historic aesthetic of the home

The homeowner wanted to add wooden beams to the house, which would absolutely be in keeping with the decor – but to add solid timber would have been prohibitively expensive and impractical.

At the same time, the homeowner also didn’t want to compromise on the antique feel of the home by using anything other than actual wood – which is exactly the scenario our real wood beams are designed for!

Our Barn Board Real Wood Beams in Cocoa were an excellent choice to use because they matched existing wooden features of the home – like the window frames.

By creating a ceiling structure that mimicked how real timber beams might have been exposed, the homeowners also managed to make them blend absolutely seamlessly with the layout of the room; enhancing the illusion that those beams had always been there.

We think this is a terrific use of our real wood beams, and really demonstrates the value in offering them for sale. While we stand by the vivid realism of our faux products, it’s great to be able to complement that range with a stunning natural wood product that bridges the gap between the authentic article and ‘going faux.’. 

May 172019

What makes a faux beam installation really shine? Normally, it’s the thought that goes into it before installation even begins. Today, we’ll discuss how you can take inspiration from real timber frame homes to create your faux wood masterpiece.

One of the characteristic elements of our faux products is realism.

We use an innovative injection molding process that uses molds taken from real timber beams – hand hewn, rough cut, or in many other styles – and we recreate that texture in vivid three dimensions, in a lightweight and durable polyurethane foam.

Our industry-leading four color painting process then adds an incredibly realistic wood color to the beam; making each one practically indistinguishable from real wood. You can also buy our products unfinished, and stain them yourself for even more customization and realism.

But there’s more to making a faux wood beam project look realistic than just the products you use. While the average person doesn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of timber construction techniques, the idea of a timber-framed building is so familiar to most of us – through visits to historic buildings, and old buildings in movies and TV shows – that we know what looks right when we see timber beams.

We might not understand why it looks right, but we know.

This means that when you decide to install faux beams on your ceiling, you need to actually think about how and where they’re going to go; so they don’t look out of place or ‘wrong’ compared to people’s expectations. It doesn’t matter how realistic your faux wood looks if it’s clearly installed in a place that it was never meant to go!

This illustration from Wikipedia illustrates one way in which a timber-framed roof could be constructed – and we can use it to take inspiration for several different faux beam installations.

Illustration of a timber framed roof.

If you want to be very subtle about it, you could mirror the central, supporting beam and install a faux wood beam at the apex of your ceiling – like this:

Illustration highlighting the ride of a timber framed roof.
Before and after photo of a single faux beams installed on a ceiling's apex.
A single, central beam is a subtle but realistic option for your ceiling.

Another option is to mirror the way supporting beams a spread out in parallel along the ceiling, with or without that central element.

Illustration highlighting the rafters of a timber framed roof.
Before and after photo of beams emulating real structural ridge and rafters.
Using a larger central beam and small beams spaced out from it looks great.

Alternatively, you could highlight the supporting beams that run parallel to the central one.

Beams installed in an open plan room featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
These beams, installed during a partnership with EMHE, illustrate an installation mirroring this.

Alternatively, if you want to take it to the next level, you can mirror the trusses that support the ends of timber ceilings, and often span the space between longer rooms.

Illustration highlighting the structural truss of a timber framed roof.
Faux trusses built with Custom Timber Beams.
These trusses were built using our faux wood, but look incredibly realistic.

As you can see, using real timber structures as inspiration can give you tons of ideas. More importantly than that, though, they allow you to come up with concepts that look ‘right’ because they mirror how real timber would have been used on ceilings in the past.

May 102019

These recent customer photos demonstrate how the addition of two simple beams can transform the look of an entire room – in this case, adding some southwestern style to a modern bedroom.

When you look at the BEFORE picture, two things will probably spring to mind. Firstly, how neatly the homeowners fold their laundry. Secondly, what a gorgeous and put-together theme they have in this cathedral-ceiling bedroom.

