Industry Ed with Richard: Incorporating Wood Beams in Design
The beams need to be spaced about 4 – 6 feet apart, in order to reproduce the structural look.
I don’t like beams along the wall; I think the look is inauthentic. However, half beams can be made to look like they’re sitting on the wall and extending over the post. If a client insists on flanking beams, I would steer them towards that option.
You want to ensure that the beams are proportional to the space. As a general rule-of-thumb, you want them to be taller than they are wide. However, if the space has a low ceiling, or if there simply isn’t room for the beam system your client wants, there is a compromise.
- · 8′ ceilings – 6” wide x 4” tall
- · 9′ ceilings – 6” wide x 8” tall
- · 10′ ceilings – 8” wide x 10” tall
- · 11-12′ ceilings – 10” wide x 12” tall
Adding beams, either during the build or after it is finished, makes this style more accessible.
You have two options when it comes to wood beams – solid or engineered.
Of the two options, solid beams require the most work. They need to be worked into the design from the beginning of the build, and there isn’t much opportunity to change the design once the framing has commenced. Special equipment – lifts, braces, etc. – is needed to install them.
The other option- engineered beams- is much less of a headache. Engineered beams are lighter and easier to install.
Another consideration with designing wood beams is when in the process the beams will be added. Structural beam and post systems will need to be installed by the framing carpenter at the same time as framing materials.
The benefit of engineered beams, like the ones we make at The Olde Mill, is that they can be added later, either after the home is built or at any stage in the renovation process. This gives you flexibility when it comes to planning your job’s timeline.