*This post was updated, June 10, 2011, with an image of the finished ceiling. See it below. – Thanks, Jared.
I pulled up to the Durango Day House property today to be met by about 15 cars. It was a busy day. It’s exciting to be on the home stretch where every project makes a significant aesthetic difference. We’re not yet to the finish work, but every step of this project adds a new layer of detail.
Today I wanted to share my current project: the master bedroom ceiling. It includes repurposed and distressed timbers as a beam wrap, tongue and groove to provide the primary ceiling finish and meanderings on the benefits of gel stain. This is an awkward picture, but you’ll see the main beam runs the width of the room with two gable-fronted dormers running opposite.
We pulled the aged timbers from the original structure (check out the post on repurposing these same timbers) and reclaimed them for beam wrap for the main beam. This was their original condition, from February:
In this picture, I’m pre-drilling for a ceiling fan and for the fasteners to make installation easier.
The tedious part of building this particular beam wrap was reclaiming and distressing the wood. Pulling the rest of it together requires exacting measurements, but straightforward building skills.
To build a beam wrap I cut the timbers to length, then use miter cuts to join the two side vertical pieces together and to conceal the joint. Next I use a biscuit joiner to cut out the grooves for the biscuits on the bottoms of the vertical side pieces, and the top of the bottom piece. I then run a thick bead of glue along the entire joint making sure to fill the biscuit slots with glue on both sides. I clamp the two pieces together, wipe off excess glue and allow it to dry. I repeat, for the other side. Once it’s all dried I go back over the joints with a wheel sander to buff out any burrs and move to the next step of staining.
To make the beam wrap look like the one upstairs I followed the same steps (see older post).
After we get the main beam wrap in place, we’ll install the pine tongue and groove to finish the ceiling. The T&G has been pre-stained with a custom mixed stain by the painting crew.
I stained the beam wrap with a gel stain. There are differing opinions out there on gel stains, but I really like them for aging and “distressing” lumber. They cost a little more, but there is near total creative freedom with the color mixing. The secret is that gel stains aren’t absorbed into the wood, so you can achieve a consistency among different lumber products and origins.
(Note: If you’re trying to draw out and accentuate the grain and texture of the wood, I recommend not going with a gel stain.)
The bottom line is that gel stains are easy to control. With some practice, application is easy because: they don’t drip, they deliver an even color, they provide high coverage per container (as compared to liquid stains), and they prevent inconsistent coverage on blotch-prone wood species. For the latter, I would, however, still recommend applying a wood pre-conditioner prior to any stain.
I’ll post finished pictures of the master bedroom ceiling when it is complete.
UPDATE (JUNE 10, 2011). Here’s a photo of the finished ceiling.