Southwestern style bedroom with two suspended beams hung from the cathedral ceiling.
AFTER: Suspended beams added to the bedroom ceiling

From the huge bed with its leather ottoman at the foot of it, the beautiful Remington-style painting of prancing ponies, or the towel rack adorned with a straw vaquero hat and Navajo blanket, there’s a southwestern theme to this room that really comes together; all perfectly positioned at eye-level between the door frame and curtain rods.

It’s only when you look upward, to that towering ceiling, that things start to fall apart. Because this is a modern home, there’s nothing structural to support the looming cathedral apex. The ceiling fan even hangs six feet down to create a false eye-level that distracts from the gaping, open space.

This is a problem many modern homes face, as the advantages of modern building materials mean that the things that would once have broken the line of sight on a ceiling like this – such as structural supporting beams – simply aren’t required to bear the weight of the roof. It’s one of those paradoxical 21st-century problems; in which we’ve actually lost something amidst all we’ve gained; sacrificing character for convenience.

Bedroom before photo
BEFORE: While the rest of the decor is spot-on, you can see how the gaping ceiling left the sense that something was ‘missing’ from this room.

In this bedroom, especially, the towering ceiling doesn’t quite seem to fit with the timeless, classic decor. That’s why the homeowners looked to us for a solution to this problem. They researched our beams and decided using them would add what modern architectural techniques had taken away.

In this case, they selected two of our Quick Ship Timber Beams in Rich Walnut color, which they used as suspended beams to span the gaping space above the bed. The homeowners researched how a roof like theirs would have been supported back in the era of structural timber, and realized that heavy cross-members would have been required to support a roof like that before the days in which steel and concrete had become so readily available.

To install a real length of timber that would span that expanse would be practically impossible. Because it wouldn’t be an original, structural component, it would have to be supported by additions to the substructure of the roof; as real timber is prohibitively heavy.

Our faux beams, on the other hand, might look vividly realistic – practically indistinguishable from real wood, especially in the Rich Walnut color that these customers selected – but they’re manufactured from a lightweight polyurethane foam which weighs just a fraction of what real wood does; and can be supported securely with simple mounting blocks drilled into the studs of the ceiling.

In this case, the length of the ceiling was measured out and two equidistant points were marked on the drywall – which mirrored where real timber beams would have been placed in a traditional ceiling. Next, the angle of the ceiling was carefully measured and cut into the ends of each beam; which can be done with a regular wood saw, so no specialist cutting equipment is required.

Thirdly, the aforementioned mounting blocks were attached to the studs of the ceiling, and then our hollow u-shaped beams were simply slotted over them, and secured with wood screws. Because the beams tower over ten-feet overhead, it’s impossible to see the ‘open’ third side, which faces upward – although we also offer four-sided beams, if you want to have the complete look.

And that’s it! The installation of these beams is really that straightforward, and all it takes is one look at the AFTER picture to see what an incredible difference they make to the look and feel of the room. Instantly, the previously-empty ceiling space now looks rustic, matching the southwestern theme of the room and bringing the entire decor together.

It’s a very straightforward project that had a lot of thought put into planning it – proving once again that ‘less is more’ and you can truly transform the entire feel of a room without having to use a lot of our synthetic wood materials to do so.

May 032019

The towering inferno that engulfed Notre Dame cathedral reminded the world how real wood can pose serious fire risks. This includes when its used as a decorative material in interior design. Luckily our faux products with the fire-rated option help minimize this risk.

Notre Dame cathedral burning
Fire tore through the timbers of Notre Dame, bringing the spire crashing down.

In April, a fire engulfed the world-famous cathedral of Notre Dame, in Paris, and tore through the 800-year-old structure in a matter of hours. Fortunately Paris’ fire service, the sapeurs-pompiers, were able to contain the blaze – but not before the 300-foot spire came crashing down, and almost all of the wooden interior of the cathedral was incinerated.

The towering spire and the wooden attic that supported it were part of the ancient structure not made from stone – as it would have been impossible to bridge the huge nave with lengths of stone, especially during the 12th century, when there were no mechanical cranes or anything like that. While this demonstrates the incredible ingenuity of the cathedral’s designers, it also illustrates one of the major liabilities that timber construction poses – the serious and ever-present risk of fire.

Fire remains a danger in homes and buildings today, although technology has done a lot to mitigate the risk. In addition to fire detection and suppression equipment – which can alert firefighters and begin containing a blaze without any human interaction – the materials modern houses are built of are generally chosen with the risk of fire in mind. Fire-Rated building materials, and the use of concrete and steel as structural supports, helps ensure that if a blaze does break out then there’s a lot less available for the flames to consume, and the structure will remain sound much longer than it would if made entirely from wood.

Notre Dame's attic before the April 2019 fire.
The attic of Notre Dame was made from timber, making it highly vulnerable to fire.
Credit: From Notre Dame De Paris/Maurice de Sully association

That being said – houses in North America, especially, continue to be made with traditional wooden framing methods, which are highly susceptible to fire. It’s something all homeowners need to be aware of.

That awareness comes into play when looking at decorative updates to your home; and is just one more reason why ‘going faux’ might be a smarter solution for your home than using real wood or timber to update your decor. Whichever way you look at it, when you add additional decorative wooden elements to your home, you’re adding a significant amount of combustible material that can fuel any house fire, increase the temperature of a fire, and contribute to the amount of damage caused.

Many of our faux wood products, including beams, mantels and planks are available with a fire-rated option.

Decorative wood trusses made from straight and arched beams with a fire-rated option.
Many of our faux beams and other products
are available with a Class A fire-rated option.

This option includes a number of additional elements designed to resist and withstand fire; meaning you can get the vividly realistic look of wood in your home, without the additional risk.

A fire-rated product utilizes a number of different technologies to become fire retardant. For example, fire-rated foam is a specialized blend of polyurethane that incorporates fire retardant materials throughout the faux wood beam; making the entire product resistant to flame. In independent laboratory testing, once the ignition flame was removed, fire-rated polyurethane didn’t continue to burn; meaning it can’t contribute to the spread of fire, or fuel it without an actual, flaming source of ignition.

Another product used to make synthetic wood beams resistant to fire is Fire-Rated Flame Stop. This is a post-treatment that bonds with the cellular structure of polyurethane foam, and creates a self-extinguishing reaction when the treated material comes into contact with an open flame. It literally puts out the fire, which is the complete opposite of real timber!

Fire-rated faux wood beams installed on a ceiling.

Additionally, Fire-Rated Flame Stop is non-toxic, non-combustible, non-carcinogenic and contains no polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. Given that one of the other advantages ‘going faux’ has over real or reclaimed wood is the absence of VOCs, this is very reassuring.

A coating of fire retardant Flame Seal® is another way to produce fire-retardant beams. This non-toxic, invisible coating blisters and bubbles in contact with an open flame, producing a physical barrier between the source of ignition and the beam itself; adding a third level of fire retardant protection.

Custom Timber mantel available with a fire-rated option
The Custom Timber mantel available with optional fire rating

Finally, the fact that our beams are hollow, and can be cut to size and function with a regular wood saw, has allowed many enterprising designers to run things like sprinkler pipes through the beams; so in addition to not contributing to the risk of fire, it can actually help beautify or conceal fire suppression equipment.

Sadly, fire remains one of the major risks for any homeowner; but with fire-rated faux wood, you at least have the option of adding an additional element of protection against an unforeseen blaze; while not compromising on the vividly-realistic look of wood.

Apr 262019

As the ethics of using real wood become more open to question, using faux wood as an alternative is a smart choice for those planning a more eco-friendly home design.

Wood and timber are two of the most popular materials for both home construction and interior design, because they’re incredibly versatile and affordable – but in recent decades, the last half of that statement has become open for question.

Kitchen with Custom Timber faux beams on the ceiling
Kitchen ceiling with Custom Timber Beams

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) recently published a report on the impact of timber on the environment, and it makes for sobering reading. The global market for low-cost timber has increased by over 800% in the past three decades, and sustainable sources of timber have been unable to keep up with demand. As a result, some 10% of all timber produced for the market actually comes from sources that are in violation of national laws, and that represents half of all the logging and timber production in valuable and threatened forests.

In the United States especially, efforts have been made to keep up with demand in a sustainable fashion – with 2.5 million acres of land converted to fast-wood forests every year. While this meets a lot of domestic demand for low-cost timber, like pine, which can be used in home construction, it does present an issue when it comes to more decorative types and species of wood.

Other types of wood, like mahogany and cedar, are becoming increasingly expensive to source, and increasingly difficult to produce sustainably. In addition to increasing costs, this also adds a question mark to the ethics of using types of timber popular for decorative features in the home like hardwood flooring and, of course, real and artificial wood beams.

This is where the beauty of ‘going faux’ comes in.

Wine cellar with Custom Timber Beams
Wine cellar with Custom Timber Beams

Our faux wood products are made with a lightweight and durable polyurethane foam, which is largely manufactured from oil. While this initially might not sound very good for the environment, there are actually a number of reasons why this is a better ethical choice than real wood.

For a start, the global production of oil has been increasing massively over the past few decades, with America moving from being in desperate need of foreign oil to becoming the world’s global oil producer. This means that oil, while a finite resource, remains abundant and accessible.

Secondly, the explosion in alternative sources of energy, like solar and wind, plus the expanded market for hybrid and electric cars, means that oil is no longer required exclusively to produce fuel – and can be used more frequently for the production of material goods like polyurethane foam.

Developments in the way polyurethane is produced have dramatically changed the impact it has on the environment – with non-emission and
low emission catalysts becoming available that enable polyurethane to be made without producing emissions that can contribute to global warming and harm the environment.

Decorative trusses built with Custom Heavy Sandblasted beams
Decorative trusses built with Custom Heavy Sandblasted Beams

Given how massive the carbon footprint of the timber industry is – with heavy gas and diesel-burning machinery required to cut, move and finish real wood, plus the impact of cutting down carbon-consuming trees in the first place – it’s clear to see that the balance between the two has rapidly shifted in favor of ‘faux’ wood.

Faux wood also has a number of advantages in the home. It’s lighter and provides better insulation, making it a smart choice for more energy-efficient homes, and doesn’t emit any Volatile Organic Compounds like treated wood does.

All of this adds up – and when you compare the two materials, it’s clear to see that on a global scale, ‘going faux’ has become the more environmentally-conscious choice.

While that’s good, for most people the deciding factor in which material they choose remains a little more selfish – normally looks, cost and practicality. As mentioned in our opening paragraph, the massive explosion in demand for real timber has seen costs skyrocket, so in terms of affordability, ‘going faux’ instantly comes out on top.

Secondly, it’s cheaper to transport, cut and install – and offers immense versatility like the ability to hide cables, wiring and ducts inside the hollow beams. In some homes, this can actually help conceal more modern, environmentally-sustainable heating and cooling systems, once again indirectly contributing to helping the environment.

Finally, the one aspect in which timber has always previously come out on top is now in question more than ever. People used to use real wood and timber because it looked the best – but that is no longer the case, and in the example of, hasn’t been for a while.

Bedroom with Custom Tuscany Beams
Bedroom with Custom Tuscany Beams

Our industry-leading faux products look incredibly realistic – molded from authentic materials, and then recreated using an innovative injection molding process that perfectly captures every knot, grain and imperfection.

Whether customers stain them at home, or order any of our incredibly realistic wood color finishes, the beams and other synthetic wood products we sell are now practically indistinguishable to the ‘real thing’ and in some cases actually look better because they recreate types of wood that are no longer available, or difficult to source.

So, as you can see, the advantages of ‘going faux’ stack up pretty quickly – especially from an environmental point of view. This is why global demand for synthetic wood products is increasing even faster than that for real wood; and of all the ‘faux’ wood products available, ours remain the industry leader.

We’re really proud to be able to balance giving people the ‘look’ of wood they want, while also giving them the option to make different and smarter choices about the impact their home design projects have on the environment.

For more information about the impact the timber industry has on the environment, check out the WWF website here